This recipe from sous chef Alexandra Sandoval of the Chinese-Italian restaurant Miantiao adds depth in flavour to traditional grilled fare, thanks to the introduction of fish sauce.
It also uses the spatchcock method, in which poultry is split open for grilling.
“The spatchcock method is ideal for cooking poultry as it cooks poultry evenly and the skin is fairly exposed during cooking, therefore making the skin extra crispy,” Sandoval explains. “The method is also ideal for this recipe as it allows for the most surface area for seasoning and adding flavour.”
Spatchcock game hen
1 game hen
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp Miantiao spice mix
2 tbsp chicken fat
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, smashed
pinch chilli flakes
assorted vegetables (your choice)
store bought or homemade pickles
3 egg yolks
200 ml canola oil
2 garlic, microplaned
Prep the hen
Mix ¼ cup of salt per 4 cups of water.
Place the hen in a large container with the mix and fill the rest with water until fully submerged.
Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of hours or preferably overnight.
Spatchcock method for the game hen
Prepare the game hen.
Pat the hen dry with paper towel and make sure you pat down the insides as well.
Set the chicken breast side down on a large cutting board.
Remove the backbone.
Using a sharp knife and preferably poultry shears, remove the backbone.
Starting from the tail and work your way up one side of the backbone and repeat on the other side. (You may reserve the bones for chicken stock.)
Break the breast bone.
Flip the hen over and keep the breast side facing up and the inside of the chicken on the board.
Use the palm of your hand and press firmly on the center of the breastbone. You should hear the breast bone break.
Flatten the hen.
Press down the hen with your hands and massage it firmly to help it lie as flat as possible.
You have the option of removing the wings, as they often burn during cooking (can be used for chicken stock).
If you prefer to keep the wings you can either wrap them in tinfoil or tuck them underneath the breast to prevent burning.
Cooking the hen
Rub the Miantiao seasoning mix all over.
Roast in the oven at 425 F (about 220 C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until you see the skin have a nice initial char.
While you wait for the hen to cook, mix fish sauce, garlic, chilli flakes, and chicken fat.
Take out the hen and brush the mixture all over.
Place the hen back in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the hen reaches internal temperature of 165 F (about 75 C).
Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes.
Grab your vegetables, soak them in salt water for 1 minute and rinse.
Place the washed vegetables in cold water for 1 minute. Then drain, and place in the fridge to keep it cold and crisp.
When the hen is almost done, take out the vegetables and set it on beautifully on the plate.
Separate the egg yolk and the whites and place the yolks in a bowl.
Slowly pour in the canola oil whilst whisking until the desired consistence is achieved.
Season with salt and garlic.