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Sake-Steamed Whole Chicken

Sake-Steamed Whole Chicken

Learn how to make incredibly moist and flavorful steamed chicken with sake using this simple method by Chef Tadashi Ono. Pair it with daikon oroshi and ponzu sauce for a delicious Japanese meal. Patience is key in allowing the chicken to cool to retain its succulence. Leftover chicken can also be used in a variety of dishes. Try it out and enjoy the tenderized and flavorful result!

Here's a simple method my pal and coauthor Chef Tadashi Ono of Matsuri mentioned to me last week: Steaming a whole chicken with sake. It couldn't be easier.

Steamed Chicken with Sake


  • 1 whole chicken, salted
  • Water
  • Sake
  • Daikon, for grating
  • Ponzu sauce


  • Large pot (e.g., Le Creuset French oven)
  • Steaming basket (center post removed)


  1. Preparation:

    • Salt the entire chicken and set aside.
    • In a large pot, place a steaming basket with the center post removed.
    • Combine water and sake in a 1:1 ratio and pour into the pot until it reaches the top of the steamer.
  2. Cook the Chicken:

    • Place the salted chicken on the steamer.
    • Turn on the heat and cook for about 45 minutes. Test for doneness by making a cut between the thigh and the breast; if the juices run clear and there's no red meat near the bone, the chicken is cooked.
  3. Prepare the Accompaniments:

    • While the chicken cooks, grate daikon to make daikon oroshi.
    • Pour ponzu sauce into individual serving bowls.
  4. Cool the Chicken:

    • Once cooked, allow the chicken to cool to room temperature inside the pot to retain its succulence.
  5. Serve:

    • Add some daikon oroshi to the ponzu sauce for body.
    • Dip pieces of the cooled chicken into the ponzu sauce to enjoy.
    • Optionally, reduce the steaming liquid to a sauce and pour over the chicken for an added flavor dimension.

Techniques and Their Purposes:

  • Steaming with Sake: The sake not only tenderizes the chicken during cooking but also imparts a subtle flavor, resulting in moist and flavorful meat.
  • Cooling Inside the Pot: Allows the chicken to retain moisture, preventing it from becoming dry.
  • Daikon Oroshi and Ponzu: The combination of these two elements adds a refreshing contrast to the dish, enhancing its overall flavor profile.
  • Reducing Steaming Liquid: Offers an optional method to further utilize the cooking process by creating a flavorful sauce, merging French and Japanese cooking techniques.