Steamed Rolled Chicken is made in a very simple way, but the soy-flavoured sesame sauce makes this dish so delicious. Chicken fillets are rolled with shallots (scallions) inside, then steamed.
When I got married, I had a limited cooking repertoire. So, I subscribed to a couple of monthly cooking magazines and I enjoyed reading articles and trying recipes. For the first couple of years since we migrated to Australia, I continued to receive the Japanese cookbook called Okusama Techō (奥様手帖), which translates to Housewife’s Notebook.
Okusama Techō was an A5 size book of about 50 pages containing basic cooking techniques, chef’s dishes and home cooking dishes, desserts with detailed recipes. There were about 25 recipes in a book.
There was a section where seasonal ingredients were explained in detail including how to prepare recipes using these ingredients. It also included crafts and art work associated with table settings. I learnt a lot from these books and cooked as many dishes as I could.
These books are 35 years old now and the dishes in them reflect the time when they were published. But most of the recipes are still good to use.
Today’s recipe, Steamed Rolled Chicken with Soy SesameSauce is a modified version of the recipe from one of the Okusama Techō recipe books. It only uses chicken fillet and a few stems of shallots (scallions) but it is a pretty dish, especially when surrounded by finely julienned fresh vegetables.
You will need a large fillet of chicken leg which is called a Maryland fillet in Australia. I know in the US, Chicken Maryland is a historic dish from the state of Maryland and this cut of chicken is called a quarter chicken or whole leg of chicken.
Level the thickness of the fillet by butterflying the thick part of the meat, place a few stems of shallots (scallions) on and roll. Tie the roll to secure it, then wrap in baking paper like a large candy. Using baking paper to wrap the roll is my addition to the original recipe as I find that the roll looks more even and neat after steaming.
Steam for 15 minutes, remove the paper and the strings, then cut into discs.
Soy Sesame Sauce
Steamed chicken goes well with sesame sauce. I posted the recipe for a different Sesame Sauce in Japanese Dressings quite some time ago. You could use it but today’s sauce has more soy sauce in it and the colour is much darker than Sesame Sauce.
Since steamed rolled chicken has the very pale colour of cooked chicken and the shallots in the centre do not have a bright colour either, I think that Soy Sesame Sauce suits it better than the whitish Sesame Sauce.
Steamed Rolled Chicken is quite easy to make but you can present the dish beautifully and people will not know that it was so easy to make. I hope you try it.
Chicken fillets are rolled with shallots (scallions) inside, then steamed. Steamed Rolled Chicken is made in a very simple way but the soy-flavoured sesame sauce makes this dish so delicious.
The instructions are long but that's because I try to explain in detail how to roll the chicken. The actual time to roll it is very quick.
- 2 x boneless whole chicken leg/chicken quarter (note 1)
- 3-4 shallots (scallions), roots removed (note 2)
- Salt and pepper
- 6 x 20cm (8") long cooking strings
- 2 sheets of baking paper cut to 30cm (1ft) long
- 2 tbsp white sesame
- 2 tbsp each soy sauce , rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp dashi stock
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 small fresh chilli , finely chopped
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- Chilli threads (note 7)
- Shredded vegetable salad
Place a chicken fillet on a cutting board, skin side down, facing the drumstick portion away from you.
Where the meat is thicker than the other parts of the fillet, cut horizontally outward without completely cutting it off so that the top part of the meat opens like butterflying (note 3). This will give the fillet an even thickness.
Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over the fillet.
Cut the shallots to the width of the chicken fillet and place about 4 stems of shallots (note 2) horizontally, leaving a 2-3cm (1”) gap between the shallots and the edge of the fillet close to you.
Starting from your end, start rolling the fillet away from you, ensuring that shallots are firmly wrapped with the chicken.
Tie the rolled chicken with 3 cooking strings starting from centre, then close to the both ends. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper all around the roll.
Wrap the tied chicken roll with baking paper and twist both ends like a candy wrapping.
Place two chicken rolls wrapped in baking paper on a plate.
Heat a steamer over high heat. When steam starts rising, place the plate with chicken rolls in the steamer.
Place a lid on and steam for 15 minutes on high, then turn off the heat.
Unwrap the baking paper on the plate that was used to steam the chicken because there will be a bit of juice accumulated inside the baking paper.
Transfer the chicken rolls to a cutting board and remove the cooking strings.
If the edge of the chicken roll is very pointy, you may want to trim the edge so that the roll can stay up nicely and look neat when cut (note 4). Cut each chicken roll into about 2.5cm (1") thick discs (6-7 discs in my case).
Pile chicken roll discs in the centre of the large plate with strands of chilli threads on the top if using. Serve with salad (note 5) and Soy Sesame Sauce.
Put the sesame seeds and sugar in a mortar and pestle and grind them until about half of them are powdery but there are still some whole seeds left (note 6).
Add the remaining Soy Sesame Sauce ingredients to the mortar and pestle and mix well.
Transfer to a serving jug.
1. It’s called Chicken Meryland fillet in Australia but in the US, it is a quarter chicken, i.e. whole chicken leg with thigh and drumstick together.
I used fillets of about 200g (0.4lb) each with skin on as they give the dish more flavour but fillets without skin is OK too. If the boneless whole chicken leg comes with a tip of the leg, cut the tip off.
If you can only find a leg with the bone in, you need to remove the bones, I am afraid. Check out one of the YouTube demonstrations of How to Debone a Chicken Leg and Thigh.
2. The number of shallots required depends on the thickness of the stem and the length of the shallots. It also depends on the size of the chicken fillet. My fillet was 18cm (7”) wide 13cm (5⅛”) long. What you need is the stems cut into the width of the fillet and loosely bundled. A few stems are about 2.5cm (1”) in diameter. I used the green part of the shallots, too.
3. When butterflying the thick part of the meat, try to cut to the direction where it will make the shape of the entire fillet close to square.
4. I served the rolls with cut side up so I had to have a flat surface on the rolls. But this is not necessary unless you wish to make them look pretty.
5. Salad: The salad in the photos is a mixture of finely julienned 200g (0.4lb) daikon (white radish), 60g (2.1oz) carrot, 60g (2.1oz) cucumber and 40g (1.4oz) radish. I used a julienne slicer for this.
Cut daikon and carrot into 3-4cm (1½”) discs, then slice /julienne them in the root direction. For cucumber, cut the tip diagonally so that the surface of the cut is about the same length as the daikon/carrot. Then slice/julienne. I used 3 radishes. They were small so the julienned pieces were much shorter.
Chill the julienned vegetables in a bowl with iced water to make them crisp. Drain and remove water as much as possible before serving.
6. I decided not to grate the sesame seeds completely so that you can see the seeds when poured over the chicken and also get a bit of crunchy texture in the dish.
To obtain a good sesame fragrance, you will need to grate at least half of the seeds very finely. If you grate all the seeds, you will probably get stronger sesame flavour but you lose crunchiness in the dish.
7. Chilli thread, also called angel hair chilli, is a traditional Korean garnish made with chilli peppers. I bought them at a Korean grocery store but I am sure you can find it in other shops which sell good ranges of herbs.