Chinese Poached Chicken Breasts with Star Anise

Chicken breasts poached in a broth flavored with star anise, cinnamon, ginger, scallions, and soy sauce is a Chinese classic. Traditionally you would save, not serve, the broth—it improves each time you use it—but we can never resist serving it with the chicken as a light sauce. If you like, boil noodles separately and add them to the broth for a meal in a dish.

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  • Servings: 4


  • 3 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 2 carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
  • 6 scallions including green tops, 5 cut into 4-inch lengths, 1 chopped
  • 6 1/2-inch slices peeled fresh ginger, smashed, plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, preferably dark
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 5 whole star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/3 pounds in all)

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the broth, carrots, the 5 scallions, the smashed ginger, the garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

  2. Add the sherry and chicken and bring back to a simmer over moderately low heat, covered. Turn the chicken and simmer, covered, until the chicken is just done, about 5 minutes.

  3. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, carrots, and star anise to large shallow bowls. Strain the broth and add the minced ginger and 2 tablespoons of the chopped scallion. Ladle the broth over the chicken and top with the remaining chopped scallion.

Suggested Pairing

The exotic yet delicate broth requires a flavorful but light white wine. A German Riesling would be ideal; if the Riesling you choose has some slight sweetness, all the better.

Photo © Sabra Krock Published May 2012

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