Tag Archives: Boiling

Japanese Chicken Ham Recipe (Shizuoka-based) Boiling Water Sous Vide

Yuka's Chicken Ham (Japanese-style)
Sous vide chicken ham ala Yuka

So, the reason for this post is *I* was for one amazed at the results. My wife left a couple of stock pots sitting on the stove close to bed-time. I looked in and noticed each one had a bunch of (after 4 hours) 90 deg F water and a lid, with a plastic-wrap covered sausage-looking roll in each one sitting in the hot water.

So I had to ask, “What are those?”  She says, “It’s chicken ham.”  I think to myself, “Hm… raw chicken stuck in a plastic wrap tube and sitting in some hot water… isn’t this botulism in-the-making?”  So I do the research.

Turns out in Japan, they’ve been making a version of a sous-vide style chicken dish for centuries. You can use white or dark meat, as long as it’s boneless.

And you’ll note the recipe calls for all of 4 ingredients:

  1. Boneless chicken
  2. Salt
  3. Pepper
  4. Sugar

The process is that the chicken is pierced with a fork to allow the seasonings to penetrate.  The salt+pepper+sugar is liberally sprinkled all over the chicken, then placed in a zip-lock bag with the air removed, and left to cure/marinate in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours (depending on how seasoned you prefer your “ham”).  If using the 2-day version, pour off the accumulated liquid after the first day, re-seal and return to the refrigerator.

After the curing, rinse it with cold water.  If you prefer it less-salty, let it soak in cold water for 30 minutes after rinsing it.  Pat the chicken dry with towels to remove excess moisture.

Wrap this in plastic wrap, sausage casing, a silicon tube, or whatever else you have that is boiling-water safe (it’s just to form the shape of the finished meat – if you don’t mind it looking flat and natural, just put it back in a clean ziploc bag and remove the air (using a straw helps get the last bubbles out.)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, large enough to allow immersion of your chicken package.  Turn off the heat once boiling, and place the chicken package into the boiling water, and cover with a lid.  Let it sit and gradually cool for the next 5-7 hours (if you live in a particularly cold climate, you might place the pot into an oven so it’s a little more insulated.)

Then you take it out and slice and eat it, or what have you (it’s just like pork ham, without all the nitrates, food coloring, and other additives.) Some people then take the finished chicken and then place it in a smoker to add a smoke flavor, or any other thing you might do with a canned ham.

Food process-wise, the reason this works is the internal temperature of the loaf immersed in boiling water, once covered, will gradually reach the minimum 140 deg. F for sterilization, and then maintain that temperature for over 45-60 minutes as the water finally cools from 212 deg. F back down to 140.  That process usually takes 2-3 hours if covered.  (If left uncovered, it would cool-down too quickly to be safe.)

Pretty much the simplest chicken recipe I’ve ever seen, and the results are fantastically tasty and juicy.


Note the proportions to this recipe (it scales perfectly well, you just need enough hot water in the pot to keep it from cooling down too fast – approximately 4:1 water to chicken should be enough):

-One large chicken breast: 250g (1/2 lb)
-Sugar: 1 large tablespoon
Coarse salt-black pepper mixture: 1 large tablespoon (1/2-1/2)

My wife used about 2 lbs. of chicken to a 8 qt. stock pot with about 5 qts. of boiling water and double-layered the plastic wrap.

Other recipes include skipping the wrapping, and tying the bundle like a small roast and poaching it in broth instead. This is not a true sous-vide because you don’t need to vacuum pack the chicken.  The salt/sugar curing is the preservation step that makes this work – you wouldn’t be able to substitute salt replacements, or sugar alternatives and have a safe product for poaching without keeping the temperature higher (about 160 deg. F)