Sweet Mandarin Recipe: 粤式烧鸡 Cantonese-style Roast Chicken

This recipe was supplied by the Tse Sisters from the renowned Sweet Mandarin restaurant in Manchester. You can check out more delicious recipes from their cookbook .

Use tamari rather than soy sauce.

Dairy free

Egg free

Serves 4

Preparation time 10 hours

Cooking time 1½ hours



1.3kg whole chicken

2 whole garlic bulbs

3cm piece of fresh root ginger  (kept whole)


For the marinade

5 tablespoons dark soy sauce

5 tablespoons honey

5 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine

5 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white pepper


Lisa’s tips : Ensure the chicken is as dry as possible before putting it in the oven so the skin crisps up nicely.

Cantonese-style roast chicken quite literally blew traditional roast chicken out of the water – well, that is according to our grandmother. Back in the 1950s, when she was working as a maid and cook in Hong Kong, Lily had to cook all the meals for the family on a baked mud stove fired with charcoal – and this is what she used to prepare for Sunday lunch.

It is a classic Cantonese dish with a deeper flavour than ordinary roast chicken because it absorbs all the Chinese flavours during the overnight marinating.



Wash the chicken under cold running water and pat dry on kitchen paper inside and out. Stuff the chicken cavity with the whole garlic bulbs and ginger.

Pour the ingredients for the marinade into a large plastic zip-lock bag and mix well. Put in the chicken, basting well, seal and set aside to marinate in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. Meanwhile, take the chicken  out of the plastic bag, put it on a rack inside a roasting tray and air-dry for  30 minutes. This air-drying process is important because it will help the skin to crisp up.

Put the chicken in the hot oven and roast for 1¼ hours. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 15 minutes before carving.


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