Based on Kylie Kwong’s recipe as cooked in her TV show, this is a simple chicken dish that requires a large pot and a very sharp and very heavy cleaver. The pot has to be large enough to contain the chicken and the cleaver has to be heavy and sharp enough to cut through the bones. The only cooking skills required knowing how to simmer, cut, slice, mix, and pour. The cooked dish is not colorful but what it lacks in color, it more than makes up for in flavor.
Pour about 10 cups of water into the large cooking pot. Add the garlic, onion, ginger, and peppercorns. Bring to the boil. Pour in the Shaoxing rice wine. When the mixture boils once more, lower the whole chicken in. Make sure that there is enough liquid to completely cover the chicken. Add more water if necessary. Weigh down the chicken with a heavy heatproof plate so that it does not float during cooking. Simmer the chicken for 40 minutes then turn off the heat and let the chicken and broth cool for a couple of hours. Don’t think that 40 minutes aren’t enough to cook a 2-kg. chicken through. Allowing it to stay in the hot broth for a couple of hours after the heat has been turned off will cook it sufficiently. It will also give the chicken a chance to fully absorb all the flavors of the spices. The rice wine gives it body.
When the chicken has cooled, carefully remove it from the broth. Sturdy kitchen tongs are helpful. Lay the chicken on a chopping board. Carefully cut off the thigh and leg so that they remain as a single piece. Do the same for the other thigh and leg. Score the breast vertically from neck to tail then cut through the bones. Lay one portion on the chopping board, and cut side down. Score the meat at one-inch intervals then chop through the bones. Using the cleaver, scoop up all the cut pieces and transfer them to a serving platter. Do the same with the other half, and the thighs and legs portions. Arrange on the serving platter so that all pieces form a single layer.
Prepare the sauce. Peel the ginger and garlic. Cut into two-inch lengths then cut vertically into thin, thin matchsticks. Cut the onion leaves into two-inch lengths then slice them vertically as finely as you can. Place the ginger, garlic, and onion leaves in a bowl. Pour in the soy sauce, sesame seed oil, and cooled chicken broth (use the broth in which the chicken has cooked). Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Heat the peanut oil until smoking profusely. Pour over the chicken (it will sizzle so keep your distance) then serve your Hainanese chicken immediately.