Post Magazine

Yardbird's Matt Abergel divulges secrets to quality chicken, how to butcher a bird and recipes in Phaidon cookbook

With classic Western cuisines, a whole chicken (which isn't actually whole, as its innards " and often the head and feet " are missing) is broken down into just a few parts: legs, thighs, wings, breast and back, with all the other bits considered "bones".

In Japanese cuisine, at least with yaki­tori, a chicken " with everything intact " is broken down into many parts, and each is cooked in its own way.

There's the tail " my favourite part because it has such a high concentration of fat and skin. There's the thigh and inner thigh; the breast and fillet " a skinny strip of white meat that, no matter how carefully you work, will always separate from the main breast; the succulent oysters from the lower back; the skin, thyroid, wing tip, soft knee bone, ventricle and more.

In Chicken and Charcoal " Yakitori, Yardbird, Hong Kong (2018), Matt Abergel, the master­mind behind Yardbird in Sheung Wan, shows in a series of 81 photos how to precisely butcher a chicken.

Chicken neck with yuzu kosho at Yardbird. Picture: K. Y. Cheng

In his introduction, Abergel writes: "Every day, except Sundays, between forty-five and fifty locally reared, triple yellow chickens are slaughtered three blocks away at the Sheung Wan Market. The birds' throats are slit, then they are bled, feathered, eviscerated and packed into individual bags before being delivered to our kitchen. Less than two hours pass between the chickens being alive and us butchering them. I know this is a luxury that I enjoy through living in Hong Kong [...] That said, if you live in a city with a sizeable Chinese, Muslim or Hispanic population, the chances are high that you will have access to a live poultry market.

The recipe for liver mousse with milk bread and crispy fried shallots. Picture: Jonathan Wong

Yardbird is also known for non-chicken dishes, and fans can cook their favourites: KFC (Korean fried cauliflower), corn tempura, takana mushroom udon, and Brussels sprouts with black garlic sauce and garlic chips.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Copyright (c) 2018. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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