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Recipe to put beloved in the mood for love

If your loved one has chickened out of proposing, this dish may just be the magic spell you need

Hedy Khoo on 09 Feb 2020

The Straits Times


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If you believe food is the way to a person's heart, try this recipe.


Roast chicken with lemon and herbs has been dubbed Engagement Chicken for its purported powers of inspiring marriage proposals from men who eat it.


The recipe was originally published in women's magazine Glamour in January 2004 and said to have come from a fashion editor who shared it with her assistant.


The assistant cooked the chicken for her boyfriend who proposed a month later. Other Glamour staff and readers also reported successful engagements after whipping up the dish for their beaus.


The recipe was such a success that in 2011, the magazine launched a cookbook around it, titled 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken And 99 Other Fabulous Dishes To Get You Everything You Want In Life.


Celebrity chefs Ina Garten and Martha Stewart also have their own versions of the dish.


More recently, it was speculated that roast chicken had a role to play in Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's engagement in 2017.


But whether or not it leads to an engagement, this is a dish to cook for the love of your life.


The original recipe is fuss-free, with salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning and no overnight marinating is needed.


For this version, I am spicing it up with a marinade comprising ingredients such as five-spice powder, light soya sauce and Shaoxing wine for greater aroma and flavour.


I recommend seasoning the chicken cavity with salt and marinade to infuse the meat with more flavour. It is best to marinate the chicken overnight for tastier results.


I suggest using Sakura chicken that is farmed without antibiotics. I find the breast meat of this chicken is able to retain its juices better than the usual farmed chickens.


The secret to achieving that attractive reddish brown hue in the chicken skin is maltose. All you need is a teaspoon of it to lightly glaze the chicken.


You may use honey as a substitute, but the results will be different as honey tends to give a goldenyellow hue to the chicken skin.


The resulting chicken should be so tender that you can pull it apart easily.


While I cannot guarantee that this chicken will lead to a proposal, it is almost certain to put your Significant Other in the mood for love.


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  • 1.1kg whole chicken
  • ¼ tsp salt (for seasoning cavity of the chicken)
  • 1 lemon (150g), halved
  • 2 Tbs light soya sauce
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs Shaoxing wine
  • 2 drops of Chinese rose wine (optional)
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tsp maltose
  • 3g Chinese celery, cut into 2cm length
  • 3g spring onion, sliced




  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs light soya sauce
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 4 Tbs Shaoxing wine


You will need 8cm of cooking twine to tie the chicken, a roasting pan and wire rack.




1. In a bowl, place the five-spice powder, ground white pepper, salt, light soya sauce, sesame oil and Shaoxing wine and mix well. Set aside.


2. Remove the giblets, neck, head and feet of the chicken. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels.


3. Place the chicken in a deep dish. Take 1/4 teaspoon of salt and rub it all over the cavity of the chicken.


4. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Rub the marinade all over the chicken, including its cavity.


5. Place the chicken in a resealable bag. Seal the bag and place it, breast side down, on a plate. Place in the refrigerator overnight.


6. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator an hour before roasting. Place it, breast side up, on the kitchen counter to let it reach room temperature.


7. Take half a lemon and place it in the chicken's cavity.


8. With the chicken breast side up, use cooking twine to tie its legs together.


9. Place the chicken, breast side up, on the wire rack in the roasting pan.


10. Pour any remaining marinade over the chicken. Place the other half of the lemon beside the chicken.


11. Preheat the oven to 200 deg C for 15 minutes.


12. Place the roasting pan with the chicken in the oven. Lower the heat to 170 deg C and roast for 20 minutes.


13. Baste with one tablespoon of light soya sauce and roast for another 20 minutes.


14. Baste with another tablespoon of light soya sauce and one tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for another 15 minutes.


15. Baste with Shaoxing wine, Chinese rose wine and sesame oil and roast for another 15 minutes.


16. Glaze the chicken with maltose and roast for another 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 150 deg C and roast it for another 10 minutes.


17. Turn off the heat and leave the oven door open. Allow the chicken to rest for 20 minutes before serving.


18. Serve with Chinese celery and spring onion.


19. Pour roast drippings into a small bowl to serve on the side.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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