Monday, February 15, 2010
Soy sauce chicken recipe
Since it's Chinese New Year, I decided to cook a rather authentic dish called Soy sauce chicken. Its basically a whole glossy chicken simmered in a delicious salty sweet broth brimming with the essence of spices, herbs and Chinese wine. The chicken is silky smooth, tender and juicy and goes fantastically well with a ginger scallion dip. Apparently, this dish is even famous overseas and is being sold in many Chinese BBQ restaurants including Sydney.
I was lucky to find a Chinese recipe from a chef working in Shang Palace in Shangri La Hotel. The chef claims that this traditional recipe has been passed down over a few generations since the 1960's with many key ingredients that make this soy sauce extremely flavourful. Since the recipe called for a whole chicken, I was a bit skeptical at first as the sauce ingredients were not much and I was hesistant that I did not have a pot large enough to contain the entire chicken. So I used chicken leg quarters which is another good alternative and I was quite pleased I made the right choice as the sauce was just adequate enough to fully submerge the chicken legs. I simmered it under low heat for about 30 minutes and by then I could already see the chicken was slightly falling off the bone so I switched it off immediately and allowed it to sit in the wonderful sauce to soak in the flavours. (Note: for 1 whole chicken you probably will have to turn it more often, basting the cavity with sauce occasionally and cooking time will be longer).It's pretty easy to make but the only trouble I faced was carving the chicken. I confess I have horrible knife skills (I didn't go to culinary school) so I couldn't produce perfect chops. Nevertheless, the chicken turned out pretty well, better than I expected and I reserved about a cup full of the remaining sauce.
Soy Sauce Chicken Recipe (豉油鸡)adaopted from Rasa Malaysia
1 whole chicken or 3-4 chicken leg quarters (about 3 - 3 1/2bs)
2-inch ginger (skin peeled and lightly pounded)
4 cloves garlic (lightly pounded)
2 stalks scallions (cut into 2-inch lengths)
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch length)
1 dried tangarine peel soaked first to soften
1 dried honey dates (optional)
1 cup soy sauce (I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup dark soy sauce (I used a few tablespoons less than 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Chinese rose wine (preferred) or Shaoxing wine (I used Shaoxing wine)
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 dashes white pepper powder
4 oz. rock sugar
4 cups water
Ginger and Scallion Dip
1/2 cup ginger (skin peeled, pounded, and finely chopped)
1/2 cup scallion (cut into thin rounds)
1 clove garlic
1/2 heap teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
1/2 heap teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
To prepare the ginger and scallion dip, place the ginger, scallions, salt, vinegar and chicken bouillon powder into a small bowl. Heat up 1 cup of oil in a wok and add the garlic clove. Once it turns black and oil starts to smoke, pour the oil into the small bowl and blend well. Beware of sizzling reaction! Set aside.
Add all ingredients (except the chicken) into a deep pot and bring it to boil on high heat for 15 minutes. Add the chicken quarters into the pot and boil over high heat for about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to simmer on low fire for about 30 minutes. Once in a while, move the chicken around so the skin won't burn. Halfway through, turn the chicken over to get even browning. Use a skewer to pierce the thickest part of the thigh. If the juice that runs out is reddish, give it another 3 min or so, switch off fire and let it steep in the sauce and heat for a couple of min. Turn off heat and let the chicken steeped in the soy sauce mixture for a few hours to soak in the flavor. Dish out the chicken quarters, rub with a bit of sesame oil before chopping into pieces and serve immediately with the ginger scallion dipping sauce. (Soy sauce chicken is usually served cold or at room temperature.) A plate of white rice, some greens or sliced cuke will go well with this.
Some dark soy sauce is darker than others. If you have a very dark soy sauce, you should probably use less.
Dongbo Rou (东波肉) in a Shanghai restaurants uses dried honey dates (蜜枣) to make their soy sauce mixture. Dried honey dates impart delicate and natural sweet taste to soups and stews and widely used in Cantonese cuisine. It’s optional if you don’t have them.
Save the soy sauce mix. It’s great for soy sauce eggs. Add a few hard-boiled eggs into the soy sauce mix and steep them overnight and you have some great tasting Chinese soy sauce eggs (滷蛋). You can also use the soy sauce mixture to make soy sauce tofu (滷水豆腐); deep fry the tofu and soak it with the soy sauce before serving.