I have put this classic Cantonese dish on a pedestal for way too long. It’s time to make it easily reachable (like in our fridge easily reachable). No more special trips to Chinese BBQ shop! No more awkward stares by the butcher when I ask for the “triple order to go, please” because we don’t live in a highly Chinese populated city. To get a good soy sauce chicken or to satisfy any Chinese cravings, our stomach would usually have to patiently wait until we make a trip to the big city of Toronto.
Soy Sauce Chicken (See Yao Gai) is the boy’s favorite! It has a special place in his heart (or stomach) because he grew up with mom’s homemade soy sauce chicken. The sweet, salty and umami combination of this chicken makes it so irresistible and comforting.
What great about this recipe is once you mastered your soy sauce base, you can keep it and re-use it over and over again. Yes, it’s a thing in Chinese cooking to reserve braising fluid and reuse it! The older the broth, the more flavor it has! You may need to add more water to the broth each time as lot of water evaporates through the cooking process.
The recipe is so versatile. If the price whole chicken is too expensive this week, use chicken drumsticks, quarter legs or even wings! We stocked up on chicken when it was on sale and ended up eating it for a week with leftovers in the freezer. 😀
Here is my final recipe after cooking a couple of birds and half a dozen or so of quarter legs! :p
Soy Sauce Chicken
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4 people
- 1 whole chicken, approximately 4-5 pounds (preferably fresh, non-frozen)
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 7 slices ginger
- 3 green onions, cut into large pieces and smashed
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 ½ cup Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 cup rose-flavored rice wine
- 2 cup light soy sauce
- 1 cup dark soy sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 to 10 cups water (enough to cover the chicken)
- Wash the chicken inside out, remove any remaining giblets and let it air dry at room temperature.
- In a tall stockpot, add the oil and caramelize the ginger under medium heat for about 30 seconds. Then add the chopped green onions and star anise, cook until fragrant for about another 30 seconds.
- Add the rice wine and cooking wine and bring the heat to high to let the alcohol cook off. Then add the rest of cooking liquids (light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and water) and bring to an active simmer.
- Gently lower the chicken into the pot breast side up and make sure the cavity is completely filled with soy sauce liquid. Cover the pot, let it cook at medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is boiling again.
- Turn down the heat to medium-low and keep it at slow simmer for about 30 minutes. Then turn off the heat completely and let the chicken rest in the pot for another 15 minutes.
- Carefully lift the chicken out and drain all the liquid out of cavity. Chop the chicken up in large pieces, and serve with the cooking sauce from the pot!