The humble Cantonese dish, served in a Singapore Hawker Center, was awarded a much coveted Michelin star in 2017. It is actually quite simple to make it at your home kitchen. Superior soy sauce is obviously the key. However, the process of caramelizing sugar is equally important – it makes the chicken nicely glazed and adds into a sweet and smoky flavour to the tender, springy yet juicy meat.
- I whole chicken, 1.3 kg or 3 to 4 chicken leg quarters if you do not have a big deep pot to hold a whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 25g Rock sugar冰糖
- 30g (3-4 sprigs) spring onions香葱, crushed and tie into knots
- 20g ginger (crushed to loosen the fiber)生姜
- 3 star anise 八角
- 2 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch length) 桂皮
- 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine. Either Shaoxing wine or Chinese Rose wine is fine.
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce生抽
- 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce老抽
- 500ml, water
Ginger and Spring Onion dip sauce:
- 10g ginger, skim removed and minced
- 1 spring onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons, cooking oil
- ½ teaspoon, salt
- 1/2 teaspoon, sesame oil (optional)
- Use a Chinese cleaver to smash the spring onions and ginger to loosen the fibres. Tie the spring onions into knots (this makes it easier later when you remove it from the cooked chicken out of pot.)
- Now let’s caramelize the rock sugar. There are two most distinguishing flavours in the soy sauce chicken. And caramel is one of them. Caramelizing the sugar helps infuse a sweet and a hint of smoky flavour to the dish and brown (add color to) the chicken. Just start with adding rock sugar to cold oil. Cook slowly over low-medium heat until the sugar melts and turns golden. It’s important to get a hot oil temperature without burning the sugar.
- Place start anise, cinnamon stalk, ginger and spring onions and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add cooking wine, light soy sauce, dark sauce and water. Mix well. Turn off the heat.
- Plunge the chicken into the pot. Leave it soak in the pot for about 30 minutes. Flip the chicken a couple times so the entire chicken is evenly soaked with liquid.
- Bring the pot to a boil, then cook the chicken over a medium heat for 30 minutes without covered (no lid). Flip the chicken a couple of times to ensure the bird is evenly cooked. Use a spoon to spray some liquid onto exposed surface of the chicken from time to time. Turn the heat off. Leave the chicken soak in the liquid for at least 30 minutes. Drain. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. It is ready to serve. Soy sauce chicken is usually served cold or at room temperature. Do not dump the sauce left in the pot. You can keep it in the fridge or freezer to reuse it for you next soy sauce chicken.
- In the meantime, prepare the ginger and spring onion dip sauce, place minced ginger, spring onion, salt, and into a small bowl. Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok until it starts to smoke. Pour the oil into the small bowl and blend well. Set aside.