Chinese-style soy-braised chicken was a staple in our house when I was young. My mom buys a whole chicken and cuts it into pieces before braising it in her own blend of soy, yellow rock sugar, water and aromatics.
A dish like soy-braised chicken may sound like it is ridiculously salty, but it’s actually not. It’s flavoured with soy sauce and, when made correctly, is a wonderful balance of sweet and savoury that is hard to beat.
I crave this dish after a long day at work, when I usually don’t have the time or patience to cook a whole chicken. Instead, I favour this quick version, substituting whole chicken with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and yellow rock sugar with brown sugar to make a thicker sauce that gives me a welcome taste of Mom’s cooking whenever I want.
Serve this dish on top of steamed rice or noodles and garnish it with thinly sliced green onions. To make it a balanced meal, serve with steamed broccoli or baby bok choy sautéed with a bit of vegetable oil. In our house, we also have plenty of hot English mustard on hand, which – believe it or not – is lovely with the chicken.
Here’s what you need:
1 tsp vegetable oil
1-1/2 lb (675 g) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce or reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
Pinch each five spice powder and black pepper
In skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sear chicken until browned on both sides, but still pink in centre, about 5 minutes. Set aside on plate.
In same skillet, add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in 3/4 cup water, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, five spice powder and black pepper, and bring to boil. Return chicken to skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink and sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Slice chicken and serve with sauce.
Do you make shortcut versions of your family favourites?