This recipe takes a bit of time to make but it’s still very easy and unfussy. The overall taste is reminiscent of northern China, but with a bit of a spicy kick. Braised to a tender perfection, you’ll be able to lift the meat from the bones with your chopsticks.
Begin with bone-in chicken pieces, leaving the skin on. If you use the pieces from a whole chicken, which I recommend, you may want to cut the breasts in half so that all the pieces are roughly the same size.
Brown the chicken for a few moments in a non-stick pan, then set aside.
Then briefly fry the aromatics in a deep pot, wok, or dutch oven; add back the chicken pieces and pour in the braising liquid until everything is just about covered.
As the chicken cooks, the liquid will start to reduce. The color and the flavor will also become more rich.
To complete the dish, remove the chicken so that you can reduce the sauce over a strong boil. Then everything goes back into a serving dish with some garnish, and you’re ready to go.
INGREDIENTS and PREP:
- 1 chicken cut into 8 parts, or about 3 lbs chicken thighs and breasts, bone and skin in place; browned for a few minutes on all sides in a non-stick pan (no extra oil required)
- 4 cloves garlic and 1 ” ginger, minced finely
- 2-3 whole star anise and 5 whole dried chiles
- 1/2 cup Shaoxing glutenous rice wine and 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
- About 1 L water, chicken stock, or coconut water
- After browning the chicken (#1), pour the fat from your non-stick pan into a dutch oven or clay pot. Heat, then add the garlic and ginger (#2) and stir-fry until soft and aromatic.
- Add the star anise and chiles (#3) and stir-fry for a few seconds until hot. Then add the Shaoxing wine and the dark soy sauce (#4) and heat until gently bubbling.
- Next, add the chicken to the pot and then pour in the rest of the braising liquid (#5) to just about cover. Heat until gently simmering and then braise for about an hour. The chicken will be cooked through and very soft. Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Heat the braising liquid to a vigorous boil and reduce by about half until it makes a slightly thickened sauce. Then add back the chicken pieces and turn to coat with the sauce. Garnish with scallions or roughly torn cilantro, basil, or shiso leaves.
- Serve with rice and contrasting dishes.
Variations: This recipe was so well-recieved that I made it twice in quick succession. The second time, I was a bit more pressed for time so I kept things a bit more rustic. Instead of mincing the garlic, I just tossed in some crushed cloves. And instead of minced ginger, I used some sliced, unpeeled ginger “coins.” For the last 30 minutes of the braise I also added a handful of small new potatoes. I think this second version was even better than the original.