soy braised chicken with eggs
Every Chinese family has their own soy braised chicken recipe – the one my mum used to make had only chicken wings, as that was my favourite part of the bird as a child. In this version I add boiled eggs (like you would to Chinese braised duck), which are delicious eaten with the gravy; when I served it recently to some friends they liked those more than the chicken! To prepare the chicken I use an ingenious cooking method borrowed from my friend Ness – it’s fantastic as you can put it on first thing in the morning, leaving it to cook for half an hour while you shower/get dressed/have a coffee. Then turn the fire off and go to work (the chicken will continue cooking in the residual heat). In the evening, there’ll be a beautifully moist and tender chicken waiting for you at home and all you’ll need to do is put the rice on and pop the boiled eggs in the pot.
You can of course also use chicken portions (thighs, drumsticks or wings) which is even more convenient as they only take a third of the time to cook. Don’t waste any sauce you have left over – you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week (or longer in the freezer) and re-use for braising (either chicken again, or other meats such as belly pork) or for some quick soy eggs.
Soy Braised Chicken with Eggs
serves 4 (or more if serving with other dishes)
1 whole corn-fed chicken or 12 chicken thighs, drumsticks or wings
4 large eggs (or more if you wish)
4-5 thick slices ginger, peeled and lightly bashed
3-4 spring onions (cut into 2-inch segments)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly bashed
1/2 cup dark soy sauce
125g (4 oz) rock sugar*
1 tbsp shaoxing wine
1 cup light soy sauce
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 litre (4 cups) water
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
Bring all ingredients except chicken and eggs to a rolling boil. Carefully place the bird, breast side down into the boiling liquid and cover with a heavy lid (a creuset or similar dutch oven is perfect) and leave to boil on a medium high flame for 30 minutes (if using chicken pieces reduce cooking time to 8-10 minutes, depending on size of joints). If the sauce starts overflowing, lower the heat.
At the same time as the chicken is cooking boil your eggs. Place eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to boil on a medium high flame and cook the eggs for 6 minutes from when the water starts to boil. Remove from heat and drain. Once eggs are cool to touch, peel and keep chilled for later use.
Turn off the heat, and leave the pot covered for at least 6 hours (if using joints the pot only needs to be covered for 20-30 minutes). Place the boiled eggs into the cooled pot and leave to colour, they will float so you’ll need to dunk them a few times so they colour evenly. Leave the eggs in for at least 30 minutes or longer. At this point if you are using a whole chicken you will need to remove it and chop into pieces with a cleaver (make sure you pat the bird dry first or it will get quite messy!).
When you are ready to serve heat the chicken and eggs on a low flame – just high enough to warm back up but not cook the meat further. You can also serve the chicken at room temperature if preferred.
Serve with plenty of steamed jasmine rice and some Chinese veggies.
* also known as rock candy, and available at oriental supermarkets