Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chinese Soy Sauce Chicken

Chinese style Soy Sauce Chicken can be found hanging next to the roast duck behind the glass case in Chinatown or at a Chinese BBQ restaurant.  If you don't speak Chinese (which I don't), just point at what you want.

F.Y.I., you don't have to order the whole chicken or duck you can order 1/4 or 1/2.  I suggest 1/2  because you will end up with an even amount of dark and white meat parts.  But be warned, if you order anything less than a 1/2, you will get the official "stink eye".

What the Chinese butcher lacks in social skill he makes up for in speed.  You can find him behind the glass case with a giant cleaver in his hand.  First he will glare at you to rush you along.  This is his way of saying hurry up.  Then he will ask you in what sounds more like a scolding "Chop or NO Chop?" in a gruff, heavily accented voice as he starts to bring the cleaver down to start chopping before you can answer.  At this point there is no stopping him.  So think fast and request the chop or no chop option before your chicken hits the board or you are guaranteed to have it chopped.  This holds true for pretty much anything that is hanging behind the glass (BBQ Pork, Crispy Skin Roast Pork or Duck).

If you would like to attempt a soy sauce chicken at home this recipe will help you out.  Once you do it, you will make it all the time because its so easy.

This is not the prettiest picture of a whole chicken.  I deliberately chose it to express how important it is to take out the back of the chicken and spread it out in the pan for even cooking.  This may not be how they make it at the Chinese bbq joint, but it makes a world of difference when cooking at home.  Taking the time to remove the back and spread out the chicken will insure that the breast meat stays juicy while the legs and thighs cook through.  If you don't want to take out the back, it will still be delicious but it will take a bit more time to cook.

Tip - if you want to see how to take out the back of your chicken see my turkey post.

4 – 5    pound           whole chicken

½         cup                  brown sugar, packed
½         cup                  white sugar
1          cup                  Kikkoman soy sauce
1          cup                  water
2          cloves              garlic, minced
1          Tbsp.               fresh ginger, minced
1          whole               serano chile (optional)
1          whole               star anise

TO THICKEN (optional)
2          Tbsp.               cornstarch
2          Tbsp.               water

Rinse the chicken and cut out the back (optional).  Place chicken breast side up in a pot large enough to hold the chicken with a lid.

Mix all ingredients together and pour over chicken.

Bring to a boil and baste chicken with the sauce.  Lower heat to med-low and cover.  Cook chicken for 45 minutes and spoon sauce over chicken about every 15 minutes.  After 45 minutes, turn off the stove and lets sit covered for 20 - 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  To check; poke the thickest part of the thigh with a knife and if it bleeds cover and cook for another 5 minutes.


  1. Will this method work with duck?

    1. Hi - I wouldn't recommend using duck, because duck is really fatty and the skin would become tough and rubbery with this cooking method. When cooking duck (which I am no expert) there is a process to get the skin crispy by blanching and hanging to dry.