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A Wholesome Chinese Dark Soy Sauce Chicken Recipe

If you're a Cantonese cuisine lover, then you've probably heard of soy sauce chicken, or See Yao Gai (豉油鸡). This dish is a Chinatown classic that's loved for its tender, flavourful meat and rich, savoury sauce. The secret to making the perfect soy sauce chicken lies in the quality of your ingredients and the right cooking techniques.

A bubbling pot of dark soy sauce chicken, simmering with ginger, garlic, and star anise, filling the air with rich, savory aromas

One of the essential ingredients in this recipe is dark soy sauce, which gives the chicken its signature colour and depth of flavour. Unlike regular soy sauce, dark soy sauce is thicker, sweeter, and less salty. It's made by fermenting soybeans with a combination of wheat, salt, and sugar. Other key ingredients include sugar, salt, Chinese rose wine or Shaoxing rice wine, and aromatics like ginger, garlic, and green onions.

To make soy sauce chicken, you'll need to marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, salt, and water for at least 30 minutes. Then, you'll need to cook the chicken in a pot of boiling water until it's almost done. Finally, you'll need to simmer the chicken in the sauce until it's fully cooked and the sauce has thickened. This recipe is perfect for a family dinner or a special occasion.

Key Takeaways

  • Soy sauce chicken is a classic Cantonese dish that's loved for its tender, flavourful meat and rich, savoury sauce.
  • Dark soy sauce is an essential ingredient in this recipe, along with sugar, salt, Chinese rose wine or Shaoxing rice wine, and aromatics like ginger, garlic, and green onions.
  • To make soy sauce chicken, you'll need to marinate the chicken, cook it in boiling water, and simmer it in the sauce until fully cooked. Consider adding seafood to the recipe for a twist on the classic dish.

Essential Ingredients

A pot of simmering dark soy sauce chicken with garlic, ginger, and star anise, surrounded by bowls of soy sauce, sugar, and water

When it comes to making Chinese dark soy sauce chicken, there are several essential ingredients that you'll need to have on hand. These include the main components, aromatics and spices, and soy sauce mix.

Main Components

The main component of this dish is, of course, the chicken. It's important to choose a young cage-free chicken that weighs less than 2 pounds. This is because smaller chickens tend to be more tender and flavorful after simmering.

Aromatics and Spices

Aromatics and spices are an important part of this dish as they add depth and complexity to the flavor. Some of the commonly used aromatics and spices include ginger, garlic, scallions, star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves, and rock sugar. You can also add seafood, such as prawns or squid, to the dish for an added depth of flavor.

Soy Sauce Mix

The soy sauce mix is what gives this dish its signature flavor. You'll need both light and dark soy sauce to achieve the perfect balance of flavor. The light soy sauce provides a salty and savory flavor, while the dark soy sauce adds a hint of caramelized taste and a beautiful brown color to the chicken. You can also add Shaoxing wine to the mix for an added depth of flavor.

The essential ingredients for making Chinese dark soy sauce chicken include a young cage-free chicken, aromatics and spices, and a soy sauce mix made from both light and dark soy sauce. Don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, such as seafood, to create your own unique version of this classic dish.

Preparation Techniques

A pot bubbling with dark soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, while chicken pieces marinate nearby in a bowl. On the counter, a cutting board holds sliced green onions and cilantro

Chicken Prep

To prepare your chicken for the dark soy sauce recipe, you will need to clean it thoroughly. Remove any giblets and rinse the chicken cavity with cold water. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and set aside.

Marinade Preparation

The marinade is the key to making the chicken tender and flavourful. To make the marinade, combine dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rock sugar, garlic, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon stick in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well, ensuring that the sugar dissolves completely.

Braising Process

After preparing the marinade, it's time to braise the chicken. Heat up some oil in a deep pot and add garlic, shallots, and ginger. Fry until aromatic, then add the marinade and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the chicken to the pot and make sure it is fully submerged in the braising liquid. Cover the pot and let it simmer for at least 45 minutes. Turn the chicken occasionally to ensure even cooking.

If you want to add seafood to the recipe, you can use prawns or scallops. Simply add them to the pot during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. This will give the seafood enough time to cook without becoming overcooked and rubbery.

By following these preparation techniques, you can create a delicious dark soy sauce chicken that is tender and flavourful.

Cooking Method

A wok sizzles as dark soy sauce is poured over sizzling chicken pieces, filling the air with a savory aroma. Ginger and garlic add depth to the rich, glossy sauce as it simmers, creating a mouthwatering Chinese dark soy

If you are planning to cook Chinese Dark Soy Sauce Chicken, you need to follow the right cooking method to achieve the perfect taste and texture. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Initial Cooking Steps

First, you need to prepare a deep pot or a clay pot. Add a tablespoon of oil and heat it. Once it is hot, add garlic, shallots, ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise and bay leaves and fry until aromatic. Keep the heat on low to fully release their aroma without burning.

Simmering and Boiling

Next, add in the 1 litre of water, 1.5 cups of dark soy sauce, spring onion and rock sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. This will allow the chicken to absorb the flavour of the sauce and become tender.

Final Touches

After simmering, add the chicken to the pot and make sure it is fully submerged in the sauce. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 20 minutes. This will ensure that the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce has thickened.

If you want to add seafood to the recipe, you can use prawns or squid. Simply add them to the pot along with the chicken and follow the same cooking method. This will add a delicious seafood flavour to the dish.

By following these simple steps, you can easily cook Chinese Dark Soy Sauce Chicken at home and impress your friends and family.

Serving Suggestions

A plate of succulent dark soy sauce chicken surrounded by steamed bok choy and garnished with sesame seeds

Accompaniments

Dark soy sauce chicken is a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of sides and accompaniments. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Steamed rice: This is a classic pairing for dark soy sauce chicken. The rice can be plain or flavoured with ginger, garlic, or other aromatics.
  • Noodles: Another great option is to serve the chicken with noodles. You can use egg noodles, rice noodles, or even udon noodles. Toss the noodles with a little sesame oil and soy sauce for extra flavour.
  • Ginger scallion sauce: This sauce is a great condiment for dark soy sauce chicken. It's made with ginger, scallions, oil, and salt, and adds a fresh, zingy flavour to the dish.
  • Spring onions: Garnish the chicken with thinly sliced spring onions for a pop of colour and flavour.

If you want to add some seafood to your meal, you could try serving the chicken with some stir-fried prawns or steamed fish. For the prawns, simply stir-fry them with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. For the fish, steam it with some ginger and rice wine.

Presentation Tips

Dark soy sauce chicken is a visually appealing dish, and there are a few ways you can make it look even more impressive:

  • Serve the chicken on a bed of steamed greens, such as bok choy or broccoli, for a pop of colour and added nutrition.
  • Arrange the chicken pieces on a platter and garnish with sliced chillies, coriander, and lime wedges for a Thai-inspired twist.
  • Serve the chicken in individual bowls with a ladleful of broth and some cooked rice noodles for a warming, comforting meal.

Whatever accompaniments and presentation style you choose, be sure to serve the chicken hot and enjoy!

Nutritional Information

A bottle of Chinese dark soy sauce sits on a kitchen counter next to a bowl of marinated chicken. The label displays nutritional information

When it comes to cooking with dark soy sauce, it's important to keep in mind the nutritional information. While dark soy sauce is a flavorful addition to many dishes, it is also high in sodium. One tablespoon of dark soy sauce contains approximately 920mg of sodium, which is nearly half of the recommended daily intake for an adult.

If you're watching your sodium intake, it's important to use dark soy sauce sparingly. You can also try using a low-sodium soy sauce or a sodium-free alternative.

In terms of calories, the amount of dark soy sauce used in a recipe is typically not significant enough to make a significant impact. However, if you're looking to reduce your calorie intake, you can try using less oil in the recipe or using skinless chicken.

If you're looking to add more protein to the dish, you can consider adding seafood such as shrimp or scallops. These seafood options can be added to the recipe towards the end of the cooking process, allowing them to cook quickly and absorb the flavors of the dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

A bubbling pot of dark soy sauce chicken, surrounded by ingredients like ginger, garlic, and star anise, with steam rising from the rich, savory broth

What are the key ingredients for a classic Chinese dark soy sauce chicken?

The key ingredients for a classic Chinese dark soy sauce chicken are whole chicken, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, ginger, garlic, sugar, and star anise. Some recipes may also call for additional spices or herbs, such as cinnamon or dried orange peel, to enhance the flavour.

How can I adapt the dark soy sauce chicken recipe for a slow cooker?

To adapt the dark soy sauce chicken recipe for a slow cooker, you can follow the same steps as the traditional recipe, but cook the chicken on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours. This will allow the chicken to absorb the flavours of the sauce and become tender. You can also add vegetables, such as carrots or potatoes, to the slow cooker for a complete meal.

Is there a difference between braised soy sauce chicken and stir-fry soy sauce chicken?

Yes, there is a difference between braised soy sauce chicken and stir-fry soy sauce chicken. Braised soy sauce chicken is cooked slowly in a pot with the sauce and other ingredients, while stir-fry soy sauce chicken is quickly cooked in a wok with high heat. Braised soy sauce chicken is usually more tender and flavourful, while stir-fry soy sauce chicken is more crispy and has a stronger taste of the sauce.

What's the simplest way to prepare a Chinese dark soy sauce chicken dish?

The simplest way to prepare a Chinese dark soy sauce chicken dish is to marinate the chicken in the sauce for at least 30 minutes, then cook it in a pot with the sauce and other ingredients until the chicken is fully cooked. You can also use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker to make the cooking process even easier.

Can dark soy sauce be used for both marinating and stir-frying in Chinese cooking?

Yes, dark soy sauce can be used for both marinating and stir-frying in Chinese cooking. However, it is important to note that dark soy sauce has a stronger flavour and a thicker consistency than light soy sauce, so you may need to adjust the amount of sauce used in the recipe accordingly.

What are some tips for achieving the authentic flavour of Hong Kong style soya sauce chicken?

To achieve the authentic flavour of Hong Kong style soya sauce chicken, you can use a combination of dark soy sauce and light soy sauce to create a rich and savoury sauce. You can also add Chinese rose wine or Shaoxing rice wine to enhance the flavour. Additionally, adding seafood such as shrimp or crab can add a unique twist to the dish.