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Cook Like a Pro: The Best Chinese Braised Whole Chicken Recipe

Unleash the inner chef in you with the most delicious and flavourful way to cook a Chinese braised whole chicken. This dish is a classic in Chinese cuisine and is known for its succulent meat, rich sauce, and aromatic spices. While there are many variations of this recipe, they all involve slow cooking a whole chicken in a savoury braising liquid until it is tender and juicy.

A whole chicken simmering in a rich, dark sauce with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce, surrounded by aromatic spices and herbs

To make Chinese braised whole chicken, you'll need a few essential ingredients such as soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, and star anise. These ingredients work together to create a complex and delicious flavour profile that is sure to impress your dinner guests. While the preparation and cooking process may take some time, the end result is well worth the effort.

Key Takeaways

  • Chinese braised whole chicken is a classic dish in Chinese cuisine known for its succulent meat, rich sauce, and aromatic spices.
  • Essential ingredients for this dish include soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, and star anise.
  • While the preparation and cooking process may take some time, the end result is well worth the effort.

Essential Ingredients

A whole chicken simmering in a rich, aromatic Chinese braising liquid, surrounded by star anise, ginger, and green onions

When it comes to making an authentic Chinese braised whole chicken recipe, there are a few essential ingredients that you simply can't do without. These ingredients are what give the dish its signature flavour and aroma, and they are what make it so irresistible.

Selecting the Right Chicken

The first and most important ingredient in any Chinese braised whole chicken recipe is, of course, the chicken itself. It is important to select a fresh, high-quality chicken that is free from any blemishes or defects. You can use any type of chicken you prefer, but a free-range or organic chicken will usually yield the best results.

Key Flavours and Aromatics

The key to a delicious Chinese braised whole chicken recipe is in the flavours and aromatics that are used to season the dish. Here are some of the key ingredients you will need:

  • Ginger: One of the most important ingredients in any Chinese dish, ginger adds a spicy, aromatic flavour that is essential to the dish.

  • Soy sauce: A staple in Chinese cuisine, soy sauce adds a rich, savoury flavour to the dish.

  • Dark soy sauce: This thicker, darker soy sauce is used to add colour and depth of flavour to the dish.

  • Light soy sauce: This thinner, lighter soy sauce is used to balance out the flavours and add a salty note to the dish.

  • Shaoxing wine: This rice wine adds a sweet, nutty flavour to the dish and helps to tenderize the chicken.

  • Scallions: These green onions add a fresh, oniony flavour to the dish.

  • Star anise and clove: These spices are used to add a warm, sweet, and slightly spicy flavour to the dish.

  • Dried shiitake mushroom: These mushrooms add a meaty, umami flavour to the dish.

  • Rock sugar: This type of sugar is used to balance out the flavours and add a subtle sweetness to the dish.

  • Oyster sauce: This sauce is made from oysters and adds a rich, savoury flavour to the dish.

  • Sesame oil: This oil is used to add a nutty, toasty flavour to the dish.

As a suggestion, you can also add seafood to the recipe, such as shrimp or scallops, to add an extra layer of flavour and texture to the dish. However, it is important to note that seafood will require a shorter cooking time than the chicken, so it should be added towards the end of the cooking process.

Preparation Techniques

A whole chicken being marinated in soy sauce, ginger, and spices, then simmered in a pot with broth and vegetables until tender

Marinating the Chicken

Before braising the whole chicken, it is important to marinate it first. This will allow the chicken to absorb all the flavors of the marinade, resulting in a more flavorful and delicious dish. To marinate the chicken, you will need a large bowl or a resealable plastic bag.

You can use a variety of ingredients to make the marinade, such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, ginger, garlic, and scallions. You can also add seafood to the marinade, such as prawns or scallops, to give the dish an extra depth of flavor.

To marinate the chicken, simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl or a plastic bag, add the chicken, and make sure it is fully coated with the marinade. Then, cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Braising Fundamentals

Braising is a cooking technique that involves searing the chicken first to create a crispy skin and then simmering it in a liquid until it becomes tender and juicy. To braise a whole chicken, you will need a wok or a large pot, depending on the size of the chicken.

To start, heat up the wok or the pot over high heat and add some oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and sear it on all sides until it is golden brown. This will help to seal in the juices and create a crispy skin.

Next, add the liquid to the wok or the pot. You can use a variety of liquids, such as chicken stock, water, or Shaoxing wine. You can also add other ingredients, such as ginger, garlic, scallions, and mushrooms, to enhance the flavor of the dish.

Once the liquid is added, bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the wok or the pot and let the chicken cook for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the meat is fully cooked and tender.

If you want to achieve an even more flavorful and tender chicken, you can also braise it in the oven. Simply transfer the chicken and the liquid to a baking dish, cover it with foil, and bake it in the oven at 350°F for about an hour or until the meat is fully cooked and tender.

As a suggestion, you can also add seafood to the braising liquid, such as prawns or scallops, to give the dish an extra depth of flavor. However, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly, as seafood cooks faster than chicken.

Cooking Instructions

A whole chicken simmering in a rich, savory sauce in a large pot on a stove. Surrounding ingredients like ginger, garlic, and green onions

Cooking the Chicken

To begin, clean the whole chicken and soak it in clean water for 30 minutes. Drain the water and marinate the chicken with a mixture of cooking wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch for at least 2-3 hours. Be sure to marinate the inner side of the chicken as well.

Next, heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or large pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until it's browned on all sides. Then, add enough water to cover the chicken and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Making the Sauce

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl, mix together soybean paste, sugar, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and water until well combined. Set the sauce aside until the chicken is done cooking.

Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pot and set it aside. Strain the remaining liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and return it to the pot. Heat the liquid over medium heat and add the sauce mixture. Stir until the sauce thickens and becomes gravy-like.

If you want to add seafood to the dish, you can try adding shrimp or scallops to the sauce mixture while it's cooking. Be sure to cook the seafood thoroughly before serving.

That's it! You can now serve the braised whole chicken with the gravy on top. Enjoy!

Serving and Presentation

A whole braised chicken sits on a large platter, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds, surrounded by steamed bok choy and a savory sauce

Accompaniments

When serving your Chinese braised whole chicken, there are several accompaniments that you can consider. The most common accompaniment is steamed rice, which pairs well with the rich and flavourful sauce. Alternatively, you can also serve the chicken with noodles for a heartier meal.

To add some freshness and crunch to your dish, you can garnish with sliced green onion or spring onions. Another option is to serve the chicken with some roasted or mashed potatoes. For a healthier option, consider pairing the chicken with a green vegetable such as bok choy or broccoli.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also add some seafood to the dish. Shrimp or scallops would be a great addition and would complement the flavours of the chicken and sauce. Just be sure to cook the seafood separately and add it to the dish towards the end of the cooking process to prevent overcooking.

Plating Tips

When it comes to plating your Chinese braised whole chicken, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Firstly, make sure to serve the chicken warm to ensure that the flavours are at their best.

To create an attractive presentation, you can carve the chicken into smaller pieces and arrange them on a platter. Drizzle some of the sauce over the chicken and garnish with sliced green onion or spring onions.

Alternatively, you can serve the chicken whole and pour the sauce over the top. This is a great option if you want to impress your guests with a show-stopping centrepiece.

No matter how you choose to serve your Chinese braised whole chicken, be sure to enjoy it with family and friends. It's a dish that is meant to be shared and savoured.

Nutritional Information

A whole chicken simmering in a savory Chinese braising liquid, surrounded by aromatic herbs, spices, and vegetables

If you are conscious about the nutritional value of the food you eat, you would be pleased to know that Chinese braised whole chicken is a healthy and balanced meal. It is a great source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles and tissues. The dish is also low in carbohydrates, making it a good option for people who are watching their carb intake.

A serving of Chinese braised whole chicken has around 220-250 calories, depending on the size of the chicken used. The dish is low in fat, especially saturated fat, which is known to increase the risk of heart disease. However, it is important to note that the skin of the chicken contains most of the fat, so it is recommended to remove it before eating.

The dish contains a moderate amount of cholesterol and sodium, which should be consumed in moderation by people with certain health conditions. However, it is a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart.

Including seafood in the recipe is a great way to add more nutrition to the dish. You can use shrimp or scallops, which are both low in fat and high in protein. They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain and heart health.

In terms of vitamins and minerals, Chinese braised whole chicken is a good source of vitamin A and iron. It also contains some vitamin C and calcium, although the amounts are relatively low.

Here are the nutrition facts for a serving of Chinese braised whole chicken:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 220-250
Fat 10-15 g
Saturated Fat 3-5 g
Cholesterol 60-80 mg
Sodium 500-700 mg
Carbohydrates 5-10 g
Fiber 1-2 g
Protein 25-30 g
Potassium 400-500 mg
Vitamin A 10-15%
Vitamin C 4-6%
Calcium 2-4%
Iron 10-15%

Frequently Asked Questions

A whole chicken simmering in a fragrant Chinese braising liquid, surrounded by aromatic spices and herbs in a traditional clay pot

What's the secret to a tender braised chicken?

The secret to a tender braised chicken is to use a whole chicken and to braise it slowly over low heat. This will ensure that the chicken is cooked through, while remaining juicy and tender. It's also important to use the right combination of ingredients, such as soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, to add flavour and depth to the dish.

Can I make a braised chicken in the oven, and if so, how?

Yes, you can make a braised chicken in the oven. Simply preheat your oven to 180°C and place your chicken in a roasting pan. Add your braising liquid, such as soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, and cover the pan with foil. Bake the chicken for 1-2 hours, or until it is cooked through and tender.

What ingredients do I need for a traditional soy sauce chicken?

To make a traditional soy sauce chicken, you will need a whole chicken, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sugar, and water. You can also add other ingredients, such as star anise, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns, to add flavour to the dish.

How do I achieve that authentic Hong Kong soya sauce chicken taste at home?

To achieve that authentic Hong Kong soya sauce chicken taste at home, you can try using a combination of light and dark soy sauce, along with ginger, garlic, and sugar. You can also add other ingredients, such as star anise, cinnamon, and Sichuan peppercorns, to add flavour to the dish. Additionally, you can try using seafood, such as dried scallops or dried shrimp, to add depth to the flavour.

What's the best way to reheat leftover soy sauce chicken to keep it moist?

The best way to reheat leftover soy sauce chicken is to place it in a covered dish with a small amount of water or chicken stock. Microwave the dish on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. This will help to keep the chicken moist and juicy.

Is there a difference between using light or dark soy sauce for braising chicken?

Yes, there is a difference between using light or dark soy sauce for braising chicken. Light soy sauce is saltier and lighter in colour, while dark soy sauce is sweeter and darker in colour. Using a combination of both light and dark soy sauce will help to balance the flavour and colour of the dish. Additionally, you can try using seafood, such as dried scallops or dried shrimp, to add depth to the flavour.