Soy sauce chicken

Soy sauce chicken

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

This is a cinch to make and it’s one of those classic dishes that’s good to have in your repertoire. All the lovely aromatics in the soy sauce ‘stock’ (also called ‘master stock’) permeate the chicken as it cooks. And, whatever you do, don’t throw out that cooking liquid. Boil it hard to kill any bugs, then cool and freeze it between uses. It gets better over time, and in China some cooks are using master stocks that have been on the go for decades.


Quantity Ingredient
125ml dark soy sauce
375ml light soy sauce
80ml shaoxing rice wine
250g rock sugar, chopped
2 1/2 star anise
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
3 pieces dried liquorice root
2 pieces dried tangerine peel
2 cinnamon sticks
6 slices ginger, unpeeled
1 x 1.5kg chicken


  1. Combine the soy sauces, rice wine, sugar and 1.5 litres water in a saucepan large enough to snugly hold the chicken and liquid. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Put the star anise, fennel seeds, liquorice root and tangerine peel in a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) and tie securely. Add to the simmering mixture along with the cinnamon sticks and ginger, then add the chicken, breast side down, pushing it down to submerge it. If necessary, add a little extra water to just cover the chicken. Bring the liquid back to a low simmer, then cover the pan and cook over a very low heat for 1 hour. Don’t allow the liquid to simmer hard (bubbles should only just be breaking the surface) or the chicken will be tough. Resist the temptation to lift the lid. Remove the pan from the heat, then leave at room temperature for 2–3 hours, or until cooled — the chicken will continue to cook as the liquid cools.
  3. Remove the chicken from the liquid, taking care not to break the skin. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids. Using a sharp cleaver, cut the chicken through the bone into bite-sized pieces. Serve drizzled with a little of the cooking liquid.
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