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A plate of soy sauce chicken with hard boiled egg and spicy sambal
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5 from 7 votes

Easy Chinese Braised Soy Sauce Chicken Thighs

A simplified but still delicious version of the most popular recipe on my website (Chinatown soya sauce chicken): this easy Chinese braised soy sauce chicken thighs recipe is simple to make in one pot and done in ⅓ the time!
Prep Time3 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cantonese, Chinese
Servings: 4 people
Author: Zen

Equipment

  • Pot I used a Le Creuset stainless steel pasta pot
  • sieve Optional, only if you plan to store the leftover sauce for future use

Ingredients

  • 2.2 lb chicken thighs (1kg) Try to use ones that are about the same weight so all the thighs will poach at the same rate. Take out 15-30 min before cooking so it's at room temperature.
  • 2 thumbs ginger, slice but no need to peel
  • 3 star anise Substitute with a pinch of 5 spice powder if you're out. Don't over do it.
  • 2 bay leaves Don't use Indian bay leaves- not the same thing!
  • 1⅓ C light soy sauce Not to be confused with sweet soy sauce or kicap manis
  • ¾ C Chinese rose wine, meikweilu Sub with Chinese shaoxing, sake or dry sherry but note the final chicken will be nowhere as fragrant (still tasty though!) The rose wine notes are really the star of this recipe- if you prefer to have the light soy sauce dominant, reduce the wine used to ⅜C instead. I highly recommend trying the recipe as it is first though. I don't even drink much and I love this sauce!)
  • ¾ C granulated white sugar Feel free to use rock sugar instead but pounding it down to size isn't quick
  • 2 T dark soy sauce Not to be confused with sweet soy sauce or kicap manis
  • 1.5 C Water I add the water last to wash out any of the sauces that are stuck to the cups- dark soy sauce is particularly sticky!
  • Neutral oil to glaze Very optional- I personally don't think it needs it.
  • Sambal chilli, to serve Optional: this is South East Asian style not traditional Cantonese Hong Kong style
  • Rice or noodles, to serve Optional. See post above on how to eat this dish.

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients to the pot. Make sure that at least ¾ of each chicken thigh is submerged in the sauce. If not, your pot is too large.
  • Bring to the boil on medium or medium-high heat, stirring for the sugar to dissolve. Don't use high heat as you don't want to shock your chicken and make the meat contract and be tough. (I used heat of 7 on a Bosch induction stove with a maximum fire of 9)
  • Once it's boiling, turn down to medium or low heat so that the sauce is at a simmer, uncovered i.e. you see tiny bubbles rising to the top of the sauce. Let it simmer for 35 minutes. Note after some time, the sauce may end up hot enough and start boiling, so you may want to adjust the heat down. I started with the fire at 5 (Bosch induction stove, maximum 9) and eventually reduced to 2.5-3.
  • After 35 minutes have passed, flip the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes more then test for doneness- juices should run clear when the thickest part is sliced. I like to slice from underneath so the skin isn't cut and the thighs remain presentable.
  • If not done, return to the pot to simmer a bit more.
  • If done, remove all the thighs from the pot even if you're not eating them immediately (you don't want them to continue cooking in the pot). Optional glazing with a little oil if you want a glossier skin. Serve with rice or noodles. Stir the sauce before ladling a bit over the rice or noodles. (Taste first as the sauce can be salty though the chicken is perfectly seasoned.)
  • I recommend keeping the braising sauce as master sauce- sieve and store in fridge for 3 days or freeze it. There are recipes ideas in the post regarding what to do with the sauce!

Notes

The star of the recipe is the soft and fragrant chicken skin, so don't discard it!
If you want a thicker sauce, add some chicken wings or feet to braise with the thighs OR add some cornstarch at the end. (Mix 1T of corn starch with 3-4T of the braising sauce so that no clumps remain, then add little by little into the sauce, stirring and tasting after each addition. It's VERY easy for cornstarch to turn everything into a gooey mess, which is not nice. Personally I find the sauce perfect with rice but thicken it a bit when eaten with noodles.
You can add hard boiled eggs and tofu to braise with the chicken legs but don't add too much and overcrowd the pot. Also remember that the chicken should be immersed in the sauce, so these extras should be on top of the thighs and not below (they'll end up pushing the chicken out of the sauce and they won't cook properly).