Last Saturday, I went to pick up 2 farm fresh chickens and a dozen eggies (my term for ‘special’ eggs, that come straight from a local farm or my friends’ backyards) from a big white van in front of a Home Depot by my house. Totally random, right?..I know….but it was exhilarating! The thought of a farmer coming into your neighborhood to drop off chickens that he raised himself gets me SO excited! As I walked up to the big white van, there was an odd smell of, well….chickens and livestockyness. I’ll be honest and not ashamed to admit….I kind of appreciated the funk. I’m pretty sure that very few others would share the same sentiment about chicken funk, but it made me feel like this was the real deal. It was Brian Godfrey of Godfrey Family Farms who I met at the big white van, and he brought me the real deal – and that is what it was.
I ordered 2 chickens knowing that one would be given to my parents. My dad always said that he missed the good chicken flavor of ‘real’ chicken from his days in Hong Kong. I wasn’t sure if I knew what ‘real’ chicken tasted like – so I figured pastured finished chickens that walk around and eat grass and worms like they’re made to do, instead of hormones and who knows what would do the trick. I told my mom she needed to cook this Godfrey Family chicken and that my dad would be the judge of ‘real’ chickenness. My mom ended up making White Cut Chicken, which is, in my opinion, probably the most unadulterated way of enjoying fresh chicken, Cantonese style. It’s the whole chicken, poached in water with some ginger, garlic and salt, chopped into large pieces and served over white rice with a ginger scallion sauce. How simple, yet so incredibly divine! The verdict: Dad was happy. He and mom both got some ‘real’ chicken goodness.
As always, mom inspired me. I, too, wanted to make something super traditionally Asian to enjoy my chicken, so Soy Sauce Chicken is what first came to mind. The traditional way of making this recipe is to poach the chicken whole in soy sauce, but I wanted to save the carcass to make something else, so I butchered the chicken into 8 pieces: 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 breasts, and saved the carcass for future chicken goodness. The cut chicken pieces also help spread the chicken in a pan, so less soy sauce is needed to cover the chicken. Soy Sauce Chicken served over white rice with a side of braised bok choy and a drizzle of the chicken soy sauce – ummm….YES PLEASE! Cantonese soul food at its best!
1 Cup Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Rice Wine
1 stick of Chinese Brown Sugar*, can substitute using ~3/4 to 1 cup of brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, whole
1 star anise, whole
2 inch piece of ginger, sliced thick and pounded
8 Pieces of chicken (any combination of thighs, drumsticks, wings, breasts)
Combine all the ingredients together, except the chicken, in a deep pan and cook over medium high heat. When all of the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is simmering, place the chicken, skin side down into the pan, trying to fit it all in one layer. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip the chicken so that the soy sauce can color and flavor the other side of the chicken and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Keep flipping and cooking 3 to 4 more times until the chicken is fully cooked and glazed with a deep brown color. The sauce should be the consistency of maple syrup. Serve the chicken hot over rice with a generous drizzle of the soy sauce.
*Chinese brown sugar, sometimes labeled “Brown Candy” can be purchased at most Asian markets. They come in stick form and if chopped into little pieces, can pretty much be eaten as candy. I used to sneak little pieces of it when my mom used it to make sugar filled mochi dumplings for Chinese New Year.