I’ve decided to break my pasta recipe streak and post a Vietnamese recipe instead. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything Vietnamese. After I made this for the first time and showed the process on my Instagram stories a couple days ago, I received a few requests for the recipe so here it is!
Braising is a common Vietnamese method for preparing meats, and it just means that the meat is seared or browned on dry high heat, and then slowly cooked in a liquid over lower heat. My mom made a version of this often when we were kids but she used chicken drumsticks. Normally Vietnamese-braised chicken is made with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks, but I don’t like chicken skin all that much so I decided to use chicken breasts instead. Using bone-in, skin-on chicken would give you more flavour and moist chicken, so feel free to use whatever you want.
The chicken doesn’t need to marinate for long – I had it sit in the fridge in the marinade for about 15-20 minutes while I cleaned the kitchen and made my lunch for the next day. You’ll be using that marinade as the liquid to braise the chicken in later so all that flavour will have plenty of time to soak in during the cooking process as well.
This recipe calls for Coco Rico which is a coconut soda that you can find at any Asian food store. I always have a few cans in my pantry as I also use it in my Braised Pork and Eggs recipe. If you don’t have Coco Rico on hand, you can use coconut water as a substitute.
Serve the chicken with some jasmine rice and a simple vegetable. I served mine with rice and sliced up some fresh cucumbers as my vegetable. I drizzled the glaze on the rice, cucumbers, and chicken, and the meal was a perfect combination of hot fluffy rice, cold crisp cucumbers, savoury chicken, and a slightly sweet glaze.
Sometimes whole chickens are on sale and I buy a couple and they sit in the freezer because I don’t know what to do with them. I read all these blogs that say that buying and preparing a whole chicken is very economical and frugal, but I think I’m doing it wrong. I feel like I have all these wasted bits and parts when I prepare a whole chicken. Maybe I’m just not that good at carving it and getting the most meat out of it. I also never do anything with the carcass, even though I know I should be using it to make homemade chicken broth. That will be my next culinary milestone – making my own broths. I’ll have to ask my mom how she makes her broths. She makes the best broths, super clear and very aromatic. I’ll keep you guys posted.
Anyway, so I had this whole chicken sitting in my freezer and I wanted to do something with it already to free up some freezer space. I was just going to make a basic roasted chicken, seasoned with lemon and rosemary, but then my sister shared a picture of a soy sauce chicken that she had made.
My sister’s soy sauce chicken
It looked so good, so I thought I’d give it a try. Now this recipe calls for a lot more effort than I usually put into a normal family dinner, so I wouldn’t make it on a regular basis. However, it would be a pretty impressive chicken to make for dinner parties!
There are a few key points to note about the ingredients. First of all, there are some pretty Asian ingredients in this recipe, so your best bet is to hit up your local Asian grocery store. (Ngoy Hoa, if you’re from Regina). Spend the money on these ingredients now because I guarantee you’ll be using them again if you continue to follow me on this blog. The Asian ingredients are star anise (a star shaped southeast Asian spice). Remember? We used it in the Vietnamese beef stew recipe. The recipe also calls for light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. If you go to a Canadian grocery store, you’re not going to find different types of soy sauce (actually, Superstore might have light and dark soy sauces). Using the two different kinds of soy sauces will add depth of flavour to this chicken. The abundance of soy sauce in this recipe makes the chicken super salty. So for the chicken broth that is required, make sure you use no-salt or low-salt chicken broth. Otherwise, it will be way too salty. Lastly, you’ll need some Chinese cooking wine. You can also find this at your local Asian food store.
Also, the green onion oil may seem like an optional addition but it is NOT optional. It is essential to the dish so don’t skip this step!
The layers of flavour in this dish is unreal. The salty, silky chicken, the pungent green onion oil, the steaming hot rice – it is so filling and comforting. The strong flavours of this dish would be best paired with a lighter red wine like a Zinfandel. However, I didn’t have any Zinfandel on hand but I had a bottle of Menage a Trois, which is a Zinfandel/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. It was an amazing pairing! This wine would also pair well with other strongly flavoured Asian meats like Chinese barbecue pork.
In a pot over medium heat, combine the green onions, ginger, star anise, both soy sauces, chicken stock, chinese cooking wine, brown sugar, oyster sauce, paprika and black pepper.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place the pot over ice to cool the sauce down to room temperature. Don't skip this step. If you pour hot sauce over raw chicken, you're going to end up cooking the chicken in random places and the uneven heat can cause the temperature of the chicken to rise to unsafe levels conducive to salmonella.
Place the chicken and the cooled soy sauce mixture into a large Ziplock freezer bag and coat the chicken all over with the sauce. Transfer to the fridge to marinate overnight.
PREPARING GREEN ONION OIL:
Place diced green onions, grated ginger, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Heat canola oil in a pot over high heat until it starts to smoke slightly.
Pour the oil over the green onion mixture. It will sizzle and smoke so make sure your exhaust fan or air exchange is on!
Stir the mixture and then set aside and let it rest for 2 hours before using (I usually make this right before I put the chicken in the oven).
TO COOK THE CHICKEN:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Choose a pot that will fit the chicken neatly without too much extra space. I used my Le Creuset French Oven that I got for Christmas and it was the perfect size!
Remove the chicken from the Ziplock bag and then pour the marinade into the pot.
Bring the marinade to a simmer over medium heat, then place the chicken into the pot.
Turn the chicken a few times to coat it with the sauce, then put the pot into the oven uncovered.
Every 15 minutes or so, turn the chicken and baste it with the sauce evenly over every surface. (I did a poor job of this the first time I made it, so if you look at my chicken compared to my sister's in the pictures above, mine isn't as evenly darkened as hers).
The chicken should be perfectly done after 60-75 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest while you prepare the sauce.
Strain the sauce from the pot into a small sauce pan. Add 2 tbsp of no-salt chicken stock (or water) to thin out the saltiness. Whisk and keep it warm over low heat.
To serve, carve the chicken into small pieces and place over jasmine rice. Drizzle some of the sauce over the chicken and rice, and add a spoonful of the green onion oil.