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Soy Sauce Chicken: A Cantonese Classic

Soy Sauce Chicken is a Cantonese culinary treasure, a dish where the humble chicken is elevated to new heights through a masterful blend of soy sauce and aromatic spices. Known as “See Yao Gai,” the chicken is poached in a rich, fragrant broth that imparts a savory and slightly sweet flavor, resulting in a glossy, mahogany-hued skin that is utterly irresistible. This dish is a common sight hanging in the windows of Cantonese restaurants, beckoning diners with its alluring aroma. Soy Sauce Chicken is not just a meal; it’s an experience—a testament to the elegance and depth of traditional Cantonese cooking.

Soy Sauce Chicken: A Cantonese Classic

Ingredients for Soy Sauce Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken, about 3-4 pounds
  • 1/2 cup of light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 3 green onions, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 4 cups of water or as needed to cover the chicken

Cooking Steps for Soy Sauce Chicken

  • In a pot large enough to fit the whole chicken, combine light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, garlic, ginger, green onions, star anise, cinnamon stick, and fennel seeds.
  • Add water to the pot until the chicken would be fully submerged.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  • Carefully lower the chicken into the pot breast-side up. Add more water if necessary to cover the chicken.
  • Return to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and poach the chicken, covered, for about 30 minutes, turning it halfway through the cooking time.
  • Turn off the heat and let the chicken cool in the broth for an additional 30 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot, and let it drain. The skin should be tight and glossy.
  • Chop the chicken into serving pieces and serve with a side of rice and some of the poaching liquid as a sauce.

In conclusion, Soy Sauce Chicken is a dish that is both comforting and deeply satisfying. The key to its success lies in the quality of the ingredients used. Selecting a fresh, plump chicken ensures that the meat remains juicy and tender. The combination of light and dark soy sauce creates a balance of flavor and color, while aromatics like star anise, cinnamon, and fennel seeds lend their distinct fragrances to the dish. This Cantonese classic is a reminder of the beauty in slow cooking and the rich flavors that can be achieved with time-honored techniques. Whether enjoyed in the bustling streets of Guangdong or the comfort of your own home, Soy Sauce Chicken is a dish that transcends borders, offering a taste of the rich heritage of Cantonese cuisine.

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