Friday, October 5, 2012

Soy Brasied Chicken

One of my ultimate comfort foods is this little dish here. Actually, it's a variation of this dish, which can be done in a few different ways. I mostly make it with ground pork, but the same main ingredients for the braise. When my mom and aunt visited us in August, Ma made this dish, and Auntie suggested the tiniest addition of star anise that adds an extra depth to the flavor. Even Ma was pleasantly surprised. This particular batch had boneless, skinless chicken thighs, skinless chicken legs, braised tofu, shitake mushrooms, and hard boiled eggs.

Okay, let's make this!

Ingredients (sorry, I have no measurements)
-sesame oil
-ginger, peeled and sliced 
-garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
-mirin or some other form of Asian cooking wine
-chicken legs and thighs
-soy sauce
-rice wine vinegar (scant)
-rock sugar
-star anise, about 2 "legs" of one star
-dried shitake mushrooms
-braised tofu

In a pot, heat your sesame oil and add the ginger and garlic. Gently cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cooking wine, reduce liquid to almost dry. Add the chicken, soy sauce and water (about 1:1 soy to water, maybe a little more water, as needed). Add a splash of the vinegar, about an ounce of rock sugar, and the star anise. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer until chicken is cooked and tender. Adjust the flavor with any extra vinegar, water, sugar, etc., to your liking.

In the meantime, soak the dried mushrooms in boiling hot water and cover.

Cook the eggs: Place the whole eggs into a pot large enough to hold however many eggs you wish to use. Cover with enough cold water and bring to a boil. Once the eggs have come to a boil, turn off the burner and cover the pot with a lid, and set a timer for 9 minutes. This should cook your eggs to about medium. After 9 minutes, submerge the eggs into an ice bath and allow them to cool completely. Once cooled, peel the shells off the eggs, rinse off any excess shells, and set aside.

*A note about these flavored eggs. It's easy to let them over cook, as this is a braise. You know your eggs are over if there's a greenish color around the yolk when you cut into the egg. I never thought much about this as a kid, when Ma would make all her eggs like this. Nowadays, I know better. A greenish yolk just isn't tasty. Sorry, Ma! Even my 5 1/2 year old could tell the difference when he had his grandma's eggs last month. He has a more sophisticated palate than I did at his age.

When your mushrooms have softened, add them, along with its water, to the chicken braise. This is also a good time to add the tofu. Your dish is pretty much done at this point, but I like to let it gently simmer for about 1-2 hours (sometimes even longer). The eggs are the very last thing I add, so as not to let them overcook. You can turn the fire off, add the eggs and just let them mellow in the pot until it's time to serve. I had the time, so I put the eggs in a separate bowl, covered with hot braising liquid, set a plate over the bowl, and added the eggs and liquid back into the pot at service.

Eat this over some rice with a side of veggies!! Yum and comfort.