This is a signature Taiwanese dish, with a strong taste acquired from basil, sesame, soy sauce and wine. When done right, the chicken is aromatic and tasty, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
But I hate checking out recipes and in the end realising that I can’t possibly gather all the ingredients or don’t own some of the equipments. So here’s a list of all the things you’ll need to cook this delicious Taiwanese treat:
Equipment: A stir-fry wok,
A Chinese clay pot
Ingredient: 600g Chicken thighs & drumsticks with skins on;(again would be perfect, but I had thigh fillets without skins, luckily there were some fat bits on the chicken, which I separated from the meat and used as the skins)
4-5 Shallots;(are ideal, but I didn’t have any so I mixed some onion and garlic to try to reassemble the taste)
5 pieces of thinly sliced ginger
1-5 Chili peppers(fresh/dry) really depending the size and how spicy they are;
4-6 stems of fresh basil;
Seasoning for the sauce: Olive oil 2 tbsp;
Sesame oil 3 tbsp;
Soy sauce 5 tbsp;
Chinese rice wine 米酒/Shaoxing wine 绍兴酒 5tbsp；
Rock sugar/crystallised sugar 冰糖 2-3 tbsp;
And one last fair warning before we get started: this recipe is a real treat. It would not be ideal if you were on a diet and trying to regulate the amount of calories in your meals.
1. Separate the fats from the chicken meat, fry them in a wok without any oil on a small-medium-ish heat until you get the lovely yellow chicken oils out.
2.Cut your shallots (or onion and garlic) into as small bits as you possibly can. Fry them in the chicken oil until golden and crispy. Empty the wok and put the mixture aside in a small bowl.
3. Fry the chicken(if you had drumsticks with bones, leave the bones in as well) with skin touching the bottom of the wok on a medium-high heat. Check and make sure you have a nice golden colour on both sides of the meat, which takes just under 5 minutes each side.(turn only once to keep the meat moist)
Take the meat out and cut them into bite sizes. (your chicken is still pink in the middle now, and that’s how it’s supposed to be)
4. Get your ginger slices ready. Decide how spicy you want the dish to be and prepare your fresh/dry chili peppers accordingly.(I used both fresh & dry peppers since I wanted mine to have a real kick)
Add some olive oil to the wok, fry the ginger and dry pepper(if you were using any) you smell their aroma. Add rock/crystallised sugar, watch it melt in the oil and as soon as it does, add the chicken pieces and stir. This is where the brown colour of this dish comes from–the sugar, not the soy sauce as many people would think.
Add fresh pepper, and season with 2 tbsp of wine and 4 tbsp soy sauce, stir, then cover with lid.
5. Heat up the clay pot on a small-medium heat. When it’s hot, throw in the fresh basil.
Pour the all the chicken from the wok into the pot, then add sesame oil, and stir. Put in the fried shallots(or onions and garlic if you do it the way that I did) and cover with lid.
Here’s the fun part. With the lid on, slowly pour about 3 tbsp of (rice/Shaoxing)wine all the way around the pot, and let it stew for 5-10 minutes. When you see the sauce reduce to a sticky texture, switch of the heat. Have a taste, season with more soy sauce if needed, then cover again. (Clay is a lovely material as it locks the heat in. With the cover on, the dish will keep cooking itself after the heat is switched off)
Now, drumroll…. and TADA!