Recipe Red Cooked Chicken

Red Cooked Chicken, also known as "Hong Shao Ji" in Chinese, is a popular dish in Chinese cuisine. This savory and slightly sweet dish is braised to perfection, resulting in tender chicken infused with rich flavors from soy sauce, sugar, and various aromatic spices. Below is a comprehensive guide to making Red Cooked Chicken, including ingredients, preparation instructions, tips, variations, and nutritional information.

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds), cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 slices of ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Garnish

  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sliced green onions

Preparation Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

  1. Clean and cut the chicken: Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken into pieces.
  2. Season the chicken: Lightly season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

Step 2: Cooking

  1. Caramelize the sugar: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until it melts and turns a deep amber color. Be careful not to burn the sugar.
  2. Sear the chicken: Add the chicken pieces to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until they are browned on all sides.
  3. Add aromatics and sauces: Add the ginger, garlic, star anise, scallions, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves to the pot. Stir well to combine.
  4. Deglaze and braise: Pour in the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and fully cooked. Stir occasionally.
  5. Adjust seasoning: Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, or a bit more soy sauce if needed. If using, stir in the oyster sauce.

Step 3: Serving

  1. Garnish and serve: Transfer the chicken and sauce to a serving dish. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and sliced green onions.
  2. Accompaniments: Red Cooked Chicken is traditionally served with steamed white rice or noodles.

Tips

  • Sugar caramelization: Keep a close eye on the sugar when caramelizing to avoid burning it. Once it starts to change color, it can burn very quickly.
  • Browning the chicken: Ensure the chicken pieces are well-browned for extra flavor before adding the liquids.
  • Simmering: Simmer the chicken gently to keep it tender and prevent it from becoming tough.

Variations

  • Vegetable addition: Add vegetables like carrots, mushrooms, or bok choy during the last 15 minutes of cooking for a more wholesome meal.
  • Spicy kick: Add a couple of dried red chilies or a teaspoon of chili paste to the braising liquid for a spicier version.
  • Different protein: Substitute the chicken with pork belly or beef for a different take on the dish.

Nutritional Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 350-400
  • Protein: 30g
  • Fat: 20g
  • Carbohydrates: 10g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 1200mg

(Note: Nutritional values are approximate and may vary depending on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used.)

Conclusion

Red Cooked Chicken is a classic Chinese dish that brings together a harmonious blend of sweet, savory, and aromatic flavors. With its tender chicken and rich sauce, it's a comforting meal that is perfect for any occasion. By following the steps and tips provided, you can easily recreate this delicious dish at home. Feel free to experiment with variations and make it your own. Enjoy your Red Cooked Chicken with a side of steamed rice or noodles for a complete and satisfying meal.

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