Soya Sauce Chicken with Rose Essence Wine (玫瑰露豉油鸡)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Shucks, I just realized something.

I should have garnished the chicken with rose petals instead of spring onions since it was made with rose essence wine, 玫瑰露酒.

Well, it's too late now 'cause the chicken is all eaten up.  

Dang! Should have thought of it earlier . . . 

OK, please put your imagination cap on and imagine succulent soya sauce chicken with rose essence wine on a bed of rose petals . . . pink, of course!

Authentic Cantonese 豉油鸡 must have 玫瑰露酒. Otherwise, it just doesn't have the floral fragrance that comes from the roses in the wine.

玫瑰露酒 should be used in moderation because it's not some wimpish wine despite its name. It's a spirit – a rose spirit with sugar added – and it's got a whopping 55% alcohol. This is serious, potent stuff that deserves respect and restraint, as I found out the first time I made soya sauce chicken.

"Did you use the right wine?"

"Doesn't taste right."

"Maybe you used too much?"

"You should add oyster sauce."

"You didn't add enough sugar."

"I did. I added a lot."

"Blah blah blah blah blah . . . ."

There were a lot of suggestions around the table.  The critics finished the chicken though, so it couldn't have been that bad!

Second time round, I proceeded cautiously and added the rose essence wine a little at a time. (Don't call on a powerful spirit without controlling it!) The balance was right judging from the lack of advice from the critics. Next time, I'll serve them soya sauce chicken on a bed of rose petals lightly dressed with the chicken marinade.

(Recipe for 4 persons)
3 tbsp + 2 tbsp sugar
1½ cups water
4 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp salt
1½ tbsp dark soya suace
2 tbsp rose essence wine (玫瑰露酒)
1 sprig spring onion (20 g), washed, cut 5 cm (2 inches) long and crushed
4 cloves garlic, washed and crushed, skin on
5 slices ginger (20 g), crushed

2 chicken legs (500 g), blanched in boiling water and rinsed
1 tsp white sesame oil
1 tsp thinly sliced spring onions or Chinese parsley

To see how much marinade you need, place chicken in the pot you're using, then measure the amount of water needed to just cover it. You can do this when you're blanching the chicken. If you need more than 1½ cups, just scale up the recipe.

In a pot just big enough for 2 chicken legs, heat 3 tbsp sugar, swirling from time to time. Start with high heat, reducing to low as colour darkens. When melted sugar looks like dark honey, add ¼ cup water. If caramel solidifies, heat till melted again. Turn off heat. Add remaining water and all other ingredients for marinade. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add chicken, weighed down with a small plate. Marinade for 5 hours, placed in the fridge when cool*.

Bring marinade and chicken to a gentle boil. Cover and turn off heat. Steep for 25 minutes*. Check if juices run clear. If not, cover and wait another 5 minutes. Remove and brush thoroughly with white sesame oil. Chop into bite size pieces. Drizzle with marinade. Garnish with spring onions or Chinese parsley. Dig in!

* I actually leave my chicken outside the fridge, then in the boiled marinade for only 10 minutes. This is sufficient when the chicken legs are brined and not chilled. And they're long and slim (from 'kampong' chicken) rather than fat and squat. And your pot retains heat well. And you like the bones still pink. The short steeping time prevents the chicken skin from turning mushy (chicken skin connoisseurs would know what I mean).

It is, technically, risky keeping meat outside the fridge for 5 hours (bacteria and all that). But I'm still alive, and I air-dry chicken (for roasting) all the time for 4-5 hours although that's done with a fan.


Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

have said it b4 and will say it again, chicken thighs skin not broken at the joint is sign of careful + good chef. my mom needs lessons from yiew. T_T

KT said...

Methinks your mom has been secretly nibbling at the chickens she cooks. Wouldn't you, when no one is looking? That's why her chickens' skin is broken. And why she keeps you out of the kitchen!

On a more serious note, some chicken skin is more resilient than others. Better tasting chicken usually have firmer meat and skin. Tasteless ones tend to have mushy skin which tears easily.

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...


about the chicken, i do agree with your thought. i love the chicken from m'sia, esp cameron highlands. the chicken are springy + yellow skin + stronger aroma of chicken......just got oomph lah! LOL

but sometimes, i do tink it's skills to food presentation.

Li Ping said...

Thanks for your recipe. I just tried it out and my daughter, gourmet of the family, gave it FIVE stars! Question: why do you blanch the chicken legs first?

KT said...

Hi Li Ping

Because the sugar and salt in the marinade/sauce harden cooked (but not raw) chicken skin, giving it more bite. Likewise with the meat when it's cooked but most people like it soft and silky. Hence, the leg is blanched so that the skin is cooked but the meat isn't so that you have the best of both worlds: chewy skin and tender meat.


Ju said...

Hi KT,
Just discovered your blog and looking at all the yummy recipes you have! So many I want to try!
Anyway, how would you suggest modifying this recipe for a whole chicken? Should everything be proportionate to amount of water to cover the chicken?

kt said...

Thanks, Ju.

"Should everything be proportionate to amount of water to cover the chicken?" Yes. Suggest you butterfly the bird. It'll absorb the seasoning faster, and also cook more evenly, in less water.

Judy Tung said...

Hmmm.... looks so good. Will definitely try it, once I get a hold of the rose essence wine. Thanks again KT, you are awesome.

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