To cook a whole chicken is really a challenge. If the chicken thigh is cooked, the other parts might be over-cooked and the meat turns tough. When it comes to cook the whole chicken in soy sauce, it yields experiences and skills to control the heat and cooking time.
I found it’s much easier to get satisfied results with this cast-iron casserole. It heats foods evenly and retains the heat inside for longer time. The cast-iron casserole is extremely good for slow cooking. So I used it to cook the popular Chinese dish, soy sauce chicken. Traditionally, the amount of soy sauce that has to be used is quite a lot. It has to cover the whole chicken. Having done the cooking, it’s a problem of how to recycle the soy sauce as it’s too much. With the cast-iron casserole, the cooking calls for smaller amount of soy sauce that easily consumes, either for going with white rice, or frying noodles. It’s extremely yummy!
- 1.7kg organic chicken (or free range chicken)
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 6 to 8 slices old ginger
- 2 stalks spring onion
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 30g rock sugar
- 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- a small piece dried tangerine peel, optional (homemade or get from Asian stores)
- 3/4 cup water
- Soak tangerine peel to soften and rinse well. Set aside.
- Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the spring onion and ginger into the chicken cavity. Rub wine all over the chicken. Tie chicken legs together with a string (as picture shown).
- In a large casserole, heat up some cooking oil and sauté ginger, garlic and spring onion. Pour light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and water into the casserole. Add tangerine peel. Bring to a boil. Add rock sugar and slower the heat to low. Carefully place chicken into the casserole. Beware that the heat should be as low as enough to keep little bubbles springing up. Don’t use high heat because the chicken would be over-cooked easily and the meat won’t be smooth and tender otherwise.
- First, place chicken’s breast down for 10 minutes, covered. Turn chicken’s back down for another 8 minutes, covered. Turn chicken to left, leg to the bottom, for 13 minutes, covered. Then turn chicken to right, leg to the bottom, for another 13 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, turn chicken’s breast down to the bottom again. Cook over high heat until the sauce boils vigorously again. Cover and turn off the heat. We’re going to use the heat inside the casserole and continue to cook the chicken for another 20 to 25 minutes. Test the chicken if it’s cooked through or not. Insert a needle or chopstick into the thickest part, like chicken thigh, if clear liquid runs out without any blood, it’s done. If it's not cooked, then heat the sauce for a few minutes more. Transfer chicken to a platter and wait until the juice absorbs, about 5 minutes. Discard the ginger and spring onion inside the cavity. Cut into bite-sized chunks. Ladle hot soy sauce over the chicken. Serve hot.
- The cooking time depends on how big the chicken is. The level of heat is also crucial. Practice makes things perfect anyway.
- Every time you turn the chicken, baste with the soy sauce to keep the whole chicken moist and add colour evenly.
- Use half of a chicken or chicken legs if you like. It’s much easier and needs shorter cooking time.