- 1 whole chicken (weighing about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
- 1/2 cup of light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of Chinese rice cooking wine (Shaoxing)
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 piece of star anise
- 1 small piece of cinnamon stick
- 1/2 of a medium size onion, chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 pieces of scallion
- 2 pieces of bay leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 1-2 cups of water
- Start by laying the chicken on a clean surface with the breast facing up.
- Using a long piece of baking twine, tie the ends of legs of the chicken together tightly.
- Make sure you leave a fair amount of twine at the end of the knot.
- Turn the chicken over.
- Bend the wings behind the back and interlock them together so they hold in place and stay there.
- Use the extra twine to tie the wings behind the back if they won’t stay in place.
- Remove the extra baking twine and set the chicken aside.
- Smash 2 pieces of spring onion and the ginger to release the flavor and stuff them into the cavity of the chicken.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, brown sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves.
- Now add the aromatics (garlic and onions) that we prepared earlier to the mixing bowl.
- Stir the mixing bowl thoroughly until the sugar is dissolved.
- Put the chicken and the marinade in a sealable bag.
- Push all the air out of the bag, then carefully seal the bag leaving very little air inside it.
- Place the bag of chicken in the refrigerator to marinate, breast side down, overnight.
- On the next day, pour the chicken and marinade out of the bag and into a large mixing bowl.
- Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cooking oil to a large pan over medium-high heat.
- Once the pan is hot, take the chicken out of the mixing bowl, letting it drip momentarily, then very carefully place it into a hot pan, breast side facing down.
- Let the breast side of the chicken cook until it is browned, which typically takes a minute or two.
- Carefully turn the chicken over and brown the other side.
- Once both sides of the chicken are browned, pour the marinade sauce into the pan along with all the remaining spices.
- Then add 1-2 cups of water to the pan.
- Bring this to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid.
- Let the chicken cook (covered) for about 1 hour, but be sure to turn the chicken over every 15 minutes.
- If the sauce is evaporating too much or it becomes too thick for your taste, you can add a little more water to the pan when you turn it over.
- After the chicken has cooked for at least one hour, the sauce will be thicker and the chicken will have a dark brown color from cooking in the marinade.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside to cool.
- Pour the remaining sauce into a strainer that’s been placed over a metal mixing bowl (since the sauce will still be hot).
- Discard the spices in the strainer.
- Taste the sauce to check for saltiness.
- Add a little water to the sauce to dilute it if it tastes too salty.
- Place the chicken on a serving platter and pour the sauce over the chicken.
- Serve immediately with white rice or side dish of your choice.
Be especially careful when you place the chicken in the hot pan the first time. The oil may splatter. If the pan is really hot, you can try taking the pan off the heat while you put the chicken in the pan then put it back on the heat. Also if your chicken is on the bigger end of the size range mentioned in the ingredients, you will probably need to cook it a little longer, maybe 10-15 minutes more. You will probably need to use the full 2 cups of water for the larger chicken as well. Be sure to turn the chicken as directed while cooking it. This ensures the chicken is evenly cooked throughout.