During the two week Chinese New Year celebrations, food with auspicious meaning are eaten to beckon good tidings for the coming year. Whole chicken is served during Chinese New Year because it signifies rebirth, family togetherness and prosperity. Marbled eggs symbolize gold nuggets. In this dish, both are present to bestow good wishes to everyone partaking.
This is my version of soy sauce chicken which I roasted in the oven instead of simmering gently on the stove-top. The dish starts in the wok where the whole chicken is seared. The aromatics are first stir fried before being boiled in the braising liquid. The whole chicken is roasted with the sauce to absorb its flavour and colour.
The dish is ready when the chicken is burnished and meltingly tender. Soft boiled eggs are marbled in the chicken sauce and served with it. The sauce takes half of the spotlight in this dish. It has all the flavours of the chicken and seasonings and tastes so good ladled on rice or as a dipping sauce for steamed buns.
1 fresh whole chicken, about 1.5 kg. in weight cooking oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1" x 2" piece of ginger, sliced thinly
3 bunches of spring onions, cut into 2" lengths
1 dried chilli, halved
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 c. light soy sauce
1/4 c. dark soy sauce
1/4 c. siao sing wine or sherry
2 tbsps. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
6 soft boiled eggs
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F/ 180° C.
Wash the chicken well and scrub with fine salt to scrub off the thin membrane that coats it. This will help it absorb the colour of the cooking liquid.
Heat up a wok and add the cooking oil. When it starts to smoke, put in the chicken, breast side down. Sear until it changes colour. Turn and sear until all sides are light brown in colour. The chicken needs to be seared but not browned nor crisp.
Take the chicken out and transfer to an oven proof casserole or pot.
Stir fry the garlic, ginger, 2/3 of the spring onions, chilli, star anise and cinnamon stick in the same wok for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add in the soy sauces, siao sing wine and sugar. Bring to a boil. Pour over the chicken and top up with boiling water to reach halfway up its sides. Cover the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil then transfer to the oven.
Roast for half an hour.
Crack the shells of the eggs by tapping gently all over with a teaspoon. This will create cracks that will absorb the sauce and create a marbling effect.
After half an hour of roasting, take the lid off the casserole or pot and turn it over. Put the eggs in the sauce, making sure that they are fully submerged.
Put the pot back in the oven, this time without the lid and roast for a further half an hour.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Strain the sauce over it. Rinse the eggs in cold water, then peel.
Serve the chicken with steamed rice or steamed plain buns.
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