This coming Thursday expect fireworks, dragon parades and other festivities in celebration of Chinese New Year. Why not join in the fun by cooking up a Chinese feast?
In the last few years the local university has been actively recruiting foreign students and we now have a flourishing Chinese community. With the new arrivals have come a bevy of Asian food shops selling all manner of exciting ingredients (not that you’ll need anything hard-to-get for this recipe) and a fabulous New Year’s festival. My husband and I usually head out to browse the fayre and watch the fireworks before heading home for our very own New Year dinner.
Red is an important colour in Chinese culture, it symbolises good luck and is very prominent around new year. So red-cooked chicken is a lucky kind of dish, perfect for our own celebration. The red colour comes from simmering the chicken in a dark stock flavoured with soy sauce and spices. Admittedly the chicken in the above photo isn’t very red, if I had been patient and left it to sit in the fragrant stock a while longer it would have taken on a darker hue. Better still, let the chicken bubble away in a slow cooker for the day.
The chicken can be served hot or cold, in any manner of ways, it’s excellent shredded over plain steamed rice with some of the hot, savoury stock ladled on top. And that’s where the brilliance lies in this recipe – the stock. After you’ve removed the chicken, strain the stock and let it cool. You can then freeze it to use another day; each time you use it the flavour gets richer and deeper, it just keeps getting better!
For everyone out there celebrating Chinese New Year, 新年快樂!
Adapted from a Terry Durack recipe in The Accidental Foodie
- 4 bone-in chicken legs (you could equally do a whole chicken in the slow cooker)
- 125ml Chinese rice wine or cooking sherry
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 125ml dark soy sauce
- 125ml light soy sauce
- 750ml chicken stock or water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 piece of ginger about 5cm long, peeled and sliced
In a pan large enough to fit the chicken, heat the rice wine and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Skim off any foam, cover and allow to simmer very gently over a low heat, so the bubbles just break the surface of the liquid, for 15-20 mins. Take the pan off the heat and leave to sit for at least half an hour.
Serve however you fancy; warm with rice or noodles, cold with a dipping sauce or salad.