I love Asian food, of all varieties, and almost invariably if we decide to dine out we will opt for something Asian ... Thai, Indian, Japanese. Vietnamese or Malaysian would feature on that list too if such cuisines were available where I live, but sadly that isn't the case.
When I'm at home too, and need to turn out dinner in a hurry, I will often look for a bit of Asian inspiration. I adore the way Asian dishes seem to really wake-up jaded taste buds with their bright, vibrant flavours; I love that most often Asian dishes deliver maximum flavour with minimal time and effort applied; my dishpan hands (actually I don't have dishpan hands because I use a dishwasher, but you get my drift) love the fact that Asian dishes (apart from maybe a pot to boil some rice or noodles) are usually "one-pot wonders"; and my wallet is happy that Asian food is usually very budget-friendly to produce.
This week, at I Heart Cooking Clubs, our theme is "Passport to Asia" - a theme I've been eagerly looking forward to for ages. Our current chef, Donna Hay, has literally dozens of fresh, simple Asian-inspired dishes in every one of her books - the hardest part of this challenge was narrowing it down to just one dish to cook. In the end I thought I would share this Soy Chicken dish from Donna's book "Seasons". It's one of my favourite dishes, and one I've made several times, so it seemed only fair to share it with you.
A whole chicken is firstly poached in a mixture of Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and orange, then transferred to a hot oven to crisp up the skin. This is absolutely delicious served straight out of the oven, with some steamed rice, and a drizzle of the poaching liquid over the top - some steamed broccoli or bok choy would make a great side. My other favourite way to serve this is to simply shred the chicken, and serve on a large platter with some carrot and cucumber juliennes, maybe some crisp iceberg lettuce and avocado, some rice vermicelli noodles, even boiled egg wedges and radishes are good too - alongside serve some rice paper wrappers and a bowl of water and let everyone dig in and make their own fresh spring rolls.
Soy Chicken Recipe
Adapted (very slightly) from recipe by Donna Hay
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
640ml Chinese cooking wine
8 cups water
3/4 cup dark soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick cinnamon
4 star anise
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
5cm (2 inch) piece of ginger, sliced
4 strips pink grapefruit peel (or orange peel)
1.6kg whole organic, free-range chicken
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).
Meanwhile, put the Chinese cooking wine, water, soy sauce and sugar into a large pot. Set the pan over high heat and stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon, star anise, garlic, ginger, citrus peels, and chicken. Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid, place on a rack in a baking dish, and cook in the preheated oven until the skin is golden and crispy - about 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut into pieces and served with steamed rice.
If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the fabulous Asian-inspired dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.
I'll also be sharing this post this week at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace, Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, at Cook your Books hosted by Joyce at Kitchen Flavours, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam.