This cheap and easy dish consists of tender, melt-in-your mouth chicken wings cooked in soy sauce. The addition of ginger, cinnamon and star anise make this dish smell absolutely heavenly. Best of all it is an economical dish made in one pot with only 15 minutes prep time.
My friend Portia has a good tip for just about all of life’s little problems. One of the best money saving tips she’s given me is to cook with chicken wings since they are one of the cheapest cuts of meat. She was the first of my friends to buy her own home, and one of the first to upgrade her apartment into a house, so I trust her advice! With this in mind, one of the first things I did when we moved into our own place was to work out the best way to cook wings!
Chinese Soy Sauce Chicken
There are so many great recipes out there for wings, but my favourite is Chinese soy sauce chicken. This is a dish that can be made in advance and in bulk. It freezes well and will keep in the fridge for up to three days, and also works great as a work lunch. I always make this with wings, but you can really make it with any cut of chicken, or even a whole chicken (with modified cooking time).
How to Serve Chinese Soy Sauce Chicken
There are a few different ways you can eat this:
- As a standalone dish for dinner with rice and steamed Asian greens, like choy sum or bak choy. This is how we usually eat it if it’s just the two of us.
- As one of several dishes for people to pick and choose from. Other dishes that would pair well are Chinese Eggs & Tomatoes, Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup and Fried Tofu in a Tomato Sauce. This is what we do for larger gatherings if we’re going with an Asian/Chinese-themed meal.
- The wings on their own as finger food, or as a starter.
What To Do With the Leftover Sauce
One minor drawback with this recipe is you can end up with a lot of leftover sauce, but it can be easily re-purposed. I’ve used it as a substitute for the sauce in Chicken and Hokkien Noodle Stir Fry, and you can use it for other stir-fries, fried rice, as a marinade or poured over steamed Asian greens or broccoli. Honestly though, I love this sauce so much I’m happy just eating it soaked through some plain white rice.
Top Tips for Chinese Soy Sauce Chicken
- Buy the highest quality chicken and soy sauce you can afford, as these are the stars of the dish so quality will make a difference.
- Make sure the chicken is clean by washing under cold running water after jointing. As the chicken cooks skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
- Avoid moving the chicken too much while it’s cooking. When you do need to move it, avoid chopsticks or anything else that may accidentally poke through the skin. I use rubber tongs, Scruff prefers a spoon.
- Slice the ginger thinly as this increases the surface area available to flavour the sauce. The ginger is essential for getting the right balance of flavours.
- Our recommended cooking time is 40 minutes, but anywhere between 30-50 minutes will be fine. At 30 minutes the chicken should be cooked through, however the longer you leave it the softer the meat will become. Always check chicken is cooked before serving.
- Use both light (normal) soy sauce and dark soy sauce. Light soy sauce provides bulk, salt and flavour, while dark soy sauce gives colour and a fuller-bodied flavour. You can get away with just using light soy sauce but for best results use both.
So if you’re after a cheap and easy dish with the most amazing aroma, give this recipe a go.
– Scruff & Steph
Cheap and Easy Chinese Soy Sauce Chicken
- 1 tbs canola oil
- 30 gm ginger thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves flattened
- 1 cassia cinnamon stick (Note 1)
- 2 star anise
- 3/4 cup light soy sauce
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp shao xing cooking wine
- 2 cups water
- 70 gm brown sugar
- 1 kg chicken wings washed and jointed
- steamed white rice and choy sum to serve (or any Asian green)
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Fry the ginger, garlic, cinnamon and star anise for about one minute or until fragrant.
- Add the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, cooking wine, water and sugar. Give everything a stir, then add the chicken.
- Bring to the boil, then cook over low heat for 40 mins (Note 2). Skim off any foam that rises to the surface.
- About halfway through cooking flip the chicken pieces at the top of the pot to ensure they are evenly coloured.
- Once cooked, remove the chicken and set aside. Strain the liquid, then check the flavour and adjust if required (Note 3).
- Return the chicken to the pot and serve with steamed white rice and Asian greens.
- Cassia cinnamon sticks are available from Asian supermarkets, and have a different flavour to ceylon cinnamon which is the type usually found in general supermarkets. Cassia cinnamon is what’s used in dishes like pho, ceylon cinnamon is more commonly used for desserts.
- Our recommended cooking time is 40 minutes, but anywhere between 30-50 minutes will be fine. The longer the cooking time the softer the meat.
- If the sauce is too strong then dilute with water. If it’s not strong enough, hard boil to reduce and concentrate the flavour. Add light soy sauce for more salt, and brown sugar for extra sweetness. If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix cornstarch with water then stir through the sauce, boiling until thickened.