October 16, 2021


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This hongshao chicken stew recipe invites variation

When I was escalating up, my mother’s hongshao rooster stew was a hallowed establishment for me. But these days, in its place of deferring to The Way It Was, I like to take inspiration from the resourceful spirit of the dish — how you can maximize the output of a single pot of scrumptious rooster by introducing lots of elements to cook dinner with it. And it is reworked the dish even further and additional from my early reminiscences of it.

Perhaps that is mainly because hongshao, a Chinese braising procedure that translates to crimson-cooking or pink-braising, invites variation. You can simmer any cut of pork, beef or poultry hongshao-type, as very well as tofu and veggies, infusing them with soy sauce and five-spice. The unifying attribute to hongshao stews is more about the end result than the procedure: Everything in the pot acquires a deep, mahogany sheen and resounding savoriness.

My mom started by browning hen parts in a huge pot with thick slices of ginger, full garlic cloves and big midsections of scallions. This wildly aromatic sizzle was then snuffed out with a number of glugs of rice wine and both light and dark soy sauces — the latter mostly accountable for that reddish-brown stain — all cabinet staples in my mother’s kitchen area.

Five-spice — generally in the kind of a satchel made up of the full spices: star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon, fennel seeds and clove — was included. Dried shiitakes have been tossed in like umami bathtub bombs. Then, a rotating assortment of hongshao increase-ins that typically bundled really hard-boiled, peeled eggs and firm tofu cubes, and it’s possible tofu pores and skin and kelp knots.

In the conclusion, the cafe au lait-colored eggs, tofu and other morsels that absorbed the flavor (and color) of the stew could be relished with the food, or fished out as a delightful byproduct to get pleasure from independently. Apart from the hen and shiitakes, those soy sauce-stewed eggs are the only solid addition that’s essential to me. Getting a batch of them on hand can even encourage the total endeavor.

Nevertheless we always known as it hongshao at property, this tendency for braising extras is akin to lu wei braising, a method preferred with avenue distributors in Taiwan who submerge the customer’s alternative of elements in their aromatic broth it’s reported that their braising liquid is never ever discarded and so only gets greater the extra it is employed, like a satisfied sourdough starter.

Probably my model these days is also influenced by relatives scorching pot meals, in which chunks of napa cabbage and taro root ended up left to simmer in the bubbling pot although other delicacies had been immediately dipped. Because I usually have suppliers of cabbage and root vegetables this sort of as daikon and rutabaga from my CSA share in the winter, I’ll add these to my hongshao chicken, allowing them practically melt in the very same vogue. I’m guaranteed pink-braised potatoes and carrots would be delicious as well.

The hen ought to be slipping off the bone and come to be fairly tan as well. The silken texture of a stewed wing is a highlight for me — however it does not have to have to be yours. I acquired not long ago that my mom only applied hen so frequently for the reason that it was a more accessible protein in standard American grocery outlets than pork belly, a well-known possibility for hongshao in her native Taiwan. And relatively than likely out of her way to an Asian grocery, where by a butcher could hack up a entire bird for stewing, she settled for selecting out the smallest drumsticks and wings from the close by grocery — and probably grew to favor cooking with them.

A large amount of house cooking may adhere to a identical system: Prepare dinner an available protein in a pot along with seasonally readily available components, liquids and spices that include taste until finally it all melds into one particular deeply enjoyable food to slurp up with a starch. It might not normally glimpse Instagram-deserving. A crucial thrill right here may possibly be just olfactory. If our noses could be our eyes, I consider they would guideline us towards “liking” these types of dishes by the thousands and thousands.

Even though a longtime favorite, it has taken me a when to create this dish in recipe format mainly because it appeared antithetical to its versatile virtues.

While it is significant to protect our culinary inheritance, I discover myself seeking to the purpose of a dish over the ultimate merchandise additional and more. My kitchen in Brooklyn has a different established of staples and seasonal components than my mother’s did in New Jersey, her parents’ just before that in Taiwan, their parents’ in Hunan province, and so on. And so will yours. Locating the quintessence of a dish meant for everyday ease and comfort does not have to entail a comprehensive excavation.

So if you want a stew generous ample to encompass your beloved substances — reworking them into a soothing, if monochrome, medley — this one’s for you. Sure, you can insert that to it, also.

Hongshao Rooster Stew With Shiitakes and Winter season Vegetables

Notes: If you don’t have the star anise, cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, cloves or Sichuan peppercorns, or just desire not to have substantial parts of aromatics in your stew, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of five-spice powder instead.

If you just cannot uncover dim soy sauce, raise the frequent soy sauce measurement to 3/4 cup whole.

Be confident to use dried shiitakes in this recipe, as fresh new kinds are not a superior substitute, and cut the veggies in massive chunks so that they never drop apart as they soften.

Exactly where to invest in: Shaoxing wine, dark and mild soy sauces, dried shiitake mushrooms, whole anise and Sichuan peppercorns (also recognized as prickly ash berries) can be uncovered in Asian markets or on the internet.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.


  • 1 1/2 lbs . hen drumsticks
  • 1 1/2 kilos chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • Just one (2-inch) piece refreshing ginger (about 1 ounce), peeled and sliced into 8 discs
  • 4 cloves garlic, slightly smashed with the facet of a knife
  • 4 scallions, white and mild inexperienced elements minimize into 2-inch extensive pieces, and dark inexperienced tops chopped and reserved for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine (could substitute with crystal clear Chinese cooking wine or dry sake)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (also recognized as gentle soy sauce, see NOTES)
  • 1/4 cup dim soy sauce (see NOTES)
  • 12 dried shiitake mushrooms (see NOTES)
  • 4 complete star anise (see headnote)
  • 1 compact cinnamon adhere (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon full Sichuan peppercorns (see headnote)
  • 4 massive eggs, difficult-boiled and peeled
  • 1 pound daikon radish, turnip and/or rutabaga, peeled and lower to 3-inch-lengthy wedges
  • 1 pound eco-friendly or napa cabbage, reduce into 4-inch-very long chunks
  • A person (14-ounce) block organization tofu, lower into 2-inch cubes
  • Steamed white rice, for serving

Action 1

Pat the rooster dry with paper towels.

In a big Dutch oven in excess of medium-high warmth, heat the sesame oil until shimmering. Include the ginger, garlic and gentle-colored scallion items and prepare dinner, stirring, until finally quite aromatic, about 10 seconds. Employing a slotted spoon, transfer the aromatics to a modest dish.

Action 2

Doing the job in batches if required, location the chicken parts in a solitary layer in the oil, making sure that just about every piece is in speak to with the pan. Cut down the heat to medium and cook dinner the chicken, with out moving it, until eventually flippantly browned, about 2 minutes. Very carefully flip the chicken pieces to frivolously brown on the other facet, another 2 to 3 minutes.

Stage 3

Incorporate the Shaoxing wine and provide to a boil. Return the aromatics to the pan, then insert the water, light and darkish soy sauces, shiitakes, star anise, cinnamon, cloves (if using), fennel seeds (if working with) and Sichuan peppercorns and return to a boil. Incorporate the eggs, radish (or turnip or rutabaga), cabbage and tofu and return to a boil. Cut down the warmth so that the liquid is at a mild simmer, go over and prepare dinner till the hen is falling off the bone, the vegetables are pretty delicate and the eggs are the colour of chocolate milk, about 1 hour.

Serve warm, around rice and with lots of broth and garnished with the reserved chopped scallions.

Nutrition Information and facts

Components are much too variable for a significant dietary assessment.

Adapted from a recipe from food stuff author Cathy Erway.