It’s a stunning spring week in ny City, the windows are wide open, and before I find it impossible to resist the siren song of a full shift to picnic–summer-beach-fresh-everything mode (with some ice cream/pie/cookie breaks, naturally) I wanted to inform you about one last easy weeknight pandemic-era favorite: a soy sauce-basted chicken that my family would be happy if I made once every week forever.
I first made this within the early months, when all the restaurants were closed and that we missed takeout*. I’ve made it almost monthly since then because it’s the fastest, easiest non-grilling way on behalf of me to show a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts into a meal that everybody actually finishes. Browning the chicken well gives it a rather crisp edge, and reducing a mix of garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar around it while the chicken finishes cooking gives it a lacquered effect.
I turn it into dinner by making plain white or rice within the rice cooker**. If we’ve any broccoli, I’ll steam or roast it. then I make a fast salad with a thinly sliced or julienned fresh vegetable, whatever we’ve got that’s crunchy, like cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, asparagus, or during this week’s case, snow peas and sugar snaps. A soak in drinking water really perks up snow peas, sugar snaps, and carrots if yours have also gotten neglected within the produce drawer. Toss with thinly-sliced scallion, salt, pepper, polished rice vinegar and toasted vegetable oil to taste and that’s it, a triumphant weeknight meal that I hope makes it into your rotation too.
*Origin note: Although I started making this during a pandemic pinch with leftover dipping sauce i exploit for dumplings, this sort of chicken may be a distant relative to the Cantonese dish called see yao gai or soy chicken. Usually it’s an entire chicken braised in soy with star anise, bay leaves, and Shaoxing rice wine additionally to the ingredients below, then chopped and served with vegetables and rice or noodles. It’s amazing, and a quintessential Chinatown favorite/staple worth seeking out.
** I’ve had this one for eight years and it had been worth every penny, and not only because it plays twinkle-twinkle when it starts