Soy Sauce Chicken Makes 4-6 servings
1 4-pound chicken 2 teaspoons salt 1½ cups soy sauce ? cup dark soy sauce ? cup rice wine 6 ounces rock sugar, about ¾ cup ½ cup packed light brown sugar 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns 4 star anise One 6-inch piece cinnamon, broken in half 5 pieces dried ginger 4 pieces Chinese licorice
Prepare the chicken: Remove any fat pockets and rub chicken all over with salt. Rinse under cold water, place on a rack and pat dry with paper towels. Air-dry 1 hour.
Make the sauce: In a flat-bottomed wok or skillet, combine both soy sauces, rice wine, rock sugar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
Cook the seasonings: In a dry pan, cook the Sichuan peppercorns 3-5 minutes over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant. Place the toasted peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, dried ginger and licorice in a 6-inch-square piece of all-cotton cheesecloth and tie securely with kitchen string (or use a large tea infuser). Add the spices to the sauce in the wok and cook, stirring over medium heat until rock sugar has completely dissolved, 10 to 15 minutes.
Cook the chicken: Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, breast side down, and return the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook 40 to 45 minutes. As the chicken cooks, keep the sauce at a gentle simmer. Carefully turn the chicken 2 to 3 times, being careful not to pierce the skin, and baste it so that the color is even.
Let chicken rest: Turn off heat and allow chicken to sit, covered, 20 to 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees when inserted at the meatiest point of the thigh but not touching the bone. Then, using 2 heavy spoons, carefully transfer the hot chicken to a cutting board. Let stand, cooling, 10 to 15 minutes.
Presentation: Reserve any chicken juices from the cutting board and combine with about ½ cup sauce from the wok and ¼ cup water. Skim and serve with the chicken, which can be warm or at room temperature.
Source: Adapted recipe from "The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen" by Grace Young, (Simon & Schuster, 1999)