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Shoyu Chicken | www.tasteandtellblog.com

I have to tell you – this month’s Cookbook of the Month is surprising me.  I really wasn’t expecting anything fantastic.  No big, beautiful color photos.  No forwards written by the latest celebrity chefs.  But lots of information.  Lots of it.  In fact, I would say that this book is only half cookbook, and half history and information about the food and culture of Hawaii.  I’m really wishing I had a few extra hours on my hands right now, because I know I could learn a thing or ten from this book!!

But as for the recipes – the book is divided into 4 sections.  I figured that I would make 1 recipe from each section each week.  The first section is “Local Food.”

I didn’t really know anything about Hawaii and it’s food before this.  I’ve never been to Hawaii before (but I will go one day!!), so I didn’t realize how much Chinese and Japanese influence there is in the food.  In fact, this dish that I made felt very Asian to me.  But after some research online, I guess this is a very Hawaiian dish – but the early influences for this dish originated in China.

Recipe Notes:

  • I’m not convinced that I like five-spice powder.  There is only a small amount of it in this dish, but it was pretty strong to me.  I think I would have really loved this dish if it weren’t for that five-spice!
  • If you like soy sauce, you will love this.  It was a bit on the strong side for me, but combined with the green onion garnish and the rice, it was actually quite balanced.  But just to take a bite of the chicken on it’s own was a little bit too overpowering for me.
  • I’m a dork and didn’t read the instructions clearly and didn’t cook any of the green onions in the sauce. Didn’t realize I messed that up until after I was done!
  • My chicken wasn’t done enough for me, even after a full 30 minutes.  I didn’t realize this until it was plated and ready to be eaten, so I just stuck it in a pan and in the oven to cook until it was done.  So I would make sure your chicken is really done before taking it out of it’s cooking liquid.

Overall, this was very delicious.  A little strong for me, like I mentioned above, but then again, I am pregnant, and am easily affected these days by flavors and smells!

Recipe Rating:  4 out of 5

Shoyu Chicken

from The Food of Paradise

serves 4

2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar, preferably turbinado sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 tablespoons dry sherry
3-4 green onions, chopped, plus a couple more cut into rings for garnish
1 tablespoon cornstarch
salt and wine vinegar to taste

Combine chicken, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, five-spice powder, ginger, sherry and green onions in a large pot.  Add water just to cover.  Simmer until the chicken is tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove chicken from pot and arrange neatly on a serving dish, skin side up.  Keep warm while you prepare the sauce.

Reduce the cooking liquid to about 2 cups.  In a small bowl, add 2 tablespoons water to the cornstarch and stir to make a smooth paste.  Add to the cooking liquid.  Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Garnish with rings of green onion.  Serve with rice.


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19 Responses to Cookbook of the Month Recipe – Shoyu Chicken

  1. Jennifurla says:

    Congrats on your pregnanacy! yah! 5 spice is very strong

  2. Holly says:

    Pregnancy totally could be what the deal is:) Congrats! This dish sounds really good:)

  3. Susi says:

    Pregnancy can really throw you with flavors and smells :o)
    This dish sounds wonderful though!

  4. kat says:

    Oh yeah that does sound like a lot of the flavors we've had while eating in Hawaii

  5. Lisa says:

    Shoyu chicken is one of the often-made recipes in my house (yeah, we live in Hawaii). We usually use 1 c. shoyu (the Aloha brand is less overpowering than Kikkkoman), 1 c. sugar, 1/2-1 c. water, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. ginger powder with green onions. It always comes out great. I think I'd like to try it your way though since I like the taste of 5-Spice powder.

  6. Evie says:

    The easy way my mother makes shoyu chicken is to throw one part shoyu, 2 parts water (especially if using kikkoman shoyu), and 1/2-1 part sugar depending on your preference in a pot with chicken and simmer. Garlic powder and ginger are optional to taste. We don't thicken the sauce, just serve everything over rice!

  7. Joanne says:

    I've never really quite known how to categorize Hawaiian food…it is so far out into the pacific that there is definitely a lot of Asian influences. I really enjoy five spice powder and so I think I'd love this!

  8. teresa says:

    that looks so delicious. and congratulations!

  9. Georgia (The Comfort of Cooking) says:

    Congratulations on your pregnancy and thanks for sharing yet another dynamite dinner idea – This looks like a scrumptious dish!

  10. jennaseverythingblog says:

    I think this looks (and sounds) great! I'm so impressed with your picture–beautiful. I do love five spice, but I didn't always–I think it's definitely an acquired taste.

  11. Jean Bugs says:

    I am so going to make this! Bob and I have been to Hawaii twice and absolutely love it…and the food! Can't wait to see the upcoming recipes!

  12. Mrs. L says:

    I'm with you, the verdict is still out on five spice powder but I'm still willing to try other dishes. Since I have a whole jar of it, I'll have to try to make this.

  13. Pam says:

    This sounds good but I think I would go light on the 5 spice also. Congrats on your pregnancy! This very much reminds me of the food in Hawaii!

  14. ARLENE says:

    Yum! I love shoyu chicken. Yours looks great.

  15. scrambledhenfruit says:

    All of these flavors sound wonderful! Love 5 spice powder. 🙂 This sounds yummy!

  16. Kamaile says:

    My mom's shoyu chicken is a little bit different, but this sounds pretty tasty as well. My mom would fry the little drumsticks and wings. Then she would mix soy sauce with brown sugar, ginger, garlic and green onion and reduce that down on the stove. We'd drizzle the sauce over the hot chicken and eat it with rice. mmm mmm good!

  17. Kathy Alt says:

    The reason the chicken seemed not done enough is because, in Hawaii, everybody grills the chicken on the BBQ after boiling the chicken in the shoyu sauce for 30 minutes. The grill makes the chicken skin crispy and the chicken is then completely done. I lived in Hawaii for 6 years and that’s how everybody I knew there did Shoyu Chicken.

  18. Pua says:

    I’m also from Hawai’i but I don’t know anyone that grills the chicken after boiling it. I usually have it boiled much longer than 30 minutes, though. Maybe an hour or more. That way everything is very tender and falls off the bone. And like someone else said, we don’t usually reduce or thicken the sauce–just eat as is out of the pot. This is like comfort food for us. It’s something I can prepare right when I get home from a long day at work, bring to a boil while I’m washing the cutting board, etc, then simmer for a while and go upstairs and take a shower. It’s meant to be really easy and economical. You can omit five spice if you want.

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