If you have time on your hands, try making your own soya sauce chicken noodles.
For this recipe, I used four large kampung chicken legs.
The list of ingredients for the ideal version is daunting, but you can make a basic version by omitting the coriander seeds, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, red yeast rice, dang shen, huai shan and chuan xiong.
I used Chinese rose wine and maltose to glaze the chicken skin after cooking – again, an optional step. Use sesame oil instead. To store the braising sauce, first filter it using a muslin cloth to get rid of any residue. Allow it to cool completely before placing it in the freezer.
INGREDIENTS FOR BRAISED CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES
3 star anise
4 black cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 green cardamom pods
5 bay leaves
1½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
1½ Tbs red yeast rice (optional)
17g garlic cloves (with skin), lightly smashed
3 slices of gan cao (licorice root, 6g)
5 red dates (7g)
50g yu zhu (Solomon’s seal)
40g dang shen (codonopsis root)
25g huai shan (Chinese wild yam)
10g dried mandarin orange peel
6g chuan xiong (Chinese lovage root)
3.5 litres of water
40g galangal, smashed
50g old ginger, smashed
5 pandan leaves (22g)
350ml light soya sauce
100ml dark soya sauce
200g lump sugar
35g spring onion
30g fresh coriander
4 chicken legs (969g)
1 Tbs Chinese rose wine
1 Tbs maltose
200g xiao bai cai
INGREDIENTS FOR GRAVY
250ml braising sauce
90ml water (30ml for mixing with cornflour)
1 Tbs cornflour
INGREDIENTS FOR NOODLES
1.5 litres of water
8 bundles of dried egg noodles (360g)
4 tsp sesame oil
You will need a soup bag for the ingredients of the braising sauce.
BRAISING THE CHICKEN
1. Over low heat, dry fry star anise, black cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, green cardamom pods, bay leaves, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns and cloves for three minutes and turn off the heat.
2. Transfer toasted spices into soup bag.
3. Add red yeast rice, garlic cloves, gan cao, red dates, yu zhu, dang shen, huai shan, dried mandarin orange peel and chuan xiong. Tie up the bag.
4. Bring 3.5 litres of water to a boil in a sturdy pot. Add soup bag, galangal, ginger and pandan leaves.
5. Add light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, salt and lump sugar.
6. Add the spring onion and coriander.
7. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for one hour and 30 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, blanch the chicken legs briefly and plunge them into ice water for three minutes.
9. Remove chicken legs from ice water and place into a colander to drip dry. Set aside.
10. Remove the lid of the pot for the braising sauce. Discard the spring onion and coriander. Take out soup bag and set aside.
11. Gently place the chicken legs, one by one, into braising sauce, skin side down. Place soup bag on top of the chicken legs. Allow braising sauce to reach a simmering boil. Cover and turn off heat. Allow chicken legs to cook in residual heat for 55 minutes.
12. Use a shallow sieve to remove chicken legs from the braising pot, to avoid bruising or tearing the chicken skin.
13. Place chicken legs, skin side up, on a plate.
14. Put on plastic gloves. For each chicken leg, dip your fingers in Chinese rose wine and gently smear all over the skin. Gently rub away any braising residue on the skin while doing this.
15. Smear maltose evenly over chicken legs. Set aside.
16. Blanch vegetables in water with a pinch of salt and cooking oil; set aside.
MAKING THE GRAVY
1. Bring 250ml of braising sauce to a simmering boil.
2. Add 60ml of water.
3. Dissolve cornflour in 30ml of water. Slowly stir cornflour mixture into braising sauce.
4. Simmer for 30 seconds. Turn off the heat and keep covered. Set aside.
COOKING THE NOODLES
1. Bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil.
2. Cook two bundles of dried noodles at a time. Place them in a noodle sieve. Boil the noodles for two minutes, using a pair of bamboo chopsticks to loosen the noodles as they are cooking.
3. Shake sieve to remove excess water.
4. For each plate, add 1 tsp of sesame oil.
5. Transfer noodles from sieve to plate and toss noodles briefly. Set aside.
1. Arrange vegetables on top of noodles.
2. Chop each chicken leg into six pieces. Place the chicken on top of noodles.
3. Drizzle 3 Tbs of gravy over noodles.
4. Serve immediately.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.