After our venture to Seoul on Saturday, we wandered past a new, funky Asian Grocer on the edge of Melbourne CBD. It was a breath of fresh air. Its timber and glass front is open and welcoming, the opposite of the oppressive, high packed busy shelves of most our local grocers.
Steve was so excited by all the Japanese sweets that hit him in the face as we crossed the threshold that he found himself completely lost – we both agreed we could have just walked in here off a busy Tokyo street. Quickly he picked a bag of individually wrapped (classic Japan!) milo chocolates off the shelf then continued to peruse his other options.
I’m not sure if we were biased by the bright and glossy isles but it felt like a haven of Asian food opportunity. For lazy days there were pre-mix Asian cakes and for lazier days the whole front section was sweets. I was particularly delighted by the Chinese herb soup mixes in the back corner which I will definitely be putting to the test over the coming weeks. I get frustrated when you want to try foreign dishes but there are 10 different spices you need that you wouldn’t normally stock or use. At up to $2 (if not more) per spice, it becomes an expensive home cooked dinner.
Steve does like his sweets but no one can ever say he doesn’t look after me. While I was on the hunt for the cooking sake we went into the store to find, he appeared with a bag of frozen steam-them-yourself red bean buns! YUMMO! Unfortunately, our spend worked out to $15, less than the $20 minimum so we found some thin sliced marbled lamb in the freezer section. I cannot wait to come up with a Japanese inspired something next week.
Today though was Japanese “Slow Cooked Chicken” day. I do rave regularly about the Slow Cooked Pork Belly recipe by JustOneCookbook but at 500ish calories for each 100g of pork, it is not something I can eat regularly. I don’t know if I have made a dish which would be culturally frowned upon by Japanese people but it was good fun and will feed Steve and I for a few days at a much lower calorie count. I started the chicken at about 9am and the first meal we made from it (after a couple of hours of simmering away) was a tasty sandwich for lunch. It has been months since I’ve had a basic sandwich and this really hit the spot. Fresh, bright and with a touch of Japanese flavour!
For dinner it was an Australian, meat and three veg but of course, with the Japanese chicken. Because the chicken is being reheated it is a bit tough but we didn’t mind it – the texture worked with the sauce. Steve described it as “awesome tasting jerky” although it wasn’t nearly that tough. When boiled down like this the sauce is very potent so don’t go into this dish expecting to serve a half a plate of chicken. It would be completely over the top. Also, make sure to serve it with a mash or rice to balance the meal and soften the blow.
Japanese Slow Cooked Chicken
- 1 Whole Chicken
- Thumb-size ginger
- 1 Tokyo negi (Japanese long green onion)
- 7 1/2 cup dashi stock
- 3/4 cup sake
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp mirin
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 slices ginger
A few notes before you begin: We couldn’t get the green onion so substituted with some Spring Onion that needed to be used. I simmered the chicken in water first which is consistent with the pork recipe but would consider skipping straight to boiling in the sauce mixture as chicken is generally quite tender anyway.
- Tie chicken legs together and tuck in under the bum. Put the chopped green onion and 3/4 the ginger into a pot with the chicken and cover with water
- Bring to a boil then simmer for 40 minutes. If the chicken floats so is not fully submerged, turn over after 20 minutes. Make sure it is simmering and not boiling so it doesn’t come out tough.
- Drain the water, onion and ginger from the pot and discard
- Put into the pot the dash, sake and miring. Bring to the boil then add the sugar, soy sauce and remaining ginger. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes then turn the chicken. Cook for another 45 minutes
Depending on how you want to serve the chicken will impact the next steps.
You may take the chicken at this point and remove all but 1 – 2 cups of the sauce. You will then need to simmer the sauce down so that it thickens. As this can take some time, you may wish to do this when the chicken has 20 minutes to half an hour remaining.
For our sandwich, to hasten the process we put some of the liquid in a saucepan with a little cornflour and water paste to thicken.
For dinner we cooked down some sauce (2 cups ish) for around 20 minutes then added some shredded chicken. We then let it cook down for another 20 minutes to half an hour when the sauce was nicely thickened without any cornflour. It is much more flavoursome this way then using cornflour. I highly recommend putting in the extra time.
Don’t worry if you are making multiple meals like we are – because so much sauce is required to cover the chicken, there is plenty left over. After sandwiches and dinner, we still have a bottle and jar left of the cooking liquid!
Need a quick version as you don’t have three hours up your sleeve? Although I haven’t tried it, I’d consider making 1/4 of the amount of sauce in the recipe above. Cook down until thick and poor over some pan fried or oven roasted chicken. I’ve no idea if it would be as good but I’m sure on a low-effort-cooking day I will give it a go and let you know the result!!