Before spotting it on the Humble Bean blog, I have never heard of “shoyu chicken” and would have never guessed it was a Hawaiian dish, since “shoyu” is a Japanese word meaning “soy sauce”. Its presence reflects the influence of the Japanese cuisine in Hawaii, where apparently immigrants from different ethnic groups have left a rich, fusion culinary heritage.
Last week, when I realised Shoyu Chicken was one of the best dishes I have ever had, I started to google for some more information and found myriads of different versions bearing the same name, but only one recurring ingredient, namely the soy sauce. The recipe from Humble Bean is made with very few ingredients (among which tomato is a very surprising one), doesn’t require any particular attention and cooks literally on its own, so the fabulous, original result is even more impressive.
Hardly a couple of days after my first experience with Shoyu Chicken I saw an incredibly similar “nonya” dish on Mr. Three-Cookies blogs (Three Cookies and Easily Good Eats), called Tau Eu Kay. Thanks to Mr. Three-Cookies I have learnt “nonya” combines “Chinese and Malay cooking, as well as influences from other cuisines such as Thai”. This coincidence made me wonder if nonya and Hawaiian, both fusion cuisines, have more similar dishes. I hope to explore both in the future!
Going back to my – slightly modified – recipe, I made it first with the skin on, but even though my chicken is always free-range and runs a lot (I hope), the sauce was too fat for my taste, so my second Shoyu Chicken was made without skin. The result was perfect, the meat wasn’t dry, so this is the way I intend to prepare it the future. There are always some leftovers of the delicious sauce, which I use the following day on rice, fried vegetables or noodles.
This dish has a historical importance. It is the first time in my life I prefer dark chicken meat from breasts (I have tested both and encourage all the chicken breast fans to try both). Another interesting point is that this is the first Asian dish I know which goes better with red wine (a sturdy one is a better choice here).
Preparation: 1 hour – 1h30
Ingredients (serves 2-4 people depending on the size of the legs):
2 chicken thighs (preferably cut in two pieces) with or without skin
100 ml (about 3 fl oz) low-sodium Japanese soy sauce (or 70 ml of “normal” soy sauce)
300 ml (about 10 fl oz) water
60 ml (about 2 fl oz) agave syrup or honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon powdered mustard (Japanese or English)
125 ml (1/2 cup) canned tomatoes (I have put 3 tablespoons tomato paste+125 ml water)
Bring all the sauce ingredients to boil.
Lower the heat, put the chicken into the sauce and let it simmer for at least one hour until the meat falls apart from the bones.
Finish cooking uncovered until the sauce thickens.
Serve with rice.