If you ask me what I have been eating most often for the last three years, Shoyu Chicken would certainly be among the top ten. The frequency with which I prepare it is not only due to its irresistible taste and texture, but also – and maybe most of all – to its extremely low difficulty. Actually, I cannot recall any other equally effortless warm dish. Even though, after dozens of times, the original recipe is still my favourite in my house, I have obviously twisted it more than once. This gochujang (Korean chilli paste) version has also become a staple and is always welcome whenever the chilli addict in me requires an urgent dose of spicy food.
This recipe is based on the original Shoyu Chicken, a Hawaiian recipe found on a wonderful, inspiring blog Humble Bean, which is unfortunately no longer continued. “Shoyu” means “soy sauce “in Japanese and even though this dish comes from Hawaii it does have a Japanese influence of course. Since the first time I prepared it I have cut down on the soy sauce amounts (and always use the low-sodium version), but otherwise I still prepare it the same way and never get tired of it.
If you cannot find gochujang or don’t feel like having a spicy meal, try this mild version:
TIPS: If you like soft chicken skin, leave the skin on, but for me the result was much too fatty, so I did it only once and have always skinned the legs since then (it’s really very easy and takes maximum five minutes for two legs).
Try to use chicken pieces with bones, which add lots of flavour.
I strongly advise using low-sodium soy sauce. You will have less salt in the final dish, but more of the wonderful soy sauce taste.
Do not skip the vinegar. The dish will not be sour, but the vinegar adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi you will like. (You can use any vinegar you have, unless it’s something like raspberry vinegar, etc. of course).
It’s obviously delicious served with kimchi.
Preparation: about 1 hour – 1h30
Ingredients (serves 2 – 4 people depending on the size of the legs):
2 chicken legs (cut into 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 (or any other vinegar)
2 heaped tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
2 big garlic cloves chopped or sliced
toasted sesame seeds
(1-2 tablespoons sesame oil)
Bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil (apart from the sesame seeds and oil).
Lower the heat, put the chicken into the sauce, cover (add more water if needed) and let it simmer for at least one hour until the meat falls apart from the bones.
Finish cooking it uncovered until the sauce thickens.
Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and with sesame oil.
Serve with rice (and kimchi, if you have it).