Chicken Stew in Soya Sauce and Sesame Oil

A Chinese chicken stew in soya sauce is one of those things I grew up with, also one of the very few dishes I managed to learn from my late grandmother. This is a one-pot slow-cook dish, which may take up to 4-5 hours if required. This means that I could leave it to stew whilst I step away from the fire and probably get my hands on some other chores.


After hours of slow-cooking, the seasoning used will be richly absorbed by the meat, and the meat will also be juicy and tender.This can be cooked with a whole chicken (chopped up in small pieces) or just the drumsticks and thighs; but not breast meat on its own otherwise it will be rather tough and less tasty.

The ingredients:

6 Chicken drumsticks or 3 thighs (cut at joints)
4 carrots, cut into chunks
2 large red onions, cut into chunks
2 cups chicken stock (optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoons light soya sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon plain flour
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
A handful of fresh chives, chopped

But really, the amount is dependent on what I can get hold of, or how I feel at the time of cooking. There is some flexibility as long as it doesn't taste too salty or too sweet.

The cooking:
  1. Mix dark and light soya sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and 1 tablespoon plain flour together and marinate the chicken with the mixture for at least 2 hours.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok on high, brown the chicken for about 2-3 minutes. Add in the onion and carrot chunks and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, and transfer into a pot or claypot. Add in the chicken stock and 6 cups of water (or covering up to 1.5 of the content in the pot).
  4. Covered, bring it to a boil on medium heat, then simmer on the lowest heat you can have, for about 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the boiling level at all times, and make sure that the cover has a breathing hole so that it does not spill over.
  5. Mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of plain flour with a little water until pasty, and add it into the cooking to thicken the gravy. Cook for another 20 minutes or till the gravy is reduced to just enough to cover the content.
  6. Add in sea salt, pepper and chives. Serve with hot boiled rice or boiled potatoes.
A claypot is ideal, but failing that, a slowcooker or a normal pot with cover would just do the job.

For a slightly low fat option, you can throw away the skin. But do not use breast meat thinking that it is a healthier choice. The taste and texture will be disappointing unless you really love tough and tasteless meat.

To have thicker gravy, just add in a little more flour or breadcrumbs. 

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