In Hong Kong, clay pot meals—called wu wei—arrive steaming with succulent marinated meat and savory rice in shops offering up to 60 combinations of toppings. Minced beef with egg. Chinese sausage with bits of salt-cured fish. Pulled chicken thighs with abalone. One constant—the flavor profile. The meat generally is marinated in a savory blend of soy sauce, sweet rice wine and oyster or fish sauce, as the recipe is here.
From Milk Street, this dish (now a favorite) packs tons of umami into the dish, while ginger adds a balancing piquancy. Although it seems a sacrilege, don’t forget to remove the chicken skins after searing. The skins are left on for browning to develop drippings that add depth to the finished dish and to render flavorful fat that’s used for sautéing the mushrooms and aromatics. But the skins will turn soggy when cooked in liquid, so remove them before nestling the thighs into the pot for braising.
However, don’t necessarily discard the skin. If there’s a crispy skin lover in the family, (which typically I’m not), they will adore the treat. I tried one and was astounded by the taste and the crackle, so The Hubs proceeded to scarf the remainder as a pre-dinner nosh.
Some of you may be put off by large slices of ginger, quite the contrary for us, but if you rank among the latter group, either toss it after the cooking is done, or chop it finely at the get-go, but don’t disregard altogether.
As a garnish, a sprinkle of sliced scallions add a freshness, while toasted sesame seeds lend a subtle nuttiness. I’m so glad we had leftovers for lunch the next day. YUM!
Shiitake-Sesame Braised Chicken
- 2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 12 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 6 Tbsp. oyster sauce
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 Inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- Thinly sliced scallions, to serve
- Sesame seeds, toasted, to serve
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken skin down, reduce to medium and cook without disturbing until the skin is well browned, about 10 minutes.
- Flip and cook until lightly browned on the second sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large plate, then pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken thighs.
- Return the pot to medium and add the mushrooms and onion. Cover and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown and the onion has softened, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in the broth and 1 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the oyster sauce, soy sauce and ginger, then bring to a simmer.
- Return the chicken and accumulated juices to the pot, cover and cook over medium until a skewer inserted into the largest thigh meets no resistance, about 40 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.
- Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.
- In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons water and the cornstarch, then whisk the mixture into the cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper, then spoon the mushrooms and sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.