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Dinner Tonight: Soy Poached Chicken

I'm currently between apartments, crashing at friend's place for a week until I can safely move in to a new place. This means all my spices and gadgets are boxed up and hanging out in a storage unit far away from me. All I have are my condiments, which I knew would go bad if I left them out of the fridge for a week. That's really the only reason I settled on this recipe for soy-poached chicken from the New York Times. I knew I had a huge bottle of mushroom-flavored soy sauce, and I could easily pick up everything else at the Trader Joe's by my current residence.

Luckily, the recipe is from Mark Bittman, whose recipes are always flavorful. Much like other braised chicken dishes I've tried, this one is littered with ginger. To that, Bittman adds the aforementioned mushroom soy sauce (regular soy sauce can probably be substituted, but I have no proof of this), mei kuei lu chiew (which you can substitute an off-dry Gewurztraminer for), sugar, and water. The chicken cooks at a boil for 10 minutes breast side down, and then it is flipped, the heat is killed, and the bird bathes in the broth for 15 minutes to hopefully finish cooking.

Except mine didn't get done. When I cut into the legs I noticed they were nearly raw. I blame this on the fact that my bird was a four-pounder and not the skinny 2 1/2 pounds that was recommended. It's not a huge deal; I just brought the liquid back to a boil and cooked the bird for an extra five minutes. The chicken comes out perfumed with ginger, star anise, and that mushroom soy sauce, but the skin does look a little pale. This is solved by tossing it in a very hot oven for five minutes to crisp the skin up. The chicken is utterly delicious, but it's the sauce that I loved the most. When I finished my plate I ate the sauce from the bowl with a spoon.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is a freelance writer in Chicago and the co-founder of The Paupered Chef.

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