Love in a Clay Pot: Sweet Soy-Sauce Chicken

This is one of my favourite go-to recipes when I want something filling and reassuring but am not motivated to do a lot of prep. It’s easy, doesn’t need to be watched, and will infuse your home with an appetising aroma. Traditionally served to new mothers in the first forty days after birth, this can also be a cosy meal with a lover, a nurturing solitary treat, or a pot-luck offering that will make your Malaysian student friends teary with nostalgia.

If you want some love in a clay pot, read on!

You Will Need:

A clay pot or casserole dish, with a lid or some foil to cover.

Three chicken thigh pieces with skin and bone left on. (You can lower the calorific value of this dish by using skin-less chicken breast fillets… but thighs are so much more succulent, and the skin and bones give flavour!)

75g of sugar. I used white because that’s all I have on hand, but raw or brown sugar, or gula malacca (palm sugar) will give a little more flavour.

Salt to taste.

1 tsp of pepper. Ground white pepper is the best as it disappears into the sauce, but you can use cracked black pepper.

75g of kecap manis. This is a very thick, black soy sauce. Don’t substitute this for ordinary soy sauce or the dish will be too salty and the sauce will not thicken and allow the chicken skin to get crispy.

100 mL of hot water.

A piece of old ginger, about the size of two fingers, broken into pieces.

What to do:

Put the sugar, salt, pepper, kecap manis, hot water and ginger into the clay pot and stir it all together. The hot water should make the kecap manis melt and the whole thing should be liquid. Place the chicken pieces in, skin-side up, and marinate for at least half an hour.

Cook for about one and a half hours, covered, at 220 degrees Celcius in a fan-forced oven. The chicken is ready when the sauce has thickened and reduced and the skin is just a little crispy.

Told you it was easy!

Eat with steamed jasmine rice. If you are feeling energetic (which I’m not, right now) you can make this a more complete meal by serving with some stir-fried vegetables. For me, I think I’m just going sit on the couch, enjoy this chicken with rice, and watch TV.

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