Red-Braised Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

Red-braising differs from cooking with a master stock because, by the time the ingredients are tender and cooked through, the stock has turned into a sauce that is served with the dish; it is in fact a true braise. It is also called red cooking, the ‘red’ referring to that deep reddish-brown sheen the soy sauce and yellow rock sugar give the sauce. It’s definitely one of my favourite tastes: deep and mysterious, rich, salty and sweet all at the same time. Taste for balance and a nice richness on the tongue; I’m sure it will soon become one of your favourite dishes.


  • 4 chicken legs, cut into 3 cm ( inch) pieces across the bone
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) shaoxing
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) lengths
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 4 star anise
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 pieces dried tangerine peel, soaked in hot water
  • 1 dried small red chilli
  • 3 tablespoons crushed yellow rock sugar


Mix together the chicken legs, shaoxing, garlic, ginger and spring onions and marinate for 30 minutes. Drain and pat the chicken dry with paper towel, and set the marinade aside.

Heat a wok until smoking. Add the peanut oil and, when hot, add the chicken and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until nicely brown. Add the reserved marinade and continue cooking for a minute, then add the soy sauce, 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) water, the spices, tangerine peel, chilli and the yellow rock sugar. Cover the wok and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Spoon the chicken and all of the aromatics into a bowl. Return the sauce to the heat and boil for about 5 minutes until it thickens, then pour over the chicken to serve.


You can cook duck legs in the same way; just add a bit more water and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Pork belly, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) cubes, can also be cooked like this — it will take about 1½ hours to become tender.