Warning: This post contains photos of raw meat which could look yuckles to you.
When I was 14 (which was a long time ago ugh my youth) I discovered the wonder that was Shanghainese cuisine which quickly became one of my go-to cuisines when I couldn’t decide what to eat. The style of Chinese food that I had growing up was always Cantonese courtesy of my mom being from Hong Kong so some different dishes were very welcome to my palate. Overtime, I’ve learned to discern the very obvious differences between Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine and while they are totally different from each other, I still really enjoy both of them.
Something that I’ve noticed with Shanghainese cuisine is that there are a lot of cold appetizers. Yum! My favorite one happens to be drunken chicken (醉雞/choi gai) which is basically a cooked chicken steeped in Shaoxing wine. At least I believe that’s the most common way to prepare the dish. For some reason I really enjoy dishes that have some sort of alcohol as an ingredient. I think it really gives them a kick. After years of putting this off, I’ve finally decided to make the dish myself after finding a recipe that was easy enough to follow from The Woks of Life.
How I prepared drunken chicken in a nutshell: After getting most of the ingredients listed (goji berries were out blah), I first deboned my chicken by myself instead of asking the butcher to do it. It’s just one of those processes that I enjoy doing methodically (although I didn’t do it perfectly) and it’s a good practice for patience since I’m pretty slow at it. I then throw the bones along with some ginger to make some chicken broth. I decided to add some garlic and onions into my second batch to make it taste a bit different too.
I then seasoned the inside of my chicken fillets with some salt and rolled them up nice and tight with some foil wrap for steaming. While all this is happening, I start preparing my marinade for the long sleep inside the refrigerator.
After the chicken cooks, it goes into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and makes it easier to peel the foil away from the skin. I find it so fascinating that the chicken will just continue to hold its cylindrical shape from this time onwards. As the chicken has cooled sufficiently, I placed it in my Ziploc container with the marinade (enough to cover the chicken) and wait impatiently for 24 hours. I would also check on my chicken every few hours to taste the marinade and skim the oil that formed. Within 24 hours, the smell of the marinade changed from to a more familiar drunken chicken sauce aroma.
Finally, it was time to retrieve my chicken from hibernation! The chicken’s skin gained a darker brown color from the marinade and I almost forgot to take a photo because I couldn’t wait to cut through it. I cut off the ends to taste and it was above average of what I expected. Slicing through the chicken and plating it was the probably the most gratifying part of the whole process!
I ended up making a second batch for my parents and I to share for dinner and it seemed that they liked it although we all concluded that goji berries are a real necessity to add some sweetness and color. I really enjoyed making this dish and even though it’s a relatively long process, it’s really not that difficult to prepare!