This is a very typical example of the sweet soy style of Shanghai cuisine. Meat or fish cooked this way is very juicy, with the meat coming easily off the bone. The rich sauce can be used again the next time you prepare soy sauce chicken or other red-cooked dishes; just add more soy sauce and/or spices as needed. Over time, the sauce becomes even richer, with a fuller flavour.


•    3 to 3 1/2 pound chicken
•    Sauce:
•    1 cup light soy sauce
•    1 cup dark soy sauce
•    1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
•    1/2 cup brown sugar or 1/3 cup Chinese rock sugar
•    1 teaspoon fennel seeds
•    3 whole star anise
•    1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn, *roasted
•    1 thick slice fresh ginger, smashed
•    1 cinnamon stick
•    4 cups water


1. Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

2. In a pot large enough to hold the chicken combine the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, sugar, fennel seeds, star anise, roasted Szechuan peppercorn, ginger, cinnamon stick and the water. Bring to a boil.

3. Add the chicken, breast side down. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook the chicken for 45 minutes, turning over once or twice and making sure it cooks for an even amount of time on both sides. Baste the chicken for a minute or more each time you turn it over.

4. After 45 minutes, turn off the heat and the let chicken sit, covered, until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit (about 77 degrees Celsius).

5. Remove the chicken from the pot, cool and cut into bite-sized pieces.

6. If you like, reheat up to 1 cup of the sauce to serve over the chicken. Reserve the sauce to use again: bring to a boil, cool, and store in a plastic container in the freezer.

Roasting Szechuan peppercorns:
Place the amount of peepercorns in a pan over medium heat. Shake the pan occassionaly. The peppercorns will chnage to a darker colour and become fragrant. Cool and grind in a mortar with pestle. Store in a sealed container. Alternatively the roasted peppercorns can be stored whole and ground just prior to use.