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January 20, 2009

Ming Tsai’s Guide to a Chinese New Year Party

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Ming Tsai Chinese New Year

Ming Tsai's Chinese New Year

Photo Credit: Great Gatherings

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Whole Red Roast Chicken with Bok Choy
“To me, the smell of red roast — star anise, rock candy, soy sauce, and wine simmering on the stove — is the smell of home. It’s comfort food, it’s friends, it’s family, it’s Mom’s cooking,” Ming says. He notes that the braising liquid and method in this recipe also work beautifully with pork shoulder and duck. Like the fish, Ming’s Chinese New Year chicken is served whole, for both symbolic and flavor reasons. It’s easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time, so all you have to do at the last minute is cook the bok choy.

Serves 6

1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
2 cups Shaoxing wine or 1 cup dry sherry
1 cup naturally brewed dark soy sauce
3 cups naturally brewed soy sauce
4 cups water
1 whole chicken, 4 to 6 pounds
2 pounds rock candy or dark brown sugar
5-inch piece fresh ginger, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 head garlic, unpeeled and halved crosswise
2 bunches scallions, white part cut into 3-inch lengths and tender green part sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 star anise
4 Thai bird chilis
2 cinnamon sticks
6 heads baby bok choy, halved and tough core removed

1. In a nonreactive stockpot, combine both wines, both soy sauces, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add chicken. If liquid doesn’t cover chicken, add water as needed to cover. Return liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, skimming any scum that forms on surface, about 30 minutes.

2. Add rock candy, ginger, garlic, white part of scallions, star anise, chilis, and cinnamon and stir to dissolve sugar. Continue to simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until chicken is very tender and beginning to fall off bone. Using 2 slotted spoons, gently lift chicken out of pot, place on a serving platter, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

3. Strain cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve held over a large saucepan and discard contents of sieve. Using a large spoon, skim off as much fat as possible from strained liquid. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, and boil gently about 20 minutes, or until lightly syrupy. During last 5 minutes of reducing, add bok choy and cook until tender.

4. Uncover chicken, arrange bok choy around it, and glaze chicken with reduced liquid. (You may have some liquid left over.) Garnish with scallion greens and serve immediately.

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