I was charmed when my uncle bought a small Chinese teacup to measure the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar for this recipe. He typically browns a whole chicken in the wok which requires skill to do. I prefer to use chicken breasts or legs. The Sichuan peppercorns must be dry-roasted in a work for a few minutes to bring out their flavor and then crushed before being cooked.
- 3 whole star anise
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoons peanut oil
- 4 whole chicken legs or 4 small breast halves on the bone (about 2 pounds)
- 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed
- 6 slices ginger
- 1/2 cup homemade chicken broth
In a medium bowl, combine the star anise, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and rice wine. Set aside.
Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes with 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the oil and carefully add the chicken skin side down, spreading it in the wok. Cook, undisturbed 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting the heat between medium and medium-high to let the chicken brown.
Add the garlic and ginger. Then, using a metal spatula, turn the chicken over, and pan-fry 3 to 4 minutes, or until the chicken is browned but not cooked through. Stir the soy sauce mixture, and swirl it into the wok. Turn the chicken over. It should be golden brown. Swirl the broth into the wok, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook 8 minutes for the legs or 5 minutes for the breast.