Quick-Braised Onion Chicken 洋葱鸡

The smell and taste of raw pungent onions are not alluring to me but I absolutely love onions that have been caramelized or "overcooked" to sweetness. Here's the deal. I recently learn a trick about onions, or rather, cooking onions. It can make magic delicious sauce and gravy even for Asian-inspired dishes.

If you are not into too much "bottled seasoning" cooking e.g. you look at some Asian-inspired recipe, see dark soy sauce/oyster sauce in the ingredient list, and then decide to skip the dish as you do not have those seasonings in the pantry. Skip it. Is that what you would do? Don't.

You can make just as good a sauce/gravy if you only have that widely available naturally brewed light soy sauce in your pantry. Here's the trick. Use a lot of onions and cook them down till they thicken up and consequently sweeten up the soy-sauce based gravy. My pantry is minimally stocked with Asian-type bottled seasonings: light soy sauce, black vinegar, Chinese cooking wine and sesame oil are all I have, as I always try to look at fresh ingredients to flavor up the dish.

This dish is not about caramelizing onions in a oiled heated pan (read: How to cook onions and why recipe Writers Lie about it, however, message being: if you cook onions long enough (cook down till the onions almost dissolved into the gravy - using "eyeball" to judge and not mere ticking of the timer/clock), a natural deep sweetness can be achieved, and in this case, well-balanced by the saltiness of soy sauce.

Quick-Braised Onion Chicken 洋葱鸡

  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 10 bite-size pieces chicken (Note: the estimated ratio of onions to chicken for sweetness in the final dish) marinated* for at least an hour
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 thin slices of ginger
  • 1 small carrot, sliced to bite-size
  • 1tbsp light soy-sauce

  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 tsp Chinese cooking wine

In a lightly oiled heated wok, add the onions and ginger and fry for about 5 minutes. Add carrots, then garlic, and fry for about 2-3 minutes at medium-high heat. Add the marinated chicken and fry for about 5 minutes till brown. Add soy sauce, then water to partially submerge the chicken. Cover the wok and cook for 25 minutes or more, at medium-high heat (Note: medium-high heat is to achieve speed of developing flavors in a quick-braise) till gravy mixture reduced in volume and thickens up.

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