How to Make Soy Sauce Chicken: Indonesian Style

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Soy sauce chicken is a beloved dish that hails from Indonesian cuisine, specifically the Indonesian Chinese community. This flavorful and savory dish has gained popularity not only in Indonesia but also globally, with its roots extending to Cantonese cuisine in China. In this blog, we will dive into the origins of soy sauce chicken, why it became popular in Hong Kong, and explore the essential ingredients and cooking techniques to make delicious Indonesian-style soy sauce chicken. Whether you’re a fan of chicken drumsticks, leg quarters, or cuts of chicken, this recipe is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

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Soy Sauce Chicken

soy sauce chicken

Before we embark on our culinary journey into making delicious Indonesian soy sauce chicken, let’s take a moment to comprehend the essence of this dish. Soy sauce chicken is a traditional Cantonese dish that dates back many years in Chinese culinary history. It’s a classic dish prepared by poaching or simmering chicken in a flavorful soy sauce-based liquid, giving the chicken a tender, juicy, and umami-rich taste. This dish has stood the test of time and has become an essential part of Chinese cuisine, celebrated in various regions, including Hong Kong.

Soy sauce chicken, or “yao gai” in Cantonese, has its origins deeply rooted in Cantonese cuisine. This classic dish has been part of Chinese culinary tradition for centuries, with recipes handed down through generations. Traditionally, soy sauce chicken was prepared for joyful celebrations and special occasions, showcasing the importance of food in Chinese culture. Over time, soy sauce chicken’s popularity has spread, transcending borders and becoming a beloved dish in various parts of the world. Its unique blend of flavors, tender texture, and succulent meat have made it a favorite among food enthusiasts, both in them haki g Hong Kong, where it has earned Michelin star status, and beyond.

Soy sauce chicken holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Hong Kong. This dish has become an integral part of the city’s food culture, firmly establishing itself as a classic Cantonese dish. It can be found in various eateries, from hawker stalls to high-end restaurants, across Hong Kong. Savoring a plate of soy sauce chicken is a culinary delight that locals and tourists alike indulge in. Its popularity is further evident by the number of Michelin-starred establishments that serve this dish, solidifying its status as an iconic dish in Hong Kong’s culinary landscape. Soy sauce chicken exemplifies the fusion of tradition and modernity, highlighting the ability of food to unite people and cultures.

Indonesian Soy Sauce Chicken

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Now that we have an understanding of soy sauce chicken and its significance, let’s shift our focus to crafting the perfect Indonesian-style soy sauce chicken. To achieve authentic flavors, it’s crucial to pay attention to the essential ingredients and cooking techniques. From preferred chicken cuts to ingredient breakdowns, we will explore how each component contributes to the overall taste and texture of this delectable dish.

Preferred Chicken Cuts

When it comes to Indonesian soy sauce chicken, different cuts of chicken lend their unique textures and flavors to the dish. Here are some preferred chicken cuts commonly used:

  • Whole chicken, cut into pieces: Using a whole chicken provides a variety of cuts, making for an interesting presentation and flavorful eating experience.
  • Chicken drumsticks: These juicy cuts are perfect for soy sauce chicken, as they remain tender and succulent throughout the cooking process.
  • Leg quarters: With dark meat, leg quarters offer a richer flavor and maintain an ideal texture when simmered in the soy sauce blend.
  • Other cuts of chicken: Feel free to experiment with your preferred cuts, such as bone-in chicken thighs or wings, to tailor the recipe to your taste.

Ingredients Breakdown

To create the complex flavors of Indonesian soy sauce chicken, it’s important to understand the role of each ingredient. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Star anise: This aromatic spice adds a hint of licorice-like flavor, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
  • Rice wine: Often Shaoxing rice wine is used, providing a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to the marinade.
  • Dark soy sauce: This essential ingredient gives the chicken its rich brown color while imparting a deeper, earthy flavor.
  • Light soy sauce: Light soy sauce balances out the dish, adding saltiness and umami notes.
  • Oyster sauce: Adding a touch of oyster sauce enhances the savory profile of the dish, amplifying its complexity.
  • Brown sugar: A small amount of brown sugar adds a subtle sweetness, harmonizing the flavors of the soy sauce and other ingredients.

Understanding the Role of Soy Sauce

Soy sauce plays a central role in creating the bold, umami-packed flavors of Indonesian soy sauce chicken. Here’s why it’s an essential ingredient:

  • Essential ingredient: Soy sauce is the star of the show, enriching the dish with its savory, salty, and slightly sweet notes.
  • Regular soy sauce: Commonly used soy sauce, also known as light soy sauce, adds a delicate saltiness, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
  • Dark soy sauce: Dark soy sauce gives the chicken its rich color and imparts a deeper, robust flavor to the dish.
  • Light soy sauce: Light soy sauce provides a balance of flavors, harmonizing the other ingredients without overpowering the dish.

Constructing the Perfect Soy Sauce Blend

To create the perfect soy sauce blend for your Indonesian soy sauce chicken, it’s important to find the right balance between dark and light soy sauce. Additionally, combining other key ingredients will further enhance the flavors of the dish, resulting in a mouth-watering chicken recipe that will have you coming back for more.

The Proportion of Light and Dark Soy Sauce

Finding the ideal ratio of light and dark soy sauces is crucial to achieving the desired taste and color of Indonesian soy sauce chicken. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Dark soy sauce: Dark soy sauce should be used in moderation to avoid overpowering the dish. Start with a small amount and increase as desired.
  • Light soy sauce: Light soy sauce provides the balance of saltiness and umami flavors, so use it generously to marinate the chicken.
  • Shaoxing wine: This rice wine adds depth of flavor and subtle sweetness to the soy sauce blend, enhancing the overall taste of the dish. Adjust the amount according to your preference.

Mixing with Other Key Ingredients

To elevate the flavors of your soy sauce blend, consider mixing it with other essential ingredients commonly used in Indonesian soy sauce chicken:

  • Shaoxing rice wine: Adding a splash of shaoxing rice wine imparts a delicate sweetness and enhances the depth of flavors.
  • Chinese rose wine: This fragrant wine contributes aromatic notes, elevating the sensory experience of your soy sauce chicken.
  • Oyster sauce: A small amount of oyster sauce adds richness and umami depth to the sauce, amplifying its overall flavor profile.
  • Brown sugar: A touch of brown sugar balances out the saltiness of the soy sauce, adding a hint of sweetness to the dish.

Mastering the Cooking Process

Now that we have our soy sauce blend ready, let’s delve into the cooking process to achieve soy sauce chicken perfection. From searing the chicken to simmering it to juicy tenderness, each step is crucial in creating a memorable dining experience.

The Art of Searing Chicken

Searing the chicken before simmering it is an essential step to develop a golden brown crust and enhance the overall visual appeal of the dish. Follow these tips:

  • Place the chicken skin side down in a preheated pan over medium-high heat.
  • Allow the skin to crisp up and turn golden brown, ensuring a flavorful and crispy exterior.
  • Flip the chicken only once during the searing process to retain the juiciness of the meat.
  • Once seared, remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest, allowing the juices to redistribute and the flavors to meld.

Simmering Tips for Juicy Chicken

Simmering the chicken to juicy perfection requires attention to detail and careful cooking techniques. Here’s how to master the art of simmering:

  • Adjust the heat to low, allowing the chicken to gently cook and become tender.
  • Baste the chicken with the simmering liquid at regular intervals to infuse it with extra flavor.
  • Cover the pan while simmering to retain moisture, ensuring the chicken remains succulent throughout cooking.
  • Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring it is fully cooked and safe to eat.
  • Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part of the chicken with a kitchen thermometer, ensuring the juices run clear.

Ensuring Flavor Absorption

To achieve maximum flavor absorption, follow these tips:

  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, or overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat fully.
  • While simmering, rotate the chicken pieces occasionally to ensure even absorption of the flavors.
  • Keep an extra sauce or poaching liquid nearby to baste the chicken, infusing it with additional flavor during the cooking process.
  • Simmer the chicken in the marinade, allowing the sauce to reduce and intensify, creating a rich and flavorful sauce.
  • Garnish the chicken with green onions or other fresh herbs before serving for a burst of freshness and added visual appeal.

Serving Suggestions for Soy Sauce Chicken

Soy sauce chicken is versatile and can be enjoyed on its own as a main dish or paired with complementary ingredients and side dishes. Let’s explore some traditional Indonesian add-ons and an adaptation to Hong Kong’s taste, offering you an array of serving options.

Traditional Indonesian Add-Ons

Indonesian soy sauce chicken can be enhanced with traditional add-ons, offering a complete and satisfying meal experience. Consider these options:

  • Chicken rice: Serve soy sauce chicken with fragrant chicken rice, allowing the rice to absorb the chicken’s flavorful sauce.
  • White rice: A simple pairing of soy sauce chicken with steamed white rice allows the chicken’s delicious flavors to take center stage.
  • Green onions: Garnish with fresh green onions, adding a touch of freshness and a subtle, oniony note that complements the dish beautifully.
  • In addition, you can also include traditional Indonesian condiments, such as sambal, spicy pickles, or shrimp crackers, to elevate your dining experience.

Adapting to Hong Kong Taste

For those looking to adapt their soy sauce chicken recipe to cater to Hong Kong taste preferences, here are some suggestions:

  • Incorporate elements of classic Cantonese cuisine, such as star anise and cinnamon, to infuse an authentic Hong Kong-inspired flavor profile into the dish.
  • Add a small amount of rock sugar to provide a subtle sweetness, mirroring the flavors of popular siu mei dishes, such as roast goose.
  • Customize the dish further by incorporating dark soy sauce for a deeper color and richer taste, reminiscent of classic Chinese takeout favorites.
  • Garnish the chicken with sesame seeds for an added nutty accent, elevating the dish’s visual appeal.
  • Serve soy sauce chicken alongside bok choy or other Chinese greens, offering an authentic and well-rounded meal.

Storing and Reheating Guidelines

If you find yourself with leftovers, don’t worry, soy sauce chicken can be stored and reheated without compromising its delicious flavors. Here are some guidelines to ensure your leftovers taste just as good as the first serving.

Proper Storage for Retaining Flavor

To retain the rich flavors of soy sauce chicken, proper storage is essential. Follow these steps:

  • Store leftover soy sauce chicken in an airtight container, ensuring the cooking liquid covers the chicken pieces to keep them moist.
  • For easy reheating, separate the sauce from the chicken by storing them in individual containers.
  • For longer shelf life, freeze soy sauce chicken, making sure to label the container with the date for easy tracking.
  • Thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator overnight before reheating, ensuring safe and even thawing of the chicken pieces.

Reheating without Drying Out

To reheat soy sauce chicken without drying out the meat, follow these tips:

  • Add a splash of chicken broth or reserved sauce while reheating to keep the chicken moist and flavorful.
  • Cover the dish with a damp paper towel to prevent excessive moisture loss, preventing the chicken from drying out.
  • Heat the chicken slowly over medium heat, allowing it to warm up evenly without overcooking.
  • Sprinkle a small amount of water over the chicken before reheating in the oven, further preventing dryness.
  • For an extra burst of juiciness, briefly stir-fry the reheated chicken with a little oil until heated through and invitingly succulent.

Tried and Tested Tips from Indonesian Cooks in Hong Kong

To enhance your soy sauce chicken cooking skills, we turn to the expertise of Indonesian cooks in Hong Kong. Their invaluable tips and tricks will help you elevate your soy sauce chicken to new heights of flavor and authenticity.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure your soy sauce chicken turns out perfectly every time, steer clear of these common mistakes:

  • Avoid overcooking the chicken, which can result in a tough texture. Use a kitchen thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of the chicken, making sure it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Be mindful of the amount of soy sauce used, as excessive saltiness can overpower the dish. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste.
  • Prevent burning the sauce by monitoring the cooking temperature throughout the process, and adjusting it as needed to avoid scorching.
  • Don’t rush the marinating step; allow the chicken ample time to absorb the flavors fully for optimal taste.
  • Avoid overcrowding the pan while cooking, ensuring the chicken pieces have enough room to brown and caramelize properly.

How Do You Like Your Indonesian Soy Sauce Chicken?

Indonesian soy sauce chicken offers endless possibilities for customization, allowing you to adapt the dish to suit your preferences. Whether you prefer sliced chicken, boneless chicken thighs, chicken wings, or chicken legs, this recipe is versatile and perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. The succulent, juicy, and aromatic chicken pairs beautifully with steamed rice, noodles, or even as part of a hearty salad. Feel free to experiment with additional spices or herbs, such as ginger or garlic, to create unique flavor profiles. The beauty of soy sauce chicken lies in its adaptability, allowing you to tailor the recipe to your liking while still preserving its traditional essence.


In conclusion, Indonesian-style Soy Sauce Chicken is a flavorful dish deeply rooted in tradition and popular for its rich taste. Mastering the perfect blend of soy sauces, cooking techniques, and serving suggestions is key to achieving an authentic and delicious outcome. Whether you prefer it with traditional Indonesian add-ons or adapted to a Hong Kong taste, this dish is versatile and satisfying. Remember to store and reheat it properly to retain its flavors. Embrace the culinary artistry and enjoy the savory goodness of Indonesian Soy Sauce Chicken in every bite.

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