Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shoyu (Soy Sauce) Chicken

Shoyu (or soy sauce) chicken seems to exist in some form in many Asian cuisines. The first time I had it was at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, and it was called soy sauce chicken. In Hawaii, it's called shoyu chicken, as shoyu is the Japanese word for soy sauce. It is simply chicken thighs braised in five spice-infused soy sauce. The chicken turns a dark, rich brown color, and absorbs the perfect amount of salty soy sauce and warm five spice, while the sauce is enriched with the broth from the chicken. I like to add frozen pineapple juice concentrate (I've written before about my love of cooking with frozen fruit juices here and here), which provides just the right amount of sweetness and acidity, and hey, it's Hawaiian! It makes plenty of sauce to pour over rice or noodles and veggies. It's a simple, exotic tasting one pot meal that only requires a few ingredients, plus it can be made on the stovetop or in a slow cooker!

Shoyu Chicken

1/4 t five spice
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T minced garlic
2 t minced ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup froz pineapple juice concentrate, or 1/4 cup rice vinegar plus 2 packets Splenda or 2 t sugar
4 lbs chicken thighs (bone in or out, skin removed)
1/4 cup water (omit if using slow cooker)
2 T cornstarch mixed with enough water to make a slurry

Stovetop method: Stir all ingredients except cornstarch together in a large saucepan. Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove chicken from broth and set aside. Separate fat from broth. (I use a fat separator, although you could just skim it. Return broth to saucepan and pour in cornstarch slurry. Simmer for a minute to thicken. Return chicken to pot and coat with sauce.

Slow cooker method: Dump all ingredients except cornstarch slurry into slow cooker. Cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Remove lid and skim off fat. Stir in cornstarch slurry, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened.

Serve chicken with rice or noodles and steamed broccoli, and pour sauce on top.


  1. This looks so good! I can't wait to try making it myself (but with white meat because I am a picky eater :P).

  2. Yeah, I love chicken thighs, especially in this dish--they're cheap, they stay moist, and make the sauce taste really rich. Chicken breasts would be good too, though. Just be sure to cook them less so they don't get dry. Probably about 15-20 minutes, just until they're cooked through.