Chinese Coca-Cola Chicken
Question: What makes a dish Chinese? There are undeniable classics, like Husband and Wife Lung Slices (Fūqī Fèipiàn, 夫妻肺片). You can find it in many restaurants, the dish has a distinct history, and the ingredients used are identifiably Chinese in combination. So let’s look at today’s recipe.
You probably wont find it in a Chinese restaurant (no matter what country you’re in.) This is home-cooked food.
The dish has a short history. Compared to other dishes with roots in the Qing dynasty, it’s a baby. Plus it’s fragmented. You’ll find a thousand different variations on the recipe if you search the web. This one belongs to Zhao Jian, a Dongbei native and friend of the girlfriend. I’ve taken out the ginger, added sichuan pepper, tweaked the amounts, and used smaller dice cuts. Otherwise, it’s unchanged.
Most of the ingredients fit the mold, but the star didn’t make it to mainland China until the 1980′s. Does that make the flavor American, transnational, fusion? What would you call it?
I say it’s a perfect representation of modern China in one plate. Chinese tradition smothered in Western conglomerate influence.
What I Used
- Chicken drumsticks, 8 small ones or 4 American-sized ones
- Soy sauce, 8 teaspoons
- Ground Sichuan pepper, ½ teaspoon
- Ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon
- Salt, ½ teaspoon
- MSG, ½ teaspoon
- Peanut oil, 3 tablespoons
- Garlic, 3 cloves diced
- Mild fresh green pepper, ¼ cup diced
- Cilantro, 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Coca-Cola, 16oz.
What I Did
- Lay out the package of chicken drumsticks.
- Pick up each drumstick, take a knife, and put a couple scores (small cuts) into the meat of each drumstick.
- Put the chicken right back down where it was.
- Sprinkle salt, black pepper, sichuan pepper, and MSG on top of the drumsticks.
- Pour the soy sauce on top of the chicken.
- Give each piece a quick turn, just to mix everything up and cover the chicken.
- Walk away for 10 minutes and enjoy a beer.
- Heat a wok or pan, add the peanut oil, and get that up to the smoking point. Leave it on high heat.
- Add the chicken and marinade liquid. If you haven’t already, turn on a fan.
- Your oil will be pissed at you. It will try to hurt you, but you have to keep moving the chicken around. Maybe you have a pair of super long tongs, good for you. Zhao Jian just does this with a normal pair of chopsticks. Pain is gain folks.
- Once the skin is a rich, tasty brown, add the garlic and green pepper and stir for 15 seconds. Still on high heat.
- Add Coca-Cola.
- Bring it up to a simmer and turn the heat down just to keep the simmer going.
- Put the lid on.
- Wait. The amount of liquid that will evaporate depends on your lid and the seal, so this part isn’t an exact science. If after 30 minutes you still aren’t at the next step, remove the lid and reduce the liquid until you reach it.
- When most of the liquid is gone, remove the lid and put the heat on low. The last bit of reduction is touchy and subjective, so don’t try to automate it. The sugar in the Coca-Cola will have caramelized and thickened it into a glaze. A lot of people say these things are ready “when it coats the back of a spoon.” If that works for you, fine. I just stir it around and when it coats the chicken in a way that looks so appetizing I have to stop cooking it and eat it, I do.
- Cut the heat, add the cilantro, and stir.
- Plate. It will still be hot so give it a couple minutes to cool. This will also help the glaze stick to the chicken as more water is lost in the wait.
- Prep Time:
- Cooking Time: - minutes
- Total Time: - minutes
- Servings: 4
If you have some problem with MSG, leave it out, fine. Arguing with MSG haters is about as hilarious and useless as asking a flat-earther for directions.
In any case you should be left with sweet chicken just short of falling off the bone. Make sure to keep a few napkins around.