Chicken In An Eastern Sauce

My best way to enjoy chicken is roasted whole, left at the side of the stove for a while, and taken just warm, all parts ripped away, and slammed between a couple of slices of bread, crispy, crispy skin included. The next best is to take hold of all those terrific new boned and skinned legs, or the wings (bones still intact), and soak them all in the same marinade to impart all sorts of flavour and stickiness from things like soy and honey and chilli and garlic and whatever else is in range. This is great with the thigh and drumstick, and it’s terrific with the wings, skinned. Makes for marvellous finger food at parties. Just watch out for the dripping soy and honey mix. Plays hell with white shirts.

1 cup soy sauce

just under ½ cup honey

1 cup dry sherry

1 or 2 chillies

1 fresh bay leaf, split into pieces, or several sage leaves

1 sprig of rosemary

a few sprigs of thyme – Or parsley, or coriander, or tarragon, or whatever fresh, flavoursome herb you can find.

1 nut of ginger, sliced finely

1 small carrot, sliced thinly lengthways

chicken pieces, skinned and boned – Don’t use chicken wings – these are true finger and gnaw food, and are nothing without their bones.


Bring the marinade ingredients (everything except the chicken) to a gentle boil, stirring to ensure the honey melts and doesn’t stick on the bottom. (The honey is easily melted before you add it to the mixture, by putting it in a bowl with a little sherry and soy and heating it through in the microwave.) Set the marinade aside to cool.


Pour the marinade over the chicken. This is best done in a wide glass or ceramic bowl, so that all the chook parts get the treatment. The chicken is best left in the marinade overnight but 6 hours is plenty as well. During this time, if you can, turn the top to the bottom, so all the pieces get a good sight of the juice.


Heat the oven to 200°C. Cook the chicken pieces in the marinade on top of the stove on a gentle heat until the marinade just comes to a gentle simmer.


Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the chicken half-way through.


Remove the chicken pieces, and pour off a cup of the marinade into a small saucepan. Cook on a high heat, stirring, for a couple of minutes, reducing the liquid. Take care. It can burn if you are careless.


Pour over the chicken, and serve with steamed rice or boiled or stir-fried Chinese noodles. Baked potatoes (or pumpkin) fluffed up and tossed with chives are beautiful partners.

Bay leaves crop up in just about every recipe for stocks and soups and marinades. So they should. I’ve a tree growing outside the back window, and it’s my pride and joy. (Perhaps because it’s one of my few long-term garden projects that has actually worked!) I love strolling past, picking off a leaf and rubbing it under my nose. The aromas are all those aromas you associate with great soups and stocks. Please look to plant one, and profit from it. They’ll grow for a thousand lifetimes, and provide on the way for a million soups. That strong aroma really does give itself to a bubbling cauldron.

WINE: Given that you are standing around, chatting and dribbling soy down your front while eating these, you will probably be sipping an aperitif. There are some excellent Australian méthode champenoise produced from chardonnay and pinot noir in the $13 to $18 price range that would help you love the chook.