June 9, 2014

Chinese Drunken Chicken 醉雞

Chilled, Cold, Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe

Cooking with Chinese wine has become a fascinating cooking and taste experience, once I got past the memory of once being extremely naively drunk on Mao-tai wine (and up chucking my dinner up on my companion's nice suit jacket!  Oh, the follies of youth!)  But seriously, the use of wine in Chinese cooking is a real art.  It is used everyday for even the most ordinary cooking!  There are so many types of Chinese wines: distilled from rice, glutinous rice, wheat, sorghum, millet, ginger, tea, herbs, berries, bamboo and fruits.  

In our little kitchen we usually have around four different kinds of Chinese wines knocking about.  The important thing about Chinese wines to remember is that they have very high alcohol contents (20% to 40% proof) and therefore should be consumed with extreme care if drinking (yup, one lesson this girl has learned the hard way!)  

However, when one is cooking, that same intensity will give your food an extra kick of serious flavor layering that is hard to come by otherwise.  And thus we come to that perennial Shanghai superstar wine marinated chilled meat dish, the spectacular, the awesome, perfect for summer, Chinese Drunken Chicken, or 醉雞.

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe
Chicken after poaching

Chinese Drunken Chicken is actually a simple dish.  So, as the usual rule with simple dishes, the quality of the ingredients that you use will greatly affect the final tastiness of the food.  First things first, find yourself some good Chinese wine.  Yellow wine, or 黃酒, is almost always paired with Chinese meat dishes.  The aromatic sweetness of yellow wine is the perfect complement to meat.  Yellow wine you could use can include everything from Shao Hsing Wine (紹興酒) to Huadiao Wine (花雕酒) to Nu'er Hong (女兒紅).  Aged wine will have nicer, rounder flavor.

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe

When you get more familiar with the characteristics of your Chinese wines, you can do some creative combinations with different wines that will make for very interesting flavor layering in your dishes.  For example for Chinese Drunken Chicken you could use 90% Shao Hsing Wine and then 10% Chinese Rose Essence Wine (玫瑰露醉).  And so on...  There are so many different types of Chinese wines that the combination possibilities are endless.  You just have to get to know your Chinese wines first.  Just be careful when taste testing!

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe

And, for the other major ingredient in Chinese Drunken Chicken, get yourself some quality chicken, either fresh from the wet market or organic.  A bit more pricey but worth it for the taste alone.  Organic being a touch to pricey for us to eat all the time, we usually try to get freshly slaughtered chicken (never been frozen) at the wet market.  Remarkable taste difference, I must say.

We used chicken wings for our drunken chicken, but you could also use half of a whole chicken.  Whatever you use, just be sure to chop the chicken to pieces before placing in marinating wine sauce so that the meat of the chicken can easily absorb the sauce.

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe, chinese wines
One of the dynamic duos that structure chinese cooking:  ginger and spring onions

Drunken Chicken is usually known as a Shanghai meat dish but it actually is from Zhejiang province (my 媽媽's province!).  Zhejiang province is also the original producer of the Shao Hsing wine.  So Chinese Drunken Chicken, a historic dish that's been around for probably hundreds of years at least, was created in Zhejiang using local made ingredients.  How cool this that!

Psst...like drunken chicken?  Try our Drunken Crab with Chinese Rose Essence Wine 玫瑰露醉蟹 recipe...it's flaming fabulous!!  Or our easy and yummilicious Drunken Shrimp 醉蝦!
Drunken Chicken Recipe   醉雞
(Prep time: 3 mins  Cook time: 1 hour)


  • 10 chicken wings or half a whole chicken
  • 8 slices ginger
  • 3 spring onion stalk, cut to 3 inch lengths
  • 2 cups Shao Hsing rice wine
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp rock sugar
  • 1 tbsp Himalayan sugar or whatever other sugar you have
  • salt to taste


Add enough water to pot to be able to comfortably cover the chicken. When water is boiled add the spring onion and ginger.  When you can smell the fragrance of the ginger and spring onion, add 1/2 cup of wine, salt and chicken.  

Let boil for 3 minutes, then turn off heat, cover and let steep for 50 minutes.  Plunge into iced water until completely cooled. Put in strainer to drip dry.  Reserve cooking stock.

In small pot, heat 1 cup reserved cooking stock, 1 cup wine and two kinds of sugar just until sugar is melted.  Add salt to taste.  Taste and adjust with more salt and sugar if necessary.  Allow to cool completely.

Make sure wings are as dry as possible.  If using whole chicken wings, cut to three parts at the joints, then chop each section in half.  If using half chicken chop to bite sized pieces.  

Put chicken into shallow nonreactive dish.  Pour the cooled marinating sauce over.  Add the rest of the wine (1/2 cup).  Make sure the wings are completely covered.  (Top up with more wine if necessary.)  Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for one to two days.  Serve cold in the marinating sauce.



  1. if using a whole chicken should the rest of the ingredients stay the same amount would you say or need extra?

    1. For a whole chicken just make sure the water just covers the submerged chicken, increase (low heat) cooking time to 30 mins with the 50 mins covered/off the heat staying the same. The only other change would be to chop the whole chicken into serving piece sizes before marinating and refrigerating. Good luck on your drunken chicken! ~ellen

    2. Can regular sugar be used in place of Himalayan sugar if not available?

  2. Hi, I plan on using double the amount of chicken, is it fine to double the quantity of ingredients? Would I need to cook longer because of the extra wine?

  3. Yes okay to double. No need to cook extra for the wine but maybe cook a bit longer as you're doubling the chicken. Check the chicken and extend time as needed. ~ellen