July 17, 2021

Chinese Fermented Rice Drunken Chicken 酒釀雞

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This is a twist on the classic version of the famous deliciously chilled and wine flavored Chinese Drunken Chicken.  Y'all be knowing that wine has a most wonderful way of flavoring food.  In our previous recipe post on the traditional style of Chinese Drunken Chicken 酒釀雞 we remarked on the fact that different types and mixes of chinese wine can be used to produce tailored to your taste buds flavorsome results.  

For this chilled Chinese Fermented Rice Drunken Chicken 糟雞 a new element is added to the wine marination, a Chinese fermented rice, a sweetly fresh, winey concoction of fermented rice, and the results are a tender chicken deeply infused with winey flavor as well as hints of sweet ricey umami that is arguably even more delicious than the traditional drunken chicken.   Fans of the unique addictive taste of fermented rice will have to try this dish while those who haven't tried it yet, you're in for a treat!

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The star in this twist on the Chinese Drunken Chicken is Chinese Fermented Rice (also known as Jiu Niang 甜酒釀).  This is a traditional food, a freshly sweet and slightly winey fermented rice with a porridge like texture.  It's very lightly alcoholic, around 2%.  

We love this delicious good for you fermented stuff and try to always have a homemade jar of it around at all times.  This is the first time we've tried marinating/soaking with it and we love it!  Using the fermented rice as marinade soak definitely boosted the umami and added a delicate sweet winey note as well as tenderizing the meat.

You can make Chinese Fermented Rice yourself (click on the link for our easy recipe.)  It takes a couple of days to ferment and keeps in the fridge for a long time.  Or you can find jars of Chinese fermented rice in the Chinese wine sections of your local asian grocery market.  Find it online here.

Psst: Check out our favorite way to eat fermented rice: Chinese Fermented Rice Poached Egg Soup 酒釀蛋.

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The chicken is put in a pot of boiling water to cook.  When the water reboils the heat is immediately turned off the and the chicken left to steep in the covered pot.  The gentle heat of this method makes for a really tender and toothsome just cooked chicken.  

We sometimes use chicken wings to make this kind of wine soaked chicken but I think I like to use a whole or half chicken instead as the wine seems to soak in better.

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The marinade/soaking liquid for this drunken chicken is a 50/50 mixture of Chinese fermented rice wine 甜酒釀 and Shao Hsing rice wine 紹興酒 (a Chinese yellow wine typically used to flavor meat dishes) along with a dash of salt and sugar.  Did you know that these wine marinated dishes were originally created as a way to preserve meat for longer in the times before refrigeration?

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The just cooked chicken is cooled, salt marinated for a bit and then placed into a baggie with the wine marinade soak for a long soak in the fridge.  During which time all the lovely winey flavors will be soaked up and the meat tenderized.  

To help the wine soak in better a heavy plate is placed on the chicken to flatten it out.  Turning a couple of times during the soak also helps.

And that's it.  I love it when the food I'm making is time intensive but relatively effortless.  The fridge does all the work!  It's like you know there's a present waiting for you but you just have to wait til the morrow to open it.  All that lovely time to look forward to yummiliciously winey and tender chilled chicken morsels, perfect for a summer dinner!

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Fermented Rice Drunken Chicken Recipe

(adapted from Hangzhou Cuisine by Chan's Kitchen)
Prep time: 2 mins   Cook time: 25 mins  Soak time: 24 hours



Rinse the chicken and let drain.  In a pot large enough to hold the whole chicken comfortably without touching the sides, add water and heat until boiling.  Add chicken in breast up.  When the water re-boils add lid and remove from heat.  Let steep for 18 minutes without opening the lid.  Open and turn the chicken so breast faces down.  Close lid and let steep another 7 mins.  

Remove chicken from water and let cool.  Chop chicken in half along one side of the back bone.  Chop off the entire backbone and discard.  Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt all over the chicken and let marinate for 30 mins.

Prepare the marinade soaking liquid by mixing the Chinese fermented rice, 2 tsp salt, sugar, Shao Hsing rice wine and water.

Put chicken halves and wine marinade into a zip lock bag.  Press out as much air as possible before closing bag.  Place onto a plate, then add some heavy weights over to press the chicken halves down flat as possible  Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the chicken twice.

Cut chicken into pieces (see the video here, with english subtitles, for tips on chopping the chicken to bite sized pieces, starting at 18:00) and arrange on plate.  Drizzle some of the marinade soaking sauce over chicken and serve.  Enjoy!



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