Penny savers recipe: soy sauce braised meat

I was watching a lot of Youtube when I first arrived here last year, especially 康熙来了, a Taiwanese variety talkshow that was been keeping me company during the lonely cold days here in Bremen. In one particular episode, the guests were introducing foods from their university days, and one guest introduced 卤鸡腿饭, or rice with braised chicken thigh. That sounded and looked absolutely scrumptious so I thought it might be a good dinner idea. I tried to find the simplest recipe and I think I found it. I adapted it a little since there were some ingredients that were not easily available in my area.

The recipe is very versatile – you can use any cuts of meat (chicken, pork, or even go vegetarian: tofu and eggs are nice too), and the leftover braising sauce can be kept in the freezer for future braising sessions. In fact, I think that’s the best part of the dish… you keep leftover gravy from previous sessions and add it to the next one, intensifying the flavors further.


Apologies for the less than stellar/appetizing photo. I had tried to remove the chicken thigh as a whole piece, but it was so meltingly soft that the meat just slided off the bone as I lifted it up. Hee hee, not that I’m complaining about it!

Serves 2

  • 2 chicken thighs, about 500-550g in total
  • 2 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin off, crushed
  • 1 pc cinnamon stick, abt 3 inches long
  • 1 pc star anise
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (optional)
  • firm tofu, about 200g (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • water

Boil a large pot of water and blanch the chicken thighs for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In your main cooking pot, heat up the oil over medium heat and add in the sliced shallots, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise. Fry until fragrant and add in the light and dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar. Taste the mixture and season accordingly (it should taste a little too salty and sweet because you’re going to add water later). Add in the chicken thighs and sufficient water to cover them. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let simmer over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

If you’re using a thermal cooker like me, I let the mixture boil for about 10 minutes on high, before transferring into the thermal pot. The chicken should be cooked after 2 hours or so.

If you’re adding the eggs and tofu, place them into the braising liquid 30 minutes before serving.


Approx. cost of this recipe: €3.06

  • chicken thighs: €2.80
  • cinnamon stick: €0.20
  • star anise: €0.06

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