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Shoyu Chicken Recipe

Nearly every Asian cuisine has a soy sauce and chicken dish. In Japanese cooking, there are several. Because shoyu is such a strong, salty ingredient, it can overpower other flavors as well as toughen meat so it must be used judiciously. The popular teriyaki-flavored chicken recipe is made with a strong marinade but it is usually grilled over hot coals, not in the marinade liquid itself.

This recipe for Shoyu Chicken is one of my favorites because it renders very tender chicken meat while imparting a distinct but not overwhelming shoyu flavor. The secret is to poach the chicken pieces in a very light soy sauce marinade. Unlike typical teriyaki marinades which are heavy on the shoyu, this recipe uses chicken broth to dilute the salty shoyu. And because you use boneless pieces, they cook quickly.

The skin is kept on during cooking for added flavor but removed before serving because poached poultry skin is usually flabby and unappealing in texture. But, if you’re a skin lover, you can eat it if you like. I do not discard chicken skin, cooked or raw. My Hungarian-born aunt Eva taught me to cut the skin up into pieces and fry them in a hot non-stick skillet until it is crispy and golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly to crisp up. It is a popular snack dish in Hungary called Toportyu that is served in bars and restaurants. I adore these crunchy skins on salads or on hot rice. Totemo Oishii!

Shoyu Chicken
4 boneless chicken thighs, with skin
2 boneless chicken breasts, with skin
2 cups or 1 can chicken broth
1/2 cup shoyu
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar
1 Tbsp. sake or cooking wine (mirin)
1 small sliver fresh ginger

Wash and pat dry chicken pieces. Cut the chicken breasts in half. In a large, deep skillet, heat chicken broth, shoyu, honey, sake or mirin and ginger. Bring this mixture to a simmer. Add chicken pieces and cover pan with a lid. Allow chicken to poach for about 10 minutes. Turn pieces over and poach them for another 5 minutes or until cooked through. Place chicken pieces on a serving platter and continue to heat the poaching liquid until it reduces slightly.

Remove skin and pour reduced poaching liquid over the chicken. Garnish with sliced green onions before serving. Serve with steamed white rice.

Toportyu (Hungarian Chicken Skin)

Cut up the skin into small pieces. Fry in a hot non-stick skillet until crispy and golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and allow to cool slightly in order to crisp up. Serve as a snack or edible garnish.

Typically, the poultry skin used to make Toportyu was duck skin but chicken skin was used when it was more readily available. It was eaten in order not to waste any part of the bird but it is an absolutely delicious, serendipitous invention! Similar to pork rinds although it is not as fatty.

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