Red Cooking is the Chinese technique of braising meat in soy sauce with rock sugar, spices, and aromatics. Traditionally, the meat was simmered for hours in a sand pot – which is actually made out of clay. But I’m going to speed things up by pressure cooking in my Instant Pot. 1
I substitute American grocery “international aisle” ingredients for their traditional Chinese counterparts. The traditional ingredients are in the notes section of the recipe. (Why? Because it’s fun to shop at an Asian market – I love making the trip. And, if I’m already there, why not pick up the authentic ingredients?)
That said, the “international aisle” version of this recipe is very close to the real thing, and I don’t make a special trip just for these red cooked chicken thighs.
Video: Pressure Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs (2:59)
Video: Pressure Coker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs [YouTube.com]
Pressure Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs. Chicken thighs simmered in soy sauce, sped up by my pressure cooker.
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup raw sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1-inch piece of ginger, crushed
- White part of 2 scallions, roots trimmed, crushed
- 8 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- Green part of 2 scallions, sliced
- Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, 1/4 cup water, raw sugar, dry sherry, and five-spice powder until the sugar starts to dissolve. Stir in the crushed garlic, ginger, and scallions.
- Peel the skin from the chicken thighs: Remove the skin from the chicken thighs. It will stick on one side – pull hard, or use a knife to cut it away from the meat.
- Everything in the pot: Put the chicken thighs in the pot, and pour the sauce over them. Turn the thighs to coat with sauce, then pack them down to submerge them in the sauce as much as possible. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker.
- Pressure cook for 25 minutes with a natural pressure release: Pressure cook on high pressure for 25 minutes in an electric PC or 20 minutes in a stovetop PC, then let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 minutes more.
- Thicken the sauce and serve: Scoop the chicken thighs to a platter with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the sauce behind as possible. With the lid off of the pot, set the pressure cooker to sauté mode (medium heat on the stovetop). Scoop the solid pieces of garlic, ginger, and scallion out of the sauce with a slotted spoon, then wait for the sauce to start to simmer. Whisk the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water to make a cornstarch slurry. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the simmering sauce, then remove from the heat. Ladle some sauce over the platter of chicken, sprinkle with the sliced green onion, and serve.
- Raw sugar is also known as turbinado sugar, or demerra sugar.
- For a more traditional version of the recipe: replace 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce with dark soy sauce, substitute Shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine) for the dry sherry, and rock sugar for the raw sugar.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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- I know there’s a Chinese grandmother out there muttering “pressure cooker” and shaking her head. I’m sorry, grandmother, but…I don’t have the time or patience to care for a clay sand pot. ↩