Cantonese soy braised chicken wings are incredibly nostalgic for me — you can often find them at Chinese restaurants, butcher shops, and even at dimsum. It’s one of my favorite dishes from my mom, and is highly requested from my brother and I whenever we visit home. I’m so excited to share with you my mom’s key tips to get the beautifully bouncy, gelatinous skin and juicy, tender meat on these chicken wings.
*This dish is very similar to the Filipino chicken adobo! One of the key differences I see between the two dishes is that chicken adobo typically includes vinegar, and the Cantonese version doesn’t.
How to get the bounciest skin and most tender meat for Cantonese soy braised chicken wings:
Blanching the skin in boiling water for just 20 seconds immediately tightens it up and gives it the bouncy texture. This step is so important and is done before the chicken wings are braised. In the picture above, you can see the difference between the skin that’s blanched and not.
Residual heat cooking makes the biggest difference in achieving tender, fall off the bone meat. I use the same method for my easy Hainan Chicken & Rice Recipe, and it really is the key to achieving the juiciest meat! Once you add the chicken to the pot, all you have to do is to let it boil uncovered for a few minutes, then put a tight-fitting lid over the pot, and take the pot off the heat to let the residual heat cook the chicken the rest of the way. If you boil the chicken all the way through the cooking process, you can end up with meat that is dry.
One of my favorite things about making this dish is that you end up with a pot of delicious leftover braising liquid that you can (and absolutely should) reuse! Here are some of my favorite ways to reuse it:
marinate soft-boiled eggs
Boil eggs to your desired yolk firmness (I prefer 6-7 minute eggs for the liquid gold consistency), then put them into an ice bath for a few minutes. Peel the eggs gently, and put them into a container with the leftover and cooled soy sauce braising liquid for 6-8 hours in the fridge.
as a base for ramen broth
Just add chicken, dashi, or bone broth to the leftover braising liquid to create a delicious ramen broth that tastes like you spent hours cooking it over the stove.
just drizzle over rice, or make fried rice or stir-fries
Honestly the braising liquid is so good that I sometimes just eat it over some plain white rice! I’ve also added it to fried rice and stir-fries (noodles, vegetables) as a sauce while cooking.
Similar recipes to these Cantonese soy braised chicken wings
If you like this recipe, I think you'll enjoy my braised chashu pork belly with marinated eggs! It's a little more time intensive compared to this one because pork belly takes longer to prep and cook, but the results are SO delicious. I hope you try it out!
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Cantonese Soy Braised Chicken Wings
- 3 slices ginger
- 3 stalks scallions cut into 3 inch pieces
- 3-4 cloves garlic lightly crushed
- 2 pods star anise
- 1-2 bay leaves
Prepare the ingredients
- Prepare the aromatics: slice 3 pieces of ginger, peel and lightly crush 3-4 cloves of garlic, and cut 3 stalks of scallions into 3 inch pieces (separate the white and green parts).3 slices ginger, 3-4 cloves garlic, 3 stalks scallions
Blanch the chicken wings
- Blanch chicken wings in boiling water for 20 seconds. The easiest and fastest way to do this is to use a hot water kettle, and to pour the boiling water onto the chicken wings in a large bowl in the sink (see video). This would save a lot of time compared to heating up a large pot of water over a stove. Drain the hot water, and run cool or ice water over the chicken. This helps achieve the bouncy skin!12-16 chicken wings
Cook the aromatics and braise the chicken wings
- On medium heat, add 1 tablespoon neutral oil to a pot (I’m using a 2 quart pot). Add aromatics and spices: ginger slices, lightly crushed garlic cloves, scallions (white parts), star anise, and bay leaves. Stir fry 1 min or until fragrant.1 tablespoon neutral oil, 3 slices ginger, 3 stalks scallions, 3-4 cloves garlic, 2 pods star anise, 1-2 bay leaves
- Add yellow rock sugar + a splash of water, then cook for 3-4 minutes or until sugar slightly caramelizes, but is not burnt.50-75 g Chinese yellow rock sugar
- Add ½ cup light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, and ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder. If you like your chicken wings darker in color, you can add a little bit more dark soy sauce. Mix well.½ cup light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1 cup water, 2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
- Add in blanched chicken wings and scallions (greens), making sure the liquid covers most of the chicken. If not, add water (and more light soy sauce and sugar if needed).
- Turn the heat up to high. Keep it at rolling boil for 2 minutes, then cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and turn off the heat. If there are any gaps between your lid and pot, cover or wrap with a kitchen towel to keep the heat in. If you're using a stove that stays hot after it’s off (i.e electric stove), make sure to move the pot away from the heat source.
- Let sit covered for 30 min. The high residual heat will gently cook the chicken wings to the perfect tenderness. After about 30 minutes, they're ready to eat! Make sure to check one of the chicken wings to make sure it's cooked through. If not, leave it covered for another few minutes.
- Serve over rice, with some of the braising liquid drizzled over the top. Don't waste the remaining braising liquid! Store it in the fridge or use it for marinated soft-boiled eggs, as a base for ramen broth, or as a sauce for your stir-fries.
- If you don't plan on eating all of them, they can continue marinating in the liquid -- just make sure to cool the liquid down with a few ice cubes so that it doesn't continue cooking the chicken.