There is nothing better than a meal that hits the spot. It's like a hug from that friend who gives the best hugs -- it makes you stop in your tracks and demands you enjoy the moment because nothing else is better. Soy sauce chicken is comfort food at its best. In fact, it belongs right alongside pancakes-for-dinner, and hot-chocolate-in-PJs, and mac-n-cheese-by-Mom. It just makes sense. Add in Brussels sprouts in a fish sauce (trust us) vinaigrette, and then you have something competing with those hugs. Plus, after tonight, you'll have a new weeknight staple, and a not sad desk lunch the next day -- one that your nosy coworker wont be able to stop eyeballing.
Serves 4 to 6
2 pounds of chicken thighs
2 slices ginger
1 cup diced tomatoes (or 3 tablespoons tomato paste)
3 shitake mushrooms, sliced (fried or fresh)
Dried red chili peppers (optional)
3 tablespoons cilantro stems
3 tablespoons mint
2 pounds Brussel sprouts (smaller ones are better)
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 cup fish sauce
1 to 3 red bird's eye chiles, thinly sliced
We're assuming you have garlic, wine (sherry, sake, sweet white or rice wine will all work), sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, neutral oil, and brown sugar. If not, add those to the shopping list, too.
1. Hard-boil the eggs -- then peel them and set them aside. Don't worry about the shells sticking; ugly eggs still taste good.
2. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette for your Brussels sprouts, adding the cilantro stems and mint.
3. Peel away any loose or discolored outer leaves from your sprouts, trim the dry end of the stems with a knife, and cut them in half. Cut any especially large ones in quarters.
4. Heat the oven to 400°F. Heat 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or just enough to evenly coat the bottom of the pan) in 2 oven-safe wide skillets over medium heat. When the oil slides easily from side to side of the pan, add the brussels sprouts cut side down. When the cut faces of the sprouts begin to brown, transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking, about 15 minutes. Alternately, if you don't have 2 large skillets or are cooking more sprouts for a larger crowd, roast them in the oven: Toss them with 1 tablespoon of oil per pound and spread them on a baking sheet, cut sides down. Roast in the oven, checking for browning every 10 to 15 minutes. The sprouts are ready when they are tender but not soft, with nice, dark brown color.
5. In another large pot add garlic and ginger and place on medium high heat. Place chicken in skin side down. Let chicken brown on all sides for 5 minutes. It doesn’t have to get very dark, you just want a bit of browning for flavor. Also, make sure you don’t let the garlic burn.
6. Add 1/2 cup of wine and deglaze the pot for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, mushrooms, and peppers if you are using them. Add 1/2 cup of water and gently stir to mix the ingredients. Let it come to boil.
7. At this point, taste the sauce. You must adjust it to suit your taste by adding either soy, sugar, or water. You may also need to add a bit more water to just barely cover the chicken and eggs.
8. Add eggs and turn heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Don't cook too long or the chicken will get stringy.
You can serve the chicken now (skim excess fat) with plenty of rice. Or turn off the heat and let it cool. Refrigerate overnight and skim off fat from the surface. To serve, bring to a boil to warm chicken and eggs thoroughly. For the brussel sprouts, serve warm or at room temperature. Divide among four bowls (or serve it all out of one big bowl), top with the dressing to taste and cilantro leaves, and toss once or twice to coat.