|nutritional information (per serving)|
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|amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Saturated Fat 11g||53%|
|dietary fiber 1g||3%|
|Total sugar 19g|
|Vitamin C 5 mg||23%|
|Calcium 78 mg||6%|
|iron 4 mg||20%|
|Potassium 896 mg||19%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) indicates how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general nutritional advice.|
(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)
Shoyu chicken is a Hawaiian lunch staple characteristic of Hawaii's unique and diverse cultural makeup. Due to the island chain's location almost halfway between the West Coast of the United States and East Asia, Hawaii's food culture is heavily influenced by Asian cuisine, particularly Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino cuisines.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, British and American colonizers imported and exploited contract laborers from these and other countries to staff Hawaii's fruit and sugar plantations. Some returned to their home countries after their contracts expired, but many stayed and their descendants still reside in Hawaii.
What ingredients does shoyu chicken contain?
The origin story of shoyu chicken has been lost over time, but it bears a strong resemblance to Japanese teriyaki chicken and Filipino chicken adobo. Teriyaki chicken is cooked in a sweet and salty mixture of soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Chicken adobo is prepared much like shoyu chicken, with the notable addition of cane vinegar to the cooking liquid, giving it a sharper flavor profile.
Shoyu is Japanese soy sauce, and you can use your favorite brand for this dish, although Kikkoman and Aloha Shoyu are both good options. The other main ingredients of chicken shoyu are sugar, scallions, garlic, ginger and chicken thighs.
Which chicken cut is suitable for shoyu chicken?
Chicken thighs work best in this recipe, but chicken breasts could also be used. Because they contain more fat and collagen than chicken breasts, chicken thighs become tender and juicy when cooked, adding a silky texture to the sauce. Normally the chicken skin stays on when braising.
How to optimize shoyu chicken
Of course, there are as many variations of shoyu chicken as there are people who prepare it. As you learn to prepare the dish, you can adjust the ingredients to your liking, adding more or less sugar, ginger, and garlic. Some cooks also like to brown or grill the chicken thighs after braising, although this is purely optional.
How to serve shoyu chicken
After the chicken is braised, it is placed on a plate and just enough cornstarch is added to the sauce to thicken it without making it too thick or heavy. Some prefer a more runny sauce and omit the cornstarch altogether, or simply boil the sauce to reduce it. Keep in mind that reducing the sauce makes the sauce saltier. For a delicious lunch experience, serve shoyu chicken with Hawaiian-style white rice and macaroni salad.
“Absolutely delicious and the ingredient list belies the flavors and the simple method. The shoyu sauce is savory and sweet and has a good balance between these two flavors. The pungency of the flavors softens as it cooks, but adds a pleasant freshness (ginger) and spiciness (garlic) to the finished sauce. Flavors from the stovetop method are retained during cooking, but completely dissipate in the instant pot, but there was no difference in taste.” – Spruce Eats Test Kitchen
4 spring onions
2/3 Cup unsalted chicken broth
1/2 Cup shoyu (like Kikkoman)
1/3 cup (74 grams) packed up light brown sugar
6 cloves Garlicsmash
1 (2 inches) Piece Gingerpeel and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
1 cup plus 3 tablespoon Waterdivided
4 with bones and skin chicken thighs (around 2 1/4 Pound), excess skin and fat removed
3 tablespoon cornstarch
Boiled white riceserve
Gather the ingredients.
clean spring onions; Thinly slice dark green parts at an angle and reserve for garnish. Thinly slice the remaining white and light green parts; Place in a 10 to 11 inch deep skillet.
Add the broth, shoyu, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and 1 cup water to the pan and stir gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Place the chicken thighs in the pan, skin-side down. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a low level. Cover and simmer undisturbed over low heat until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes, turning chicken skin-side up halfway through cooking. Remove from stove.
Place chicken on a serving platter. Loose tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Skim off as much fat as possible from the broth in the pan and discard.
In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and the remaining 3 tablespoons water.
Stir the cornstarch mixture into the broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from stove. Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken and garnish with the remaining spring onions. Serve immediately with rice and additional sauce if desired.
How to make shoyu chicken in the Instant Pot
- Follow steps 1-3 as directed, combining ingredients in a 6-quart instant saucepan rather than a skillet. Add chicken thighs to broth and turn to coat; Arrange the chicken skin-side up in a single layer.
- Cover the stove with the lid and latch it. Turn the steam release handle to the “SEAL” position. Select the MANUAL/PRESSURE COOKING setting. Select HIGH pressure for 15 minutes. (It takes 10 to 12 minutes for the cooker to reach pressure before it starts cooking.)
- Gently turn the steam release handle to the PRIME position and allow the steam to escape completely (the float valve will drop). (This will take 2 to 3 minutes.) Remove the lid from the stove. Press CANCEL. Place the chicken skin-side up on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Skim and discard as much of the fat as possible from the broth in the saucepan.
- For grilling, preheat the oven with the grate about 10 inches from the heat source. While the oven is preheating, select SAUTE on the HIGH/MORE temperature setting; Whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 3 tablespoons of water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture with the broth in the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 1 to 2 minutes. Press CANCEL. Cover the stove with a lid to keep it warm.
- Roast chicken in preheated oven until chicken skin blisters and is beginning to brown in spots, about 4 minutes, being careful not to burn. Serve as directed.
Note: Times, instructions and settings may vary by cooker brand or model.
- “Shoyu” is the generic term for Japanese-style soy sauce. The Aloha brand is very popular with many Hawaiians, but Kikkoman soy sauces are among the most popular in the world and are available at most major grocery stores. The bottle may not say “Shoyu,” but you can still use it in this recipe. Note that we used regular non-reduced sodium shoyu in this recipe.
- In this recipe, we stew our chicken thighs; You therefore want the broth to reach at least halfway or more onto the chicken thighs. A 10- to 11-inch skillet works perfectly for this, but a pan that's too large may not have enough liquid.
- To brown the chicken thighs before braising, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil in skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add skin-side down chicken; Cook undisturbed until skin is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and drain off the drippings. Add the broth, scraping the bottom to loosen any browned bits and proceed with the recipe as directed. Start checking the chicken for doneness about 10 minutes early.
- Alternatively, you can also crisp up the skin by grilling after cooking. To roast the chicken thighs after braising, place them on a baking sheet. For grilling, preheat the oven with a rack about 6 inches from the heat source. Roast the chicken thighs for 3 to 5 minutes, until the desired color is reached, rotating the pan 180 degrees on the rack halfway through. Keep an eye on the chicken thighs so they don't brown too much.
How to store it
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days.
- Once the cooked chicken thighs have cooled, they can be placed in a freezer-safe large resealable plastic bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, and then frozen. I recommend putting it in a second large resealable plastic bag for added protection. Thaw frozen chicken in a 13×9″ pan (to catch any liquid) in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. To reheat, microwave the chicken thighs on high for 2 minutes or until warmed through.
The shoyu mixture can be whipped up and refrigerated overnight to be ready to use the next day. You can also trim your chicken the day before so it can go straight into the pot if needed.