Mom’s Best Braised Chicken with Mushrooms (小鸡炖蘑菇)

4.75 from 8 votes
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Braised Chicken with Mushroom (小鸡炖蘑菇) | omnivorescookbook.com

The braised chicken with mushrooms have a concentrated savory flavor. The broth absorbs the flavor of the chicken and dried shiitake mushroom to create a potent sauce that enhances them both. The mushrooms are the highlight of the dish, meaty and juicy, and add an earthy umami to the tender chicken.

Braised chicken with mushrooms (小鸡炖蘑菇) is a classic northern Chinese dish. The recipe originally called for a whole free range chicken, to be braised with dried mushrooms in a soy-sauce-based savory sauce. The chicken becomes flavorful and tender, but the mushrooms are the real highlight. They are so meaty in texture and absorb tons of flavor from the chicken. It is a winter dish but my family enjoys it year round.

If you’ve been following Omnivore’s Cookbook for a while, you might have noticed I have very similar collection of braised dishes, like the braised duck and braised pork ribs. The truth is, my parents are from the northern part of China, and they cook this type of braised dish all the time. The braising sauces might look very similar to each other – a savory and strong brown sauce with soy sauce as its base. But the key is the ratio and combination of other spices.

By adjusting the spices according to the type of protein, the sauce will create a customized umami that brings out the deliciousness of the ingredients. Plus, you shouldn’t taste the flavor of any single spice in the finished dish, because everything works together as parts of a whole. On the other hand, if you’re not careful, you might find the finished dish tasting overwhelmingly of star anise, for example. This is a result we always try to avoid.

Braised-Chicken-and-Mushroom-4

The Art of Chinese Braising

As a general guide, remember the following tips when cooking Chinese braised dishes. (This considers about 1.5 kilograms / 3 pounds of meat or poultry).

  • Add plenty of Shaoxing wine. It won’t affect the result too much if you add a bit more.
  • Add plenty of fresh ginger and green onion. A thumb-size ginger is generally enough for cooking 1.5 to 2 kilograms (3 to 4 pound) chicken. The amount of green onion is more flexible, about 4 to 8 pieces of white part.
  • Be careful with the soy sauce. We usually use the combination of light soy sauce, which add flavors, and dark soy sauce, which adds color. Don’t add too much of either soy sauce, otherwise the sauce with end up tasting like it. You should only add a bit of dark soy sauce (1 to 2 teaspoons is usually enough), otherwise the dish will turn very dark and won’t look appetizing.
  • Always be stingy with star anise and clove. In most cases, one whole star anise star is enough. Its flavor is extremely strong and will easily stand out.

Braised Chicken with Mushroom (小鸡炖蘑菇) | omnivorescookbook.com

A Few Things To Note

  • Try to use bone-in cuts of chicken. A whole free range chicken is preferable, but you can use wings, legs, and/or thighs. Ask the butcher to chop the legs and thighs into smaller sized pieces so they absorb more flavor during braising.
  • Adjust braising time according to the type of chicken. A free range chicken might take more than 1 hour to braise, while a typical young chicken will start to fall apart and dry up after 50 minutes. Check the doneness of the chicken closely after 30 minutes to avoid overcooking.
  • Make the braising sauce a bit salty, because the braising time is relatively short and the chicken won’t have enough time to absorb all the flavor.
  • Thicken the sauce until it can coat the chicken, so the taste of the chicken will be just right.
  • Try to use dried shiitake in this recipe. If you don’t like dried mushrooms, you can use fresh ones. The dish will still be super delicious, but its flavor character will change.

This recipe is one of the recipes from my Mom’s Best collection. The collection contains family recipes handed down from my grandma to my dad, then to my mom. Now, the torch has been passed to me. In this same series, you can also find Mom’s best beef stew with tendon, Mom’s best braised pork spare ribs, Mom’s best braised duck leg and Mom’s best braised pork feet.

Braised Chicken with Mushroom (小鸡炖蘑菇) | omnivorescookbook.com

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Mom’s Best Braised Chicken with Mushrooms

Mom’s Best Braised Chicken with Mushrooms (小鸡炖蘑菇)

4.75 from 8 votes
The braised chicken with mushrooms have a concentrated savory flavor. The broth absorbs the flavor of the chicken and dried shiitake mushroom to create a potent sauce that enhances them both. The mushrooms are the highlight of the dish, meaty and juicy, and add an earthy umami to the tender chicken.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place dried shiitake mushrooms in a medium-sized bowl and add water to cover. Rehydrate mushrooms until soft, 20 to 30 minutes (or according to instructions). Set aside.
  • Wash chicken carefully with tap water. Transfer to a large pot and add water to cover chicken. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Continue to cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Use a large ladle to skim the foam from the surface. Try to leave the oil on top, however, because it will add a nice flavor to the dish later.
  • Transfer the chicken to a wok (or dutch oven). Pour in chicken broth until it almost completely covers the chicken. Add Shaoxing wine, ginger, and star anise. After bringing to a boil, simmer covered over low heat for 20 minutes.
  • While braising the chicken, prepare the mushrooms and other ingredients. Wash the shiitake mushrooms carefully with running water.
  • Add green onion, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the wok. Use a spatula to scoop the chicken from the bottom and mix the ingredients. Add rehydrated shiitake mushrooms and place tea tree mushrooms (or whichever type you’ve chosen) on top. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn back to low heat and simmer covered until chicken turns soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Check the chicken every 10 minutes, scooping from the bottom with a spatula to avoid burning.
  • Taste a small piece of chicken and some sauce, adding salt if necessary. If you want to serve the chicken by itself, the chicken should taste slightly plain now, because the saltiness will increase once the sauce is reduced. If you want to serve the chicken over steamed rice, add a bit of salt until it tastes just right. In this case, I added 1/4 teaspoon of salt to get a slightly salty dish in the end.
  • Turn to high heat and boil uncovered. Use a spatula to scoop the chicken from the bottom constantly, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the chicken, 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer chicken to a plate and serve warm over rice.
  • Store the leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 199g, Calories: 374kcal, Carbohydrates: 5.4g, Protein: 25.7g, Fat: 28.4g, Saturated Fat: 8.1g, Cholesterol: 134mg, Sodium: 610mg, Potassium: 148mg, Fiber: 0.8g, Sugar: 2.1g, Vitamin A: 1IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 1mg, Iron: 7mg
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Tina Jui says:

    Yum, this looks delicious! Chicken and mushrooms are always so good together. I’ve never thought to mix dark and light soy sauce before. Thanks for the tip!

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Tina, thanks for stopping by! Yes, the chicken and mushrooms never go wrong! It’s common in Chinese cooking to blend some dark soy sauce into the light one to add color. You can use light soy sauce alone, but color of the dish won’t be so great but it won’t affect the taste so much.

  2. Sarah says:

    This dish is so yummy! There is a Chinese cafe by my parents’ house, and we always order this dish when we are eating at that cafe. Thanks for sharing this classic, glad to know how to make it now! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    The title alone makes this a “MUST TRY” for me! I’m pinning this right now to my “ABSOLUTELY MUST TRY” board so I don’t lose this!! I really love the flavours you use Maggie 🙂 Can I ask what the texture of the chicken is supposed to be like? Fall apart tender?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Nagi, I do consider this one a must-try 🙂
      For the texture, I like to cook it until the meat just start to fall apart. I found it’s the time that the chicken is both tender and moist. The fall apart chicken is tender and flavorful too, but it will lost some moist. After that, it will get chewy again!

  4. Michelle @ Healthy Recipe Ecstasy says:

    Oh wow! I wish my family had a best collection of recipes to hand down through the generations. This looks amazing. I know I say this all the time, but I so love the way you write your posts and detail out things to note and tips. It makes me happy every time!

  5. Robyn says:

    5 stars
    Each time I come to your blog, I feel like I’m taking a cooking class, Maggie. I love that I learn something new each time. I love the chemistry aspect of cooking and your combinations and measurement lessons are so important to the finished dish and distinguished flavours. Thanks for another great recipe!

  6. Kimi Wei says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe, thank you. 2 questions. 1 – sometimes I have kosher chicken on hand and it comes pre-brined. Would that texture and taste be unpleasant for that dish? 2 – About how many medium sized dried shiitake mushrooms are 1.2 oz?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Kimi, I think you can cook with kosher chicken without any problem. Just make sure to add salt after tasting the broth, so you won’t over season it. As for the mushrooms, you could add a handful (maybe 10 to 15 for medium sized shiitake mushrooms). Happy cooking and hope the dish turns out great!

  7. DS says:

    3 stars
    Is the chicken broth the stock in which you boiled the chicken? I have eaten one with lotus seeds and pork sausage so nice. I will try it soon

    • Maggie says:

      Back in China we usually braise the chicken in water (since chicken stock is precious ingredient). We always use bone-in cuts so the broth will end up very flavorful, just like you make a quick broth from scratch. However you can replace the water by using chicken stock to make the finished broth even tastier.
      I believe the stew will turn out very good if you add lotus seeds and pork sausage in it 🙂
      Happy cooking and hope your dish turns out great!

  8. yvonneseah says:

    5 stars
    Thank you, Maggie. This is by far the best recipe. My girls loved it!

    • Maggie says:

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the dish! It is one of our family recipes and I’m so happy that you love it as well 🙂

  9. Nghia says:

    Very nice!

    I added Cloud ear fungus and dried lily flower because i only had shiitake mushrooms. My boys suggested i should add Tofu skin next time .

  10. John F. says:

    Hi!

    This recipe looks great but I have a question because I may be missing something; why move from one pot to another in step 3?

    Thanks,
    John

  11. jiajia says:

    5 stars
    I omitted the star anise and this dish tastes so good. thankyou

  12. Susi V says:

    5 stars
    Very delicious and easy to make. I have made this dish twice in two weeks for a wintry midweek dinner with rice and some stir fried greens. I used chicken wings the last time and find they work really well – lots of flavour, great texture and easy to turn into bite sized pieces without splintery bones being involved. My only “tweak” was adding some fried cubes of tofu at the same time as the mushrooms. Yum!!

  13. Susi V says:

    Mmmmm-mmm-mm!! I just had a bowl of last night’s leftovers for lunch and it is so yummy. I have made this a few times since discovering it, as an easy and satisfying weeknight meal with rice and some simple green veg. It is homey and simple yet complex in flavors, and satisfying without being overly rich. I like to add some chunks of fried beancurd to this dish to absorb more of this marvelous sauce. I tend to skip the first step of cooking then transferring the chicken and the result is still great. Your mom’s recipes rock, and so does your blog. See you again soon!

  14. Brando says:

    You mention that you prefer the chicken to be in boned-in during braising. Is it possible to break down a whole chicken and separate the meat and the bones. Then, put everything into the braising liquid and then remove the bones at the very end? I know texture is a very key element to this dish but I was wondering if there was a way to adapt this recipe to a Western palate.

    Also, how salty should the braising sauce be. You note that the braising sauce should be on the saltier side, but I’m assuming when I reduce this sauce down, it’s going to be even saltier when it coats the chicken. This leads me to believe there is a tendency to have it overly salty.

    Can’t wait to try this! My mom is from Harbin.

    • Maggie says:

      I wouldn’t break down a chicken then debone it. The chicken will be cooked faster if it’s not attached to the bones, so it will overcook.
      For an easier approach, I would use bone-in thigh and/or drumsticks for the braising. If you prefer boneless meat, I would use dark meat and keep the pieces rather large (such as boneless thigh without cutting, or cut to very large pieces), and you will need to slightly reduce the cooking time so the chicken doesn’t dry out.
      For the sauce, the best way is to adjust it at the end of the cooking. You can simply taste a small piece of chicken coated with the sauce, and add more salt if needed.

  15. Shannon says:

    5 stars
    This is a good recipe. One that I will go to again. I used a big package of fresh shiitake cut up into slices. Since I have electric stove I couldn’t use my wok. So I used my cast iron pot with salted water to cover my boneless chicken that I boiled everything together. Was heavy on the wine and liked the bitter sour kick. Added chile powder to taste, some Chinese five spice since I found the dish to be missing something but was already good as is, about two tablespoons of ginger people’s minced ginger since I really like ginger, some sesame seed oil for extra fat, and splash of zhenjiang vinegar to help use it up. Boiled chicken and spices for 45 minutes then added mushrooms. It was a family pleaser. Leftovers tasted even better. I know I altered it a bit but the dish was good as is I just like a little more kick.

  16. Aryianna says:

    Great recipe — must the right amount of ginger and anise.

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