Almost Perfect Chinese Roast Chicken

I luurrrve Chinese Roast Chicken. It has something to do with the smokey, salty-sweet soy sauce flavor on the skin and the burst of juiciness when you bite into the smooth succulent meat of the chicken thigh that might drip onto your chin and all over your plate. Whoa… I am starting to salivate just typing that. 

I have been so bogged down lately and my Air Fryer has been in hibernation since the Chinese New Year in February. Well, not just my AF, actually, but my kitchen has been quiet. So…, one evening, by some correct positioning of the stars and planets, I had some time on hand and I had some chicken drumsticks in the freezer. I made these as I was really inspired by so many AF recipes on my Newsfeed lately.

This was inspired my one of my super-talented friend, who is a mom to 3 lovely kids. God knows how she manages to cook all these delicious dishes. I give my hats off to all the Mommies of the World. I am a Mom, I know…

This recipe is indeed a surprise to me, as it uses only very basic ingredients (I like…) that most Asian kitchens will have. But the resulting flavors are so good that you will think this must be some secret, hand-me-down-family-recipe that will take a week to marinate the chicken or hours to bake or roast. I have never bothered to search for the recipe as I just assumed it would be difficult.

When I saw that this takes only less than 30 minutes to make and it looks exactly even better than the shiny, glossy roasted chicken that you get from those hawker center food stalls, I had to try this.

There were no exact measurements in the recipe that I was referring to. It was a lot of gut feel here when I was preparing the marinating sauce. I depended on how dark it looked and how much I could smell the sesame oil and abalone sauce. Worry not, I’ve made these delicious things a few times and am very happy with the final amount to use. Do skip to the end of this post for the recipe immediately. ;)

I used whole chicken legs and they were quite large, as you shall see this in the picture below. Sorry, I didn’t weigh the leg. I bought the largest chicken legs from the stall in the wet market.

I’d recommend that you use a big and sturdy zip lock bag for the marinating so that the chicken gets marinated evenly. I used a rectangle food container and fortunately it turned out great too. J The secret is to let it marinate in the fridge for a sufficient amount of time.

My first attempt was done in a pretty rushed manner and I only had 30 minutes of marination time. The result was tasty skin, but somewhat bland meat.  The second time I AF-ed the legs, they were in the fridge for a good 3 days. I was worried the leg that was on the top would not be as flavorful since it was not in contact with the sauce. It turned out exactly the same. Equally yummy!

You will be shocked at how much oil that dripped out from the air frying. The air fried chicken legs looks so good and tasted even better. It was indeed “Almost” Perfect! I say that because I have not found the way to make the skin even crispier.

3 large whole chicken legs
1 Tablespoon Abalone sauce
1 Tablespoon Osyter sauce
1 Tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil (Optional. You can remove or reduce the amount if there is a lot of smoke during the cooking process.)
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (I used honey in the first time and as expected the skin over-browned slightly. With brown sugar the color was really nice!)
A dash of pepper

1.       Wash the chicken legs well and wipe dry with kitchen towel.
2.  Marinate with all the ingredients in the fridge for a minimum 4 hours or overnight for a deeper flavor.
3.       Preheat the PAF to 180°C.
4.     Reduce heat to 170°C and AF for 10 minutes.
5.    Reduce temperature to 150°C and AF for another 10 minutes. **Adjust time according to the size of the chicken legs.
6.       Remove the legs from the AF basket and place on to a plate. Take a piece of aluminium foil and loosely cover the legs and let the chicken “rest” for about 10 minutes. This will make the meat even juicier. 
7.       You can alternatively bake this in a oven. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven at 190°C for 50-55 minutes or until juices run clear. Time will be shorter with chicken wings, perhaps 40 minutes or less.


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