If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry. This recipe can be done on a weeknight using a regular pot on the stove. My mom would make so many dishes at a time and serve the dishes family style where everyone got to help themselves. This Chinese Instant Pot Braised Chicken is inspired by my mom’s cooking. She would cook it stove top – bring it to a boil and then simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Since the blog needs more weeknight recipes, I decided to add my mom’s easy braised chicken dish to the blog.
I used drumsticks because it was on sale, but you can also use any other chicken parts like bone-in chicken thighs. You can pick boneless meat, but make sure that the skin is on for full flavour. For skin-on boneless chicken thighs, pressure cook for 8 minutes instead of the 10 in the recipe. The chicken is actually pressure cooked for a total of 12 minutes; the last one to two minutes are for adding vegetables. One minute for al-dente vegetables; I find 2 minutes is just right.
How to adapt the Instant Pot braised chicken recipe to suit your taste
My mom does not add sugar to her chicken; the sugar is optional if you are watching your sugar intake or calories. You can skip the sauteing step if you are on a time crunch even though it won’t be braising at that point. Braising is sauteing at a high heat before cooking in liquids.
The truth is, there is no “real recipe” when it comes to making this dish. As my mom says, “agak-agak” (Approximate in Malay). You can adapt how much dark soy sauce and spices to put. You can add white pepper or black pepper – this is optional. No Chinese 5-spice? No problem: use fresh or powdered ginger, garlic and soy sauce. There are so many combinations for this Chinese braised chicken recipe. For this recipe, I didn’t add any pepper but my mom usually adds pepper. You can also customize the veggies used in this recipe. Got dried shiitake mushrooms? Soak them and add them to the recipe when adding vegetables. Use what you have got on hand. Follow the Instant Pot directions and you can tweak vegetables to use whatever is in season.
For the dark soy sauce, I used the Amoy brand. You definitely do not want to use kicap manis (Sweet dark soy sauce). It is far more viscous than regular dark soy sauce. This is the only caution I would use for substituting ingredients. If you wanted to plan ahead, marinate your chicken overnight in the fridge. I did this recipe without marinating ahead and it turned out just fine.
The trick of this recipe is knowing when to start cooking your rice: start your rice the moment you finish putting your ingredients in the Instant Pot or your stove top pot. Start rinsing your jasmine rice in water and save that water for your outdoor garden. Per cup of rice, use the same cup volume of water. I cook my rice in a rice cooker since you can set and forget it. The rice cooker takes about 20 minutes to cook. The dish was ready about the same amount of time, including the 5 minute instant pressure release.
The trick of weeknight cooking is to make enough, so that you have leftovers for work the next day! If you wanted to sneak 2 more chicken drumsticks in this recipe, go for it! Oh, and there’s no need to be Julia Child and paper towel dry each drumstick before marinating them. We are marinating them in soy sauce after all.
Thicken the sauce with a cornstarch & cold water slurry. That braised dark soy sauce is delicious when served over rice. The Chinese 5-spice is the star spice in this dish.
Other one-pot weeknight meals under 40 minutes:
Make the yellow curry paste on a weekend and make this Yellow Curry Chicken (or tofu). This recipe does not do well in the Instant Pot as it gets soup-y. You need to cook the coconut milk without a lid on.
This weeknight Instant Pot beef curry takes 41 minutes in total, but is worth the extra minute.
If you are new to using the Instant Pot, Instant Pot has great tips for beginners.
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