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Chinatown Chicken

Potted Prawns

My Chinatown Chicken was inspired by Jill Dupleix's Honey Soy Quail from her marvellous book, Simple Cooking.  Over the years I have adapted the recipe somewhat and I use chicken thighs because they are so much more available.   Also see my comments in Burnished Chicken with White Wine Honey and Lemon. The thighs turn mahogany brown whilst cooking and their exotic flavour will whisk you straight to the Orient, no long haul involved.

Potted Prawns


  •  6 chicken thighs, skin on but trimmed Marinade: 

  • 2 tbsps. soy sauce (I use low salt, gluten free Kikkoman Tamari) 

  • 1 tbsp. runny honey or maple syrup 

  • 1 tbsp. seedy sweet chilli sauce  

  • 2 generous tsps. Chinese 5 spice powder 

  •  2 tbsps. sesame oil 

  • Sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds to serve 

  •  Oven 200c,  Fan 180c,  gas 6


  •  Trim away any excess chicken skin, leaving plenty on the top of the thighs.  Snip out the bone with kitchen scissors if you wish. 

  •  Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to take the thighs 

  • Roll the thighs in the marinade mixture making sure they are well coated and leave to absorb the flavours for an hour or more, best of all over night. 

  • Fit the thighs snugly in a single layer in a small roasting pan and pour over the marinade, making sure that the skin on top of the thighs is exposed. 

  •  Roast 30 minutes, then baste with the juices 

  •  Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the thighs are burnished brown and probe 74c

  •  Spoon a little of the sauce over each thigh to make them shine and sprinkle over some sesame seeds if you have them. 

  • Chinatown Chicken is good served with Shredded Mange Tout.  Again, the idea belongs to Jill Jupleix, although she suggests serving the mange tout raw, whereas I prefer them very lightly cooked to bring alive their bright green flavour. Wash, top and tail the mange tout, then shred length-ways into long match sticks.  Drop into boiling, salted water, return to the boil (which should only take half a moment) and drain immediately.  Drizzle with a teaspoon of sesame seeds to give them a shine.  A sprinkle of sesame seeds adds to the oriental feel.

Helpful Hints

Fitting boned thighs snugly into a roasting pan holds them in perky shape rather than spreading languorously like someone a little fat sprawled on a sofa.

If the thighs have blackened rather more than you wanted they will still be delicious.  Just give them a brush with a little more sesame oil for extra shine

A knob of butter whisked into a sauce just before serving makes it shine, smooths the flavour and can add a little body to it too.

This sauce has soy in it which is salty.  Generally though, please don't under-estimate how much salt contributes to good flavour during cooking.  Salt added at the end just tastes of salt.`

Click for more quick and easy chicken thigh recipes

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