Let red-cooked chicken sit for 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.
- 1 (3 1/2-lb.) chicken, backbone removed
- 1 cup shaoxing jiu (Chinese rice wine)
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt
- 3 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1 (2") piece ginger, peeled and cut into "coins"
- 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 whole star anise
- 2 fresh green or red thai chiles, stemmed and chopped
- 1 (3") cinnamon stick
- 1 (3") piece dried tangerine peel or other citrus peel, softened in warm water
- 1⁄4 cup mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. roughly chopped Chinese rock sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. cornstarch
Using a cleaver, chop chicken into 2" bone-in pieces. In a bowl, combine chicken, shaoxing jiu, salt, scallions, and ginger. Let marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain; reserve chicken, scallions, and ginger.
Heat a 14" flat-bottomed wok over high heat. Swirl in oil and add garlic, star anise, chiles, cinnamon, and tangerine peel and cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken, scallions, and ginger and cook until lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add soy sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 1⁄2 cups water and cover; bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer, covered, until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover, add sugar, and cook until dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Stir together cornstarch with 1 tbsp. cold water in a small bowl. Raise heat to high and pour in cornstarch mixture while stirring constantly. Cook, stirring, until sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes.