One of the recipes on this blog that gets more hits than almost all the others is the ham in Coca Cola recipe I posted a couple of years ago. (Do try it if you haven’t yet – it really is good.) This means that my ears pricked right up last week when talking to a couple of Chinese friends, who were discussing a Chinese student recipe involving chicken wings, a wok and some coke; a delicious but extremely easy recipe, apparently impossible to mess up through student drunkenness.
I had a play with some bits of chicken (thighs rather than wings here, because that was what was in the fridge), soya sauce, ginger, garlic and coke when I got home, and I’m really pleased with the results. If you enjoy Malaysian cooking, with its propensity for sweetness in savoury dishes, you’ll love this; the sweetness is balanced by the dark spices from the coke, the zing of the chilli and some lovely aromatic ginger.
Make sure you buy full-fat coke, not the diet stuff. Diet cola will not work here – the sauce won’t thicken as it caramelises, and you won’t achieve any sweetness from it because the aspartame will degrade and taste revolting.
To serve two, you’ll need:
4 chicken thighs (or other chicken joints with the bone in and the skin still attached)
Coca Cola to cover
4 cloves garlic
1 piece of ginger, the size of your thumb
1 red chilli
4 tablespoons light soya sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
Pat the chicken dry with kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Leave to one side while you slice the garlic finely and cut the peeled ginger and the chilli into matchsticks.
Heat a little vegetable oil in a wok or a large pan over a high flame, and fry the chicken pieces until the skin is beginning to brown. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic, then stir fry for a minute. Pour over the cola so the chicken is covered, and add the soya sauce and the vinegar.
Put a lid partially over your wok or pan, making sure that you leave a gap at one side for plenty of steam to escape. Turn the heat down to a medium setting when the cola begins to simmer, and leave, turning the chicken occasionally, for about half an hour (depending on your pan), until the coke has reduced by more than two thirds and the liquid in the pan is syrupy. Serve immediately with rice, a little chilli sauce and a sharply dressed salad.