The Impossible Dish

Roasted Chicken leg marinated in soy and burnt caramel marinade with dusting of spring onion slices on a sheet pan

There are few things I knew about myself. One of those things was that I don’t like sweetness in my savory dishes. In the last few years, I have sensed an evolution in the way I eat. I understand that sugar can be more than just sweetness. Sugar can be used to create a different flavor. Sugar is the secret ingredient that creates the joy in this soy burnt caramel chicken.

Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness. It is the sensation that many seem to want to avoid. The truth is bitterness as a part of the flavor palette serves a function. I explore that function in this marinade for chicken. The first time I made the soy burnt caramel chicken, I was skeptical but I had to keep going. This recipe is one that required me to have faith in my imagination.

I kept going and this many years later, I keep going with it. It is something that I created and love. By burning the sugar in this marinade, I get to explore another side of the sweetness. Burnt sugar is not a one note flavor. It has layers that can range from smoky to almost pungent. These layers become even more extraordinary when paired with the magic of soy sauce.

Soy Burnt Caramel chicken served with noodles

It is only right that I admit that this recipe is one that would give a bit of anxiety. How do you know when the sugar is ready? How do you not burn down the house? What tips do I have to make this process doable? Trust yourself and be patient. The initial step of burning is the one that is most anxiety inducing. Once you get through that phase, there is a ton of flavor banked already that makes this a walk in the park. Are you ready to make soy burnt caramel chicken?

Soy Burnt Caramel Chicken

A delicious umami experience enabled by the richness of burnt sugar with soy sauce. The marinade makes the chicken juicy and well season from the inside out.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Author: Sinmi

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp GInger Grated
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 pounds Chicken leg

Instructions

  • Pour the sugar into a dry light-colored saucepan. Start heating the sugar at medium. As the sugar begins to liquify, swirl the pan slightly to get an even melt. Let the sugar sit on the heat for about 10-15 minutes until it is a dark brown color. Turn heat to low.
  • Once sugar is dark in color, add in the soy sauce and 2 cups of water into the saucepan carefully. Start to stir mixture to encourage the seized up sugar to melt. 
  • Once sugar is dissolved into the liquid, turn of the heat. Smash the garlic and add it to saucepan with the ginger as well as the salt and chili flakes. Let the mixture cool down completely
  • Pour the soy burnt caramel marinade over the chicken.  Seal the chicken and set in a refrigerator for at least 2-4 hours. I have let the chicken marinade overnight without issues. 
  • Preheat oven to 425F. Take the chicken legs out of the liquid and pat dry before setting on a baking tray. Roast in the often for 20-25 minutes.

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