Roy Choi’s excellent version of the clichéd dish has a surprise ingredient: lemon-lime soda. He uses it as a substitute for sugar. “Asian cooking folklore says that adding soda to a marinade will help tenderize meat and poultry,” says Choi. “As a chef, I know it probably does nothing. But because I want to carry on historical cooking traditions, I continue to use sodas in my marinades.”
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1 cup lemon-lime soda
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1 medium onion—1/2 grated, 1/2 thinly sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon sugar
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs with skin
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Steamed white rice and hot sauce, for serving
How to Make It
In a bowl, mix the soda, soy sauce, vinegar, grated onion, ginger, garlic and sugar. Add the chicken; turn to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat very dry. Reserve 1 cup of the marinade. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the chicken skin side down and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil. Add the sliced onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until browned, 5 minutes. Add the reserved 1 cup of marinade; boil until slightly reduced, 2 minutes. Swirl in the butter and add the cilantro. Return the chicken and any juices to the skillet and cook until heated through, 1 minute. Serve with steamed rice and hot sauce.
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