The main ingredients that define the stew are garlic and more importantly salted soy beans, also known as tauchu. The beans are crushed with a mortar and pestle into a thick paste then sauteed in oil with the garlic. I grew up using the Yeo’s brand of salted soy beans, which can be found in most Asian grocery stores. Because the beans are already salty on its own, very little if any salt is used in this recipe. Here’s what it looks like.
A little goes a long way here so one jar lasts a really long time as long as you keep it in the fridge. As a side note, you don’t really need a mortar and pestle to crush the beans down. They’re soft enough to use the back of a spoon to smush while in the pan.
On to some tips. It’s important not to use too much dark/sweet soy sauce which was taught to me to ‘add the color’ to the stew. It shouldn’t be too dark but a nice earthy tone. The potatoes double up as a filler and thickener once they break down a little. Keep a nice balance between having just enough of the potatoes crumble down and keeping some intact. A trick is to cut the potato into large cubes so that even after crumbling, there is still enough of it left.
Finally there’s a third special ingredient that balances out the taste: sugar. Without it, the stew would be way too salty so a nice spoonful of sugar marries the flavor well. Just a spoonful of sugar makes the chicken stew go down! In the most delicious waaaay…Yes I did just do that.Print