• Sticky Spicy Glazed Chicken with Root Beer


Sticky Spicy Glazed Chicken with Root Beer

By Andrew Zimmern

I was making a classic take on a version of Chinese three-cup chicken. I was in a duck camp, and wanted to braise the dark quarters from birds we had shot and serve them with rice. I had all the stuff I needed except some sweeteners, so I changed some things up and added a can of root beer, skipped the sesame oil and started something new. In my head, I thought the botanical nature of the soda fit really well with the traditional 5 spice flavors, and since I make Dr. Pepper glazed chicken and Coca-Cola roasted fresh ham, I was pretty confident it would work out. Well, it was stellar.

I tweaked this recipe a bunch, and made it even better. So here you go.

A couple of notes:

  • The toasted rapeseed (canola) oil is one of many secrets to great Chinese cooking, it imparts a delicate light charred flavor to any dish and is a sturdy oil for stir-frying, I get mine from Mala Market.
  • I use tsin tsin chiles or others I get from Mala Market. Dried arbols are a great substitute and I have never been to a supermarket that doesn’t carry them. Leaving chiles whole gives the dish warmth. Crushing them up makes it spicy.
  • I get my five-year-old aged black vinegar at Mala Market too.
  • Don’t skim the oil/fat from the pan after browning the bird. During all the simmering you want it to emulsify into the sauce. It’s superb when you serve that over the rice.

Sticky Spicy Glazed Chicken with Root Beer


  • 6-8 pieces of fresh natural chicken, washed and well dried
  • 3 tablespoons of toasted rapeseed oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2 inch lengths, plus more reserved for garnish
  • One 6-inch piece of daikon radish, cubed into about golfball size pieces
  • 4 carrots, cut in 2-inch lengths
  • 8 shallots, trimmed and peeled
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted and crushed Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 whole dried chiles
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise buds
  • One 4-inch piece of ginger, peeled, cut into thin slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, get a good one, all-natural and aged
  • 1 can of root beer
  • 1/3 cup Shaoxing or sake
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese aged black vinegar


Get a large pan and brown chicken pieces on both sides in the toasted rapeseed oil. Add the vegetables to the pan.

Browned chicken

Add the liquids and seasonings. Bring to a simmer and lower heat to maintain a strong simmer/low boil. Cook for 25 minutes.

Root beer chicken process

Turn chicken pieces and shuffle vegetables around. Cook for 25 minutes more, turning heat down to a strong simmer.

Place chicken skin-side up on top of the vegetables. Cook for 10-12 minutes or so more until sauce is glazy — don’t burn your sauce!

Turn chicken in the glazy sauce, platter it all up and serve family style or serve directly into bowls as I did the other day.

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