It is cheap and indispensable in most local kitchens.
Soya sauce is one of the most widely used condiments in this part of the world, and no wonder, for it is one of the world's oldest.
Made by fermenting a paste that includes the key ingredient of soya beans, it originated in China more than 2,000 years ago.
It is used to enhance the flavour of many types of food, including chicken, fish, soup and even pasta.
Today, it is probably most well known in Chinese cooking as it plays a starring role in many popular dishes, including the classic soya sauce chicken, said celebrity chef Eric Teo.
Soya chicken breast on pan-fried yam cake with grilled vegetables
• 2 pcs chicken breast
• 1 cooked yam cake roll
• 6 pcs fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
• 1 brinjal, sliced thinly lengthwise
• 1 medium-sized red bell pepper, cut into wedges
• 12 pcs spring onion, cut into 8cm strips, starting from the white part
• 2 tbs canola oil, or as needed
• A pinch of sea salt
• 1 litre of water
• 60ml dark soya sauce
• 40ml light soya sauce
• 2 pcs star anise
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 100g of rock sugar
• 50ml Chinese wine
• 1 tbs sesame oil
• Cornstarch, as needed
• Bring the braising sauce ingredients to a boil in a large pot.
• Reduce the heat so that the mixture is simmering, and place the chicken breasts in the pot.
• Cook for about 20 minutes at low heat or until the chicken is cooked.
• Remove the cooked chicken breasts from the pot and slice them.
• Strain the sauce, then bring the liquid to boil. Thicken by adding some corn starch. Set aside.
• Slice the cooked yam cake roll into 2cm-thick pieces. Fry them in canola oil in a non-stick pan over high heat until they are brown and crispy.
• Place the vegetables and mushrooms on a hot griddle or in a frying pan with the remaining canola oil over medium-high heat. Season with sea salt.
• Arrange the ingredients on a plate, scoop some sauce over them and serve warm.
• Energy: 228 kcal
• Total fat: 10.5g
• Saturated fat: 2g
• Cholesterol: 29mg
• Carbohydrate: 21g
• Protein: 12g
• Fibre: 2g
• Sodium: 885mg
When shopping in supermarkets, look out for soya sauce with the Healthier Choice Symbol, as this contains less salt than regular varieties, says the Health Promotion Board.
"Personally, I love soya sauce for its taste," said Mr Teo, who owns food consultancy firm ET Culinary Arts. However, he noted that while soya sauce can be used in place of salt, it should still be consumed in moderation. Doing so helps one to prevent and control hypertension.
In this recipe, the chicken is paired with yam cake and grilled vegetables for a healthier yet tasty version of the traditional soya sauce chicken dish.
In addition, Mr Teo used breast meat, which is leaner than most other cuts of the chicken.
If you dislike breast meat, which can be dry, fret not. This recipe requires the chicken to be braised over a simmering soya sauce stock, which keeps the meat tender.
At the same time, the braising process allows the distinct soya sauce flavour to be thoroughly infused into the meat.
But the yam cake does have to be fried in order to achieve a crunchy texture. Try to heat the oil first before frying the yam - this shortens the cooking time which, in turn, means less oil being absorbed by the yam. Mr Teo said: "The yam cake complements the taste of the soya sauce chicken, and provides a good source of complex carbohydrates and soluble dietary fibre that keeps you feeling full for longer."
Poon Chian Hui