1 large wok or stainless steel saucepan (A wok is recommended.)
1 stainless steel Chinese ladle or spatula (Your preference.)
1 large, shallow container
1 long-handled strainer or "spider"
3 lbs of chicken drumsticks (Preferably free-range organic.)
(First cup, soy sauce mix)
1/2 cups of soy sauce
1/4 cup of superior dark soy
1/4 cup of kecap manis
1 cup of rice wine
(Third cup, reduced fat)
1/4 cup of sesame oil
3/4 cup of rice wine (additonal)
3 cups of all-purpose flour (For dredging.)
3 tbsp of Chinese five spice powder
6 cups of vegetable oil (For deep-frying.)
1 tbsp of vegetable oil (For cooking.)
3 heads of garlic
6 Thai bird chilies
A 4-inch piece of ginger root
6 green onion stalks
3 cups of Thai basil leaves
Thoroughly wash the green onions and Thai basil in cold, lightly salted water. Remove the Thai basil leaves from their stems. Discard the stems. Set the leaves aside.
Remove the roots and tips from the green onion stalks. Chop the stalks into 1-inch segments. Set aside with the Thai basil leaves.
Separate and peel the garlic cloves. Set aside.
Roughly chop the ginger root into 1/2-inch chunks. Finely chop the Thai bird chilies. Set aside.
Mix the flour and five spice powder together in the shallow container. Add the chicken drumsticks and toss until each piece of chicken is thoroughly coated. Shake the excess flour off of the drumsticks and set the drumsticks aside.
Using your wok, heat the 6 cups of vegetable oil. I don't actually use an oil thermometer, so I can't tell you the exact temperature of the oil. The heat setting I use is medium-high, and I let the oil heat for at least ten minutes. Faint wisps of smoke should come off of it. If you stick a wooden chopstick into the oil, small air bubbles should gather on the chopstick fairly quickly. You can also drop a small piece of bread into the oil, which should bubble rapidly. If the bread burns quickly, the oil is too hot. If it doesn't bubble rapidly, it's too cool.
In small batches, deep-fry the chicken and the garlic until light brown. Don't leave either ingredient in the oil too long. You're not trying to cook them, just get some nice caramelization. Strain each batch of chicken or garlic, then set aside.
If you don't like deep-frying, you can also heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large, non-stick pan and brown the chicken and garlic in small batches. I like the depth of flavor deep-frying gives. Plus, we're cutting 3/4 of a cup of sesame oil from the classic recipe. However, pan-browning the chicken and garlic is much healthier, and you'll still get most of the flavor.
Set the frying oil aside in an appropriate container to cool. Later, you can strain it and store it in an airtight vessel until the next time you need to fry something. Wipe your wok clean with a paper towel. Use chopsticks, the ladle, or a pair of tongs to hold and move the towel. Be safe.
Heat your wok on high heat for several minutes. You want the metal as hot as your stove can make it. I wouldn't recommend anything with plastic handles or a Teflon coat for this style of cooking. Add 1 tbsp of fresh vegetable oil and use the ladle to spread it around the bottom of your wok.
Once the oil starts smoking, add the ginger and chilies. Stir rapidly for a few seconds using the ladle, coating each piece with oil. Then add the 1/4 cup of sesame oil. Keep stirring the aromatics as the oil comes back up to temperature.
Once the oil begins bubbling rapidly, add the rice wine, soy sauce mixture, chicken, garlic, and enough of the water to just cover the chicken. Let the liquid come to a boil, then drop the heat to medium or medium-low and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens and reduces by half.
Gently fold in the green onions and Thai basil leaves. Let simmer for a five more minutes before removing the wok from the heat. The chicken should be falling-off-the-bone tender.
Best served with steamed rice or Chinese noodles. You'll probably end up with more sauce than you need, so freeze the leftover liquid and use for pasta at a later date.
-=Addendum 02/27/2007 at 1:09AM=-
I'm adding my simpler, classic San Bei Gi recipe to this post for my good buddy, Elmomonster. Please try them both out and decide which one you like best.
3 cloves of garlic, cleaned and minced
1 bunch of Thai Basil, stems removed
1 tbps of vegetable oil
1 cup of rice wine
1 cup of soy sauce
1 cup of sesame oil
1 chicken, chopped into one-inch pieces with bones
Heat the vegetable oil to smoking in the wok. Add the garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the rice wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, and chicken. Bring to a boil, then drop the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce reduces by at least half. Remove from heat, stir in the Thai basil leaves, and serve.