• 1 tablespoon (15ml) canola oil or other neutral oil

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs, separated into thighs and drumsticks (about 2 1/2 pounds; 1.15kg)

  • Kosher salt

  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 2 whole fresh bay leaves (or 3 whole dried bay leaves)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) water

  • 1 cup (240ml) soy sauce

  • 1 cup (240ml) rice vinegar (see note)

In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Blot chicken dry with paper towels, then season lightly all over with salt. Seasoning with salt is important as it helps prevent the skin from sticking to the pan when you sear it.

Working in batches if necessary, add chicken pieces to pot in a single layer, skin side down, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Cook until well browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken pieces and cook until lightly brown on the second side, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns to now-empty pot and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very fragrant and garlic turns a light golden color, about 30 seconds. Add water and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add soy sauce and vinegar, return chicken pieces to pot, increase heat to high, and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and tender, about 20 minutes, turning the chicken pieces halfway through.

I like to remove the chicken from the sauce and boil it for another 10 to 15 minutes to condense the sauce a bit and eat it along with vegetables and on the chicken.

The chicken is best served after sitting overnight in the refrigerator. The chicken pieces can also be briefly broiled before serving.