Mirin can be substituted with rice wine vinegar, which is also sweetly tart – just add a pinch of sugar to the vinegar. If you want to experiment with Shaoxing cooking wine, keep in mind that it usually contains salt so that it can be sold as a condiment – which means it should be used with discretion when combined with other salty ingredients such as soy.
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C. Make sure the chicken is well rinsed and dry, then rub it all over with a pinch of salt, pepper and olive oil. Place the spring onions, garlic, ginger and lemon in the stomach cavity, tie the drumsticks together (if desired) then put the chicken – breast side up – on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Pour about 200ml water into the bottom of the pan (see tip); make sure it doesn’t touch the chicken itself and roast for 45 minutes.
2 Beat the soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil together. Remove the chicken from the oven and baste all over with the sauce. Bake for another 15 minutes. Baste again and bake for another 15 minutes until deliciously golden-brown and cooked through. Then let the chicken rest for a few minutes.