When I was in Taipei I meandered through the night market like a good tourist does. There were mountains of shaved ice with all sorts of red beans and jellied goodies. There was stir-fried squid, braised pig ears, onion pancakes and…wait for it…Taiwanese fried chicken. The crispy thin crust with a peppery seasoning along with that juicy, succulent inside had me freakin’ hooked. I had it bad.
I gobbled basket after basket of those super hot, Asian five-spices nuggets along with copious amounts of Taiwan beer (Yes, that’s the brand). I knew I had to take this taste back to the States at some point in my near future but, by the time I came back to the U.S. these little chicken nuggets had already made their way through the interwebz. You can find the recipes in English, Chinese, Thai and even a handful of other languages. They are just that good. There are plenty of decent Taiwanese fried chicken recipes online but who are you going to trust them or me? Me of course!
Now there are only two parts to this little Taiwanese snack food; the marinade and the fry. If you don’t have confidence in bringing your peanut oil to 325-350º F, stop now and turn back. There are plenty of easier recipes that don’t involve a fry-daddy, a wok or the likes. If you want a real treat, then please proceed.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken Marinade
Take the marinade and marry the chicken in it for about six hours. If you are in a hurry, use full strength soy sauce, boil the marinade for 5 minutes, and then let it cool to room temperature. Marinate for a couple hours and hope for the best.
I do not like to over-season my proteins. That’s a pet peeve of mine and I hate it when restaurants do this. It’s almost as if they are covering up the butters, oils and their mistakes. There will be plenty of chances to add salts and sugars to any meal including this one much later. Keep this stage in your recipe light and friendly. Remember, we will also create a dipping sauce or a dusting of salty seasoning during the plating. I want to taste that succulent chicken – really taste it.
Here is where the magic happens. Yes, magic. Life is magic and so is this fried chicken recipe. Let’s dredge those chicken bits in a cup of tapioca starch. Go piece-by-piece so that they all don’t clump together. This is really important.
Fah-rye those little nugs at 325º F for about a minute. I do this in a wok but, you can do it however you like. The wok for me is safe. The big ‘ole edges keep me safe. Now, pull one of the little nugs really quick. Cut it in half. Is it white, slightly pink, raw?
- White = it’s done already. Pull the chicken immediately and put them on a cold plate and some paper. Hope for the best
- Slightly Pink = Perfect. Pull the fried chicken and let it rest/cook.
- Raw = leave the chicken in for another 30 seconds and repeat from above.
When you are done dust those juicy bits of chicken with some hot pepper powder (cayenne, smoke paprika, sichuan) or dip those littl’ nugs in some black vinegar.
- About 1 lb. of air chilled, free range chicken thighs bone out.
- 1/8 cup Tamari light soy sauce
- 2 tsp. Chinese sherry
- 1 tsp. agave
- 1 tsp. minced garlic/ginger puree
- 1 big pinch freshly ground 5 spice powder
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- 1 cup of tapioca starch
- For Taiwanese Fried Chicken Recipe read the article.
I serve this with a little Taiwanese crushed cucumber, tomato, cilantro, garlic and toasted sesame seed (for a salad). I use Amino acids for this salad rather than the traditional soy sauce and a little sesame oil. There you have it. A couple fine appetizers to wet your whistle.
Xie Xie. I’m out.