I think most people will know this famous “xia jiang jib (虾酱鸡） or Har Jeong Gai or prawn paste chicken. It is such a welcoming dish in the Tze Char stores and quite an famous fried chicken dish. Due to its popularity and the fact I like it too, I am learning to prepare at home. I have tried many recipes in the internet and I should say I failed rather miserably. Either it is too stinky or too salty. When I buy the premix flour from the supermarket, some how or another , it just doesn’t work for me. It is salty and the batter did not coat well with the meat. Most of the time, there is no crispiness since batter cannot coat properly.
The more I read about the recipes in the net, the more I am confused.. Some insisted the use of prawn paste from Hong Kong either sold locally in a bottle or those directly imported from Hong Kong… I bought one bottle, I tried once and I threw away the whole bottle. Though it is smooth, such stinky “aroma” and saltiness does not fit in any dishes that I cooked, not even to fry Kangkong belachan.
I have Google Chinese website if this dish originate from China, it may be but definitely not a common dish. There is a small mention that this dish originate from Shandong province but I am unsure why there are miserable Chinese recipes in the websites. It was mentioned: 炸虾酱鸡块， 属鲁菜菜系，主要原料有虾酱、鸡肉等，鸡块金黄色光亮，外焦里嫩，虾酱鲜味浓厚。Source: http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E7%82%B8%E8%99%BE%E9%85%B1%E9%B8%A1%E5%9D%97) Those Chinese recipes are all local Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese bloggers but not China blogger. I posted in Hong Kong Facebook Group, hardly any one heard of this Har Jeong Gai and that really surprised me.. Yes, they do have har jeong and I have seen it in one of the Hong Kong Islands but it is not commonly used in their daily cuisines.
Out of curiosity, I Google belachan chicken, the Malay word of prawn paste. Well, it was mentioned that Penang was famous for its Belachan chicken. Some blogger claims that it is a reinvention of wheel by using local ingredients and consider that it is another recipe… I am getting more confused now, Har Jeong Gai is not belachan chicken..
Is it not Har Jeong = Belachan = 虾酱 = terasi – prawn paste? They are all classified by Wiki under the category of fermented prawn paste.. Well they may be slight difference in the production process and in different forms (wet or dry), but they are all prepared using the same ingredients and process, that is shrimps and fermentation. In the event that the original recipe may use the authentic sticky prawn paste from Hong Kong or China, is there such a need to really used that imported Har Jeong? With these thoughts and the fact that I can’t accept the stinky prawn paste from Hong Kong, I have decided to push away all what I have read and come out with my own version using local ingredients that is familiar, cheap and common.
“Shrimp paste or shrimp sauce, is a common ingredient used in Southeast Asian and Southern Chinese cuisine. It is known as terasi (also spelled trassi, terasie) in Indonesian, ngapi (ငါးပိ [ŋəpḭ]) in Burmese, kapi (กะปิ [kapìʔ]) inThai, Khmer (កាពិ [kaapiʔ]) and Lao (ກະປິ [kapíʔ]), belacan (also spelled belachan, blachang) in Malay, mắm ruốc,mắm tép and mắm tôm in Vietnamese (the name depends on the shrimp used), bagoong alamang (also known as bagoong aramang) in Tagalog, haam ha/ha jeung in Cantonese Chinese and hom ha/hae ko (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hê-ko) in Min Nan Chinese. It is made from fermented ground shrimp mixed with salt. Some versions are in its wet form such as those in Vietnam and other versions are sun-dried and either cut into fist-sized rectangular blocks or sold in bulk. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Shrimp paste can be found in most meals in Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia,Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. It is often an ingredient in dip for fish or vegetables. “(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrimp_paste)
I definitely would not and dare not to claim that my recipe is authentic but the taste is rather close to what I have ordered. I like this way of preparation because I need not to buy a bottle of prawn paste just for this dish, not to mention this prawn paste is overly stinky and salty for me to cook other dishes..
I have tried two version, baked and deep fried version. The verdict is expected to be deep fried version which is crispier and have a much nicer golden colour that fits in the description of Har Jeong Gai above. It is not overly salty and stinky as i have tone down the usage of the prawn paste, in addition, I have added sugar to negate the saltiness.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 4-6 adult servings
- 500-600 grams of chicken mid wings
- 50 grams of belachan or belachan powder (see below)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 shallots
- 2 cm of ginger or 1 tablespoon of ginger powder
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar
- Dashes of white pepper
- 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons of red fermented bean curd juice (for colour enhancement and taste blend – optional) – 红腐乳汁
- 1/2 cup of rice flour
- 1/2 cup of self raising flour
- 1 tablespoon of belachan powder (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
- 1 egg
For belachan powder, you can pan fry the belachan until crispy and grind into powder or you can use the brand below. You can easily get it in wet market.
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Pound the belachan, ginger (if use raw ginger), shallot and garlic until fine.
- In a separate bowl, put the chicken wing, add the pounded prawn paste, white pepper, sugar , oyster sauce and red fermented bean curd juice. Stir until well combined. Let it marinate for at least 3-4 hours .
- In a bowl, put the rice flour, self raising flour, white pepper and belachan powder, stir and mix well. Take a mid wing and coat with beaten eggs. Put the mid wing into the bowl with flour, coat evenly. I prefer to use rice flour for crispier results , if you wish, you can use corn flour.
- Heat up a pot of hot oil, put the chicken wing and reduce the heat to medium. Deep fry the chicken wings until brownish. Before draining, increase the heat to high and let it stir fry another half minutes. Drain and the chicken is ready.
- For baking version, bake the chicken wing in the oven at 180 degree Celsius until crispy. Turn the chicken wing after 10 minutes of baking. Repeat the same until the crust is golden brown.
Whether Har Jeong Gai is the same as belachan chicken or not, I am totally unsure. I am also confused about the authencity of this dish. Putting all the much acclaimed ingredients aside, what I knew is this recipe taste delicious and pretty closed with those sold in the Tze char stores but no two stores have exactly the same taste.. It is crispy and I hope readers will give a chance to try this recipe. But if you strongly believed Hong Kong har jeong is the right ingredient and Har Jeong cannot be substituted by belachan , you should not try this recipe or if you try, do not have high expectation on the recipe.
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