I do not think I need to introduce this Taiwanese fried chicken, yan su ji (盐酥鸡）or literally translated as crispy salt chicken . If you have been to Taiwan, I am sure you bound to try this snack which is everywhere in the streets. If you have never been to Taiwan, even the Pasar Malam or night market in Singapore usually have a store selling this snack.
As the name implies, it is a type of crispy fried chicken nuggets and dusted with salt and spices. It can be rather addictive and a common item in the beer drinking session. The beer will wash down the saltiness of these fried chicken.
If you observed carefully, my fried chicken does not look exactly like those sold in Taiwan. There are white speck on the crust of the fried chicken but mine does not have. Well, it is not my fault, it is the fact that we do not have that type of granular sweet potatoes flour. All the brands of sweet potatoes flour in Singapore that I bought never came in granule form but starches like lotus root flour and water chestnut flour that I bought are in the granule form as in the picture below.
Because of the lack of these granule, i am unable to provide the visible effect of authentic Taiwanese fried chicken that you have eaten in Taiwan. If you can find this type of granulated sweet potatoes starches in Singapore, go ahead and buy it and let me know where you managed to buy it.
Very frankly, I have said before in other posts that I have never like using starches to coat the meat before deep frying. Using starches as a coating is usually good only when it is just prepared and hot. Once it cooled down, there is a tendency to become slightly chewy be it corn starches, sweet potatoes starches, potatoes starches, tapioca starches etc. .
While in this post, I am sharing with all a rather simple Taiwanese recipe using sweet potatoes flour, but I would advise all to use self raising flour instead. The formula will be half rice flour and half self raising flour. The rice flour will make the crust very crispy and the self raising flour will lower the hardness of the crust. I will leave the decision to readers but in my next attempt, I will surely use self raising flour instead of sweet potatoes flour.
I do not think there is any authentic recipe for this well like fried chicken. There are many stalls and everyone will claim theirs to be authentic. Every one will also have their concoction of spices and different manner of marinating the chicken. I have read up and watched many videos about the recipe and I found none is exactly similar. Some are very simple but some seems to go for the long way of preparation but everyone claimed that theirs is the crispiest and tastiest.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: About 4-6 adults
- 3 deboned drumsticks or chicken breast (preferably with skin on)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tablespoon of custard powder (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of Chinese cooking wine
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 3 cm ginger
- 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce
- 1 tablespoon of castor sugar
- 3 tablespoons of white pepper powder
- 3 tablespoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of five spice powder (optional)
- 1 cup of rice flour
- 1 cup of sweet potatoes flour or self raising flour
- 5 sprigs of Thai basil leaves
- Adequate cooking oil to deep fry the chicken
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Cut the chicken into size of about 2 cm x 6 cm stripes and put in a bowl.
- Pound the ginger and garlic to extract juices. Squeeze the ginger and garlic juices to the cut chicken, add all other marinating ingredients, stir until well combined and let it marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
- While the chicken is marinating, put the salt, five spice powder and white pepper powder in a pan. Dry fry the powder under low heat until aromatic. As you stir fry, you will note that the aroma of the white pepper and five spice powder become more prominent. Set aside for later usage.
- In a large tray, put the rice flour and sweet potatoes flour or self raising flour. Stir until well mixed.
- When the chicken has finished marinating, take a piece of chicken and coat adequately with the flour mixture. Transfer to another tray and avoid stacking each other. Perform the same for the other pieces. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before deep frying . The main purpose is for the water moisture to penetrate the flour mixture and this will give a better coating. If preferred, you can do second coating by rolling the coated chicken into the flour mixture for another round.
- Heat up a pot of hot oil, you will know if the oil is ready when one piece of Thai basil leaves being thrown into the hot oil, bubbles start to emit. Deep fry the Thai basil leaves until transparent which took about 1-2 minutes. Drain and set aside. Note that the Thai basil leaves shall be very dry before deep frying.
- Put the chicken nuggets and deep fry under “MEDIUM” heat until the coating is crispy and light beige in colour. It will take about 5-8 minutes. Drain and let it rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, turn the heat to HIGH. After 5 minutes, re-fry the chicken under “HIGH” heat until the chicken is brownish and crispier. The main purpose of double frying is to release the moisture trapped inside the chicken meat. The twice frying method will yield a much crispier fried chicken even when cooled. Drain and transfer to a bowl.
- Dust the prepared seasoning on the fried chicken and stir until well mixed. The amount of prepared seasonings to be added will very much depend on individual preference.
- Serve the chicken with deep fried Thai basil and it is recommended that the fried chicken be eaten as soon as it is cooled.
Again, while many recipe like to use corn starch as a deep frying coating, personally, I prefer to use self raising flour and authentic recipe call for the use of sweet potatoes flour that are granular. The choice is yours. While deep fried food is not recommended, but it is definitely a much healthier choice to prepare at home than purchased from the night market. Your oil is clean and once a while indulgence is definitely acceptable.
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