I like chicken, as you might be able to tell, but what I like most of all is fried chicken. Crispy but juicy chicken wings, fried to golden perfection. Mmmmmmmmmmm! Often, simple is best. I think not many dishes can beat chicken wings marinated briefly in plenty of salt, a dash of white pepper and just a little bit of turmeric, with perhaps a squeeze of tamarind juice. Fry that up, and I am well on my way to happiness. Luckily, these kinds of fried chicken are easily available during family functions (usually!!) so I have no lack of them. Except here, of course, but again, they're easy to make. :D
Anyway... all that ramble is to introduce today's dish - Taiwanese Pop Corn Chicken, posted earlier by the Cookie Monster. :D Because I like fried chicken, I am ready to try almost any dish which vaguely resembles it, haha. But of course, I keep on coming back to the simple one I've detailed above. But Cookie Monster has been extolling the virtues of this particular dish, and especially using sweet potato starch. Can it beat my favourite? ;) Here we go!
What you need:
500g boneless skinless chicken thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup thick soy sauce
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1 garlic clove, minced finely
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Original recipe uses 1/4 cup sweet rice wine or mirin, which apparently can be substituted with white grape juice and grated lemon zest. I couldn't find white grape juice, so just squeezed a bit of lemon juice into the marinade
SWEET potato starch, for coating
Oil, for frying
Fresh sweet Thai basil - couldn't find this, so used normal Italian basil instead
2 tortilla wraps (optional)
Thai sweet chilli sauce, or another sauce of your choice
What you do:
- Mix marinade ingredients together in a bowl, then add in chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat up the oil (I added in enough to cover lower half of the chicken pieces - not quite deep-frying, but you're welcome to deepfry if you want :) )
- Coat the chicken pieces in the sweet potato starch, and fry in batches until golden brown and cooked through. Drain well.
- After that, deep fry some of the basil leaves and drain.
- You can eat this as it is, with some rice perhaps, or on its own as a snack, but I decided to make it into a wrap. To assemble, place half the chicken pieces in the middle of a tortilla wrap. Scatter over the fried basil leaves, as well as some more fresh ones if you want. Drizzle over the chilli sauce. Fold over the bottom of the tortilla, then wrap the sides around the chicken. Repeat with the other tortilla wrap, and eat immediately.
Also... that wasn't my only problem. I bought potato starch, and it was only when I got home that I realised it said SWEET potato starch. Not that I would have had a choice, as I don't remember seeig sweet potato starch in the shop I went to. So oh well. Normally, I wouldn't even mention it, but potato starch acts a bit... strange. Its texture is a bit like rice flour, I think, a bit squeaky. but when you fry it... it doesn't turn golden brown. It just stays white. Which is strange-looking, as it kind of looks like I dusted icing sugar all over the chicken, haha. I tried frying it for longer, but only managed to burn the chicken, so that wasn't a very good idea.
So yeah, word of warning, use SWEET potato starch. I've never used that one before either, but the picture in his post doesn't have white splotches all over, so I'm guessing it doesn't act the same way. Of course, you could just use normal flour, but apparently, using sweet potato starch makes your chicken even crispier. I can't confirm that, but my chicken was rather crispy. I don't fry much with flour though, so I can't say whether its crispy-er. But yeah...
Anyway, on to the chicken taste-test! I thought... that this chicken was quite sweet. Probably because of the honey. (Also, I'm not sure what exactly was thick soy sauce, so I used sweet soy sauce - kicap manis. That might have been wrong on my part, I guess. :P) I mean, I don't mind slightly sweet chicken IF its ... you now, sticky-ish with a sauce, or perhaps barbecued or roasted. But sweet fried chicken? Its a bit strange on my tastebuds. But I am not quite sure if its supposed to be sweet, or I did something wrong... will have to check.
Anyway, truth be told... my chicken was rather ugly, haha. Half of them were slightly burnt to a dark black-ish brown while the other half had white splotches over them. Doesn't sound appetising does it? :P Sounds like some kind of horrible disease that afflicts fried chicken. Anyway, it didn't taste all that bad though. Just a bit sweet for my liking, like I said.
But add it into the wrap, with the basil and sweet chilli sauce, it was great! The basil provided a nice tang, as always, while the sweet chilli sauce... well, made it slightly sweeter, but also gave a nice spicy kick. You might want to use a stronger sauce, if you're more spice-tolerant. :) Or use mayo, if you like that kind of thing.
So there you go... taiwanese pop corn chicken wraps. :D Of course, you can actually use your favorite fillings instead of this, if you like. Or forgo the wrap altogether and have this with rice or on its own. Its really up to you. :D
Quote of the day: Cook-books have always intrigued and seduced me. When I was still a dilettante in the kitchen they held my attention, even the dull ones, from cover to cover, the way crime and murder stories did.