Salt And Pepper Chicken – My Favorite Taiwanese Street Food

salt pepper chicken squid shrimpHands-on Time: 15 min. Total Time: 45 min.

SHORT VERSION:

Cut Chicken breast and/or boneless thigh into ~ 1 to 2 inch cubes. In a plastic bag, marinate chicken (~2lb) with sugar (1T), rice wine (2T), soy sauce (3T), five-spice powder (0.5t), white pepper powder (0.5t), and garlic powder (optional) for 30 min. Coat chicken with sweet potato (yam) flour. Tapioca flour works also. Fried chicken in oil over medium heat for 3 ~ 5 min, high heat for 30s to 1 min.

Intro:

Salt and pepper chicken is probably one of the most popular street food in Taiwan. You can find it in almost every street corner. It’s crispy, juicy, and packed with flavors. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. When I think of Taiwan street food, I think of salt and pepper chicken (of course there is also stinky tofu). After watching a few episode of a Taiwanese cooking/travel shows, I just can’t resist the desire to make this dish. This post is actually not planned at all. All the photos were taken using my cell phone (camera was out of battery) and I ended up frying a bunch different stuff, as you can see in the above pictures. It was a satisfying but not so healthy meal.

The keys to great salt and pepper chicken is to control oil temperature when frying. It’s usually done by deep fry twice at different temperature to bring out the crispy crust while keeping the inner meat moist. But we can achieve similar results with much less oil in 1 frying step. See my tips below for detail.

TIP:

Tip.1

The moisture on the surface of the marinated chicken determines the thickness of the crust. Pad-dry the chicken slightly if you want thin crust. Keep it ‘wet’ and coat the potato flour a couple more times for thick crust.

Tip.2

When frying the chicken, starts with medium-low heat to ‘full cook’ the chicken. Turn heat to high before taking the chicken out of the fryer to make the crust crispy and eliminate the extra grease. Also keep the heat high when taking the fried chicken out of the fryer.

Tip.3

For deeper flavor penetration, marinate the chicken overnight in fridge.

Tip.4

You can use the same method on any ingredient, but of course the required frying time varies (shorter for shrimp and squid).

Going the extra mile (G.E.M)

the small step (optional) that takes the dish to the next level.

G.E.M.1

Fried Thai Basil in the same oil before frying the chicken to add extra flavor to the dish.

Cookware:

  1. Wok
  2. Measuring Spoon
  3. Plastic bag for marinate

Ingredients

Protein:

  1. Chicken breast and thigh ~ 2 lb

Sauce/condiments/Spices

Units: T= Tablespoon, C = Cup.

*note* The following amount is for ~ 2lb chicken in ~ 3 Qt cast iron pot.

  1. Soy sauce -3 T
  2. Sugar – 1 T
  3. Rice wine (non-salted) – 2 T
  4. 5-spice powder– 0.5 t
  5. Garlic powder (optional) – 1t
  6. Sweet potato flour or Tapioca flour – 2 Cup
  7. Oil – enough to fill the wok/pot for ~ 2” deep

Before Cooking:

Prep.1

Cut chicken breast and boneless thigh into ~ 1” cubes. Keep in mind that thick pieces are hard to fry.

Prep.2

In a plastic bag, marinate chicken (~2lb) with sugar (1T), rice wine (2T), soy sauce (3T), five-spice powder (0.5t), white pepper powder (0.5t), and garlic powder (optional) for > 30 min.

Prep.3

chicken coated with potato flour for taiwanese salt pepper chickenOn a plate, pour 1 to 2 cups of sweet potato flour, coat marinated chicken evenly, and set aside.

Cooking Steps:

Cooking.1

cook1frying chickenflip and frying chicken for salt pepper chickenIn a wok, over medium heat, pour oil to ~ 1” deep (chicken is not fully covered in this case). Add Thai basil (G.E.M.), fry for ~ 30s. Take the Thai out and add the chicken. There should be small bubbles but not too vigorously.

Fry for ~ 1.5 to 2 min each side (depending on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces) and turn the heat to high when the bubbling starts to become vigorous. This is an indication that the juice inside the chicken is starting to go to the surface of the chicken.

Cooking.2

Turn heat to high, fry for another 30s to 1 min each side or when the chicken starts to turn brown. Keep the heat high when taking out the fried chicken.

Cooking.3

Drain the excess oil on the chicken (I just put it on a paper towl).

Cooking.4

salt and pepper chicken, calamari, squid, shrimpRepeat the process for other ingredients. I fried squid, shrimp, and imitated crab meat. What a unhealthy but satisfying feast!

Ready to serve!

 

Salt And Pepper Chicken – My Favorite Taiwanese Street Food
Cut Chicken breast and/or boneless thigh into ~ 1 to 2 inch cubes. In a plastic bag, marinate chicken (~2lb) with sugar (1T), rice wine (2T), soy sauce (3T), five-spice powder (0.5t), white pepper powder (0.5t), and garlic powder (optional) for 30 min. Coat chicken with sweet potato (yam) flour. Tapioca flour works also. Fried chicken in oil over medium heat for 3 ~ 5 min, high heat for 30s to 1 min.
Author:
Cuisine: Taiwanese
Recipe type: chinese, taiwanese, fried, chicken
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1. Chicken breast and thigh ~ 2 lb
  • 2. Soy sauce -3 T
  • 3. Sugar – 1 T
  • 4. Rice wine (non-salted) – 2 T
  • 5. 5-spice powder– 0.5 t
  • 6. Garlic powder (optional) – 1t
  • 7. Sweet potato flour or Tapioca flour - 2 Cup
  • 8. Oil – enough to fill the wok/pot for ~ 2” deep
  • 9. Thai Basil - a few leafs
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken breast and boneless thigh into ~ 1” cubes. Keep in mind that thick pieces are hard to fry.
  2. In a plastic bag, marinate chicken (~2lb) with sugar (1T), rice wine (2T), soy sauce (3T), five-spice powder (0.5t), white pepper powder (0.5t), and garlic powder (optional) for > 30 min.
  3. On a plate, pour 1 to 2 cups of sweet potato flour, coat marinated chicken evenly, and set aside.
  4. In a wok, over medium heat, pour oil to ~ 1” deep (chicken is not fully covered in this case). Add Thai basil (G.E.M.), fry for ~ 30s. Take the Thai out and add the chicken. There should be small bubbles but not too vigorously.
  5. Fry for ~ 1.5 to 2 min each side (depending on chicken size) and turn the heat to high when the bubbling starts to become vigorous. This is an indication that the juice inside the chicken is starting to go to the surface of the chicken.
  6. Turn heat to high, fry for another 30s to 1 min each side or when the chicken starts to turn brown. Keep the heat high and take out the fried chicken.
  7. Drain the oil (I just put it on a paper towl).
  8. Repeat the process for other ingredients. I fried squid, shrimp, imitated crab meat. What a unhealthy but satisfying feast!
Notes
The moisture on the surface of the marinated chicken determines the thickness of the crust. Pad-dry the chicken slightly if you want thin crust. Keep it ‘wet’ and coat the potato flour a couple more times for thick crust.
When frying the chicken, starts with medium-low heat to ‘full cook’ the chicken. Turn heat to high before taking the chicken out of the fryer to make the crust crispy and eliminate the extra grease. Also keep the heat high when taking the fried chicken out of the fryer.
For deeper flavor penetration, marinate the chicken overnight in fridge.
You can use the same method on any ingredient, but of course the required frying time varies (shorter for shrimp and squid).
Fried Thai Basil in the same oil before frying the chicken to add extra flavor to the dish.

 

 

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