If you’ve ever visited Vancouver, you’ll know that the Taiwanese bubble tea houses are as ubiquitous as the sushi joints. The bubble tea houses serve a variety of drinks, desserts, Taiwanese snacks and mini meals into the wee night. Generally, the food at bubble tea places is cheap, fast and filling.Mike’s favourite thing to order is crispy-salty-peppery chicken. They’re deep-fried popcorn chicken nuggets with a thin, non-existent crispy skin tossed in white pepper and Chinese five-spice powder. They’re super delicious and very addictive.
Salty-peppery chicken is super simple to make, but there is a secret ingredient: sweet potato starch. Apparently sweet potato starch is what keeps the coating crispy. You can find sweet potato starch in most Asian groceries. Other than buying the sweet potato starch, making salty-peppery chicken is super simple. The chicken is marinated overnight in soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and spices then the next day cornstarch and an egg yolk is added to the marinade and the chicken is tossed in the sweet potato starch and deep-fried.
Traditionally, the Taiwanese deep-fry a couple of Thai basil leaves to go with the chicken, but since I had regular basil, I threw that in the oil with some flat leaf parsley. I really love deep-fried herbs, the crisp-delicateness really brings out their flavour. Crispy-salty peppery chicken make a great snack, or you can make yourself a little set meal.
Taiwanese Crispy Salty Peppery Chicken Recipe adapted from Micky’s Fav. Taiwanese Recipes
4 boneless chicken thighs, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 egg yolk
1 cup sweet potato starch
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 cup soy sauce (reduce this to 1 tablespoon, see note)
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoons 5 spice powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
In a large bowl, mix minced garlic, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of 5 spice powder, and white pepper. Marinate the chicken overnight.
The next day, add the egg yolk and corn starch into the marinated chicken and mix it well.
In a bowl, mix the sweet potato starch, the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of 5 spice powder, and garlic powder. This is the coating for the fried chicken.
Coat each piece of chicken completely with the mix. Let it sit for about 5 mins before frying so that the sweet potato starch has time to stick onto the chicken.
Heat a pot of frying oil over medium heat to 350˚F. Fry the chicken in batches until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on a cooling rack. Turn the heat to high so the oil reaches 375˚F.
Fry the chicken pieces for a second time in the oil for about 10 seconds to make it extra crispy.
Toss in any herbs you are deep frying.
Drain the chicken on a cooling rack and serve hot.
Note: My chicken turned out brown, too brown. I would recommend skipping the soy sauce, or reducing it to 1 tablespoon. I rinsed off some of my chicken pieces, but they were still too brown and burning quickly because of the soy sauce, so definitely reduce the soy sauce!