This recipe is brought to you by Williams-Sonoma
It’s a common misconception that Asian cooking at home requires a high level of skill, masses of hard-to-source ingredients and tonnes of time. According to TV presenter, author and cook (plus our favourite MasterChef Australia winner) Adam Liaw, the road to delicious Asian meals at home is a short and simple one – even for less confident cooks.
Speaking of cooks in need of confidence (is this you?), Williams-Sonoma is hosting an exclusive cooking class with Adam in its Sydney Cooking School on Tuesday 6 October and is giving you the chance to win a place for yourself (read how at the end of this recipe). The recipes featured in the class, along with this one, come from Adam’s new book, Adam Liaw’s Asian Cookery School, released this week.
Also known as yan su ji, popcorn chicken is a popular street food in Taipei and, as Adam says, once you try it you’ll see why. The crunchy texture of the sweet potato flour turns the chicken into incredibly moreish, easy-to-snack fast food, Taiwanese-style.
Styling Tip: Serve your chicken popcorn in a deep, narrow vessel lined with parchment or baking paper for an ultra-glam take on a fried chicken bucket. It’s not just about cute looks, either: a deep and narrow bowl helps to keep the chicken hot for longer while the paper helps absorb any excess oil.
- 600g boneless chicken thigh fillets, preferably skin-on, cut into 3cm pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 2 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 1 cup sweet potato flour
- 2 litres oil, for deep-frying
- 1 cup loosely packed Thai basil leaves
- Spiced salt
- 1 tbsp salt
- ¼ tsp Chinese five spice powder
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- A pinch chilli powder
1. Combine the chicken with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar and five spice powder and set aside to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
2. Coat the chicken pieces in the sweet potato flour and shake off any excess.
3. Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan. When the oil reaches 150°C, scatter the basil leaves into the wok and stir for about 20 seconds, or until the basil turns translucent. Remove the basil from the wok and drain on absorbent paper.
4. Increase the heat of the oil to 170°C and fry the chicken in batches for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through, regularly skimming any floating flour bits from the oil.
5. For the spiced salt, mix the ingredients together and toast in a dry frypan over low–medium heat for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Toss the chicken with the fried basil leaves and season with a good pinch of the spice salt.
Serve immediately. Serves 2–4.
Sweet potato flour is sometimes sold as ‘tapioca flour’. It’s available from Asian grocers. The Taiwanese variety is a coarse-textured but light flour that gives the characteristic crumbly texture to this dish. You could substitute cornflour or rice flour but it won’t quite be the same.
When deep-frying, skimming oil is a really important step that many people overlook. It preserves the oil by keeping it clear, and stops burnt flavours creeping in to later batches.
Head here for your chance to win a place in Adam’s exclusive cooking class at Williams-Sonoma’s Bondi Junction Cooking School.