Har Cheong Gai (Prawn Paste Chicken) (II)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

How many ways are there to fry chicken?

More ways than there are to skin a . . . c-a-t. (Shhhh! Don't let the kitties hear us.)

Every culture has its own version of fried chicken. That is the chicken's destiny. That is why it crosses the road.

The recipe I use for har cheong gai is from All About Ci Char Cuisine.

There're only four ingredients in the marinade: prawns fermented to a grey goo, oysters fermented to a brown goo, sugar and water. It's simple but that's how it should be.

Are you tempted to add some ginger juice and good ol' Shaoxing wine to the simple marinade?

Well, don't.

You might think wine and ginger would reduce 虾酱's fishy, pungent smell but they don't. I know because I've tried.

Without wine and ginger juice, 虾酱 undergoes a transformation when it's fried. Instead of the smell of dead rats – there's no better way to describe it – there's a distinct aroma and umaminess that's very similar to grilled dried squid.

With wine and ginger juice added, the fried chicken would taste of raw 虾酱. The pungency is muted compared to uncooked 虾酱 but it's still pretty nasty. The chicken would taste nothing like dried squid that's been grilled. Sometimes, less is more.

Source: Adapted from All About Ci Char Cuisine
(Recipe for 4 persons)

1 tbsp sugar
½ tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp 虾酱 (har cheong; Chinese fermented prawn paste)
2 chicken legs, about 400 g, wash, drain, and chop chunky
¼ cup tapioca starch
vegetable oil for deep-frying

🌹 The most important ingredient for prawn paste chicken is, other than prawn paste and chicken, water. The tapioca starch is also crucial. That's what Hong Kong Street Zhen Ji uses for its very popular har cheong gai, as shown in the video here. It's pretty good, better than cornflour.

Add sugar, oyster sauce, water and har cheong to chicken. Stir thoroughly. Marinate 3-4 hours, turning over once mid-way.

Bring chicken to room temperature. Shake off excess marinade from chicken. Dredge in tapioca starch till thinly coated. Pat lightly to get rid of excess starch.

Deep-fry chicken in moderately hot oil over medium heat till cooked through and lightly golden brown. Remove chicken to a sieve. Increase heat to high. Heat oil till just smoking. Refry chicken till golden brown. Drain in a sieve lined with paper towels. Serve immediately.


Shuhan said...

cool tip on avoiding the usual marinade  of shaoxing! I love how you always do the experiments for us hah. 

KT said...

There's a HK cook, May Fung, who has a Youtube video on how she makes laksa. To make the stock, she fries some prawns shells, then adds a good splash of wine, presumably Chinese. And she does the same thing for tom yum soup. Had me in stitches, she did.

Ade said...

Those recipes on other websites sometimes do not come out perfect, still need to fine tune them.I have tried some of your recipes and they turned our well. You seemed to have done quite a bit of research before putting up on the site. Good job!

Mrs Lim Soak Wai said...

Hi thank you so much for sharing your recipes - I stumbled upon your blog by chance last week and had tried out har cheong gai, steamed yam cake and har loke . All turned out excellently, surpassing my own expectations . So keep them coming - thanks again.

Naya Ong said...

I simply adore the way not only you cook, handle the stuff but the fact that you make the vid really interesting. Thanks for all your uploads and tips + jokes :))

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