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FeChef

Need advice on chicken breading texture

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I am at wits end here. I have been trying for years to reproduce the same texture of this general tso chicken breading that i used to get at a "no longer local" chinese restaurant. Its not your typical big chunks of chicken coated with breading bigger then the chunk of chicken inside. This restaurant uses there melt in your mouth tender thin white meat chicken strips that you usually get with the popular dish "chicken w/broccoli" The breading is a very light coating with little crunchy bits that resemble "rice crispies" The soft tenderness of the chicken and the little crunchy bits is just an amazing texture contrast. I have tried for years to achieve this texture with no luck.

Here i will mention things i have tried:

Velveting with egg white/cornstarch= no dice

dusting with cornstarch/flour mixture= no dice

dusting with wondra flour= no dice

moistening chicken and coating in rice crispy/flour mixture= no dice

And my last attempt involved spraying water onto a cookie sheet with flour and sifting out the tiny flour balls and letting them harden and coating chicken with them. Seemed to be on the right track but still wasnt it.

Does anyone have any ideas? Here is some pics i took of the dish last time i was there.

102_4627.JPG

102_4637.JPG

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Looks like puffed rice. These are sometimes used as a coating for frying. I'm sorry I can't help with a recipe, since I have never made it.


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Looks like puffed rice. These are sometimes used as a coating for frying. I'm sorry I can't help with a recipe, since I have never made it.

puffed rice is similar to rice krispies. But puffed rice is more uniform in shape.

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Looks like puffed rice. These are sometimes used as a coating for frying. I'm sorry I can't help with a recipe, since I have never made it.

puffed rice is similar to rice krispies. But puffed rice is more uniform in shape.

Suppose they crushed the puffed rice in something like a mortar and pestle to make the coating/flour for the chicken. Some rice bits would be broken into smaller chunks and not completely pulverized, providing an explanation as to why some rice bits are smaller than others.


 

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Looks like puffed rice. These are sometimes used as a coating for frying. I'm sorry I can't help with a recipe, since I have never made it.

puffed rice is similar to rice krispies. But puffed rice is more uniform in shape.

Suppose they crushed the puffed rice in something like a mortar and pestle to make the coating/flour for the chicken. Some rice bits would be broken into smaller chunks and not completely pulverized, providing an explanation as to why some rice bits are smaller than others.

Yes I have already tried crushing them up. It comes out looking nothing like the pictures. Ive also tried a mixture of rice krispies (crushed) and flour. Still nothing like the pics.

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This is just a stab in the dark, but it sounds like panko bread crumbs to me. I could be wrong, but its worth a check. I'd also do a google search for "karaage chicken" (not sure if I spelled that correctly, someone please correct me if I'm wrong) which is the Japanese equivalent of fried chicken. Maybe you can get some coating ideas from that. Admittedly, those are both Japanese, and your restaurant is Chinese, but there's been a lot of culinary "interbreeding" between the Asian cuisines. Worth a try.

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Franci, by George, I believe you've got it, but even if you don't, it'd be darn good! :D


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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It could be something similar to tenkasu.

Or if it's really rice, I might try getting some fried rice crackers (like the ones used in khao tang na tang--Thai, but I know the Chinese make them, too), breaking them up, and using those.

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This is just a stab in the dark, but it sounds like panko bread crumbs to me. I could be wrong, but its worth a check. I'd also do a google search for "karaage chicken" (not sure if I spelled that correctly, someone please correct me if I'm wrong) which is the Japanese equivalent of fried chicken. Maybe you can get some coating ideas from that. Admittedly, those are both Japanese, and your restaurant is Chinese, but there's been a lot of culinary "interbreeding" between the Asian cuisines. Worth a try.

Im sorry, I forgot to post that ive tried panko aswell. First try was a milk/flour batter, then coated in panko, second try was going straight from the egg white/cornstarch, then panko. Both were tasty, but nothing like the pictures. If you ever had coconut shrimp you would know the texture, and to be honest after i tried, i thought to myself and then gave myself a face palm. I will fix my original post to include panko.

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Water chestnut flour and water chestnut pieces?

Can you please explain this flour. Google images shows no indication that this chestnut flour mention would produce any texture difference then all purpose flour.

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Water chestnut flour and water chestnut pieces?

Can you please explain this flour. Google images shows no indication that this chestnut flour mention would produce any texture difference then all purpose flour.

I thought about this, because I've used it in a Chinese recipe to fry duck. It's a very convoluted recipe from Barbara Tropp, it's a steamed and "pressed" duck, then dusted in chestnut flour, steamed and deep fried. Here you can see it, sorry, it's in Italian but you can look at the pictures. It was indeed very crispy, although your chicken is covered in a glaze after frying, so maybe you can tell if the restaurant's chicken retained some crunch compared to the flour one you tried at home. If you want to read a bit more on chestnut flour for frying Here on A. Nguyen.

Then, in the past I also made the traditional water chestnut cake, where chestnut flour and chestnut pieces are cooked and then steamed. Now, I googled fried chicken in chestnut flour and it is common. Then my crazy mind thought: what if this people had extra water chestnut cake batter and used it up and worked for them. But I might be totally wrong.

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I dont know if its the sauce that does this, but the chicken is very soft in the area's you dont see those little bits, but the bits are very crunchy and seem to stay crunchy no matter how long the chicken stays in the sauce. Except overnight leftovers (if there ever is any).

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Why not ask them how they do it?

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Why not ask them how they do it?

Tried. When i mentioned panko they acted like they never heard of it. Broken english doesnt help matters either. Even asked them last time i was in the area if i could buy a few orders worth uncooked and take it home, they declined. Told me they could sell me there standard breaded chunk version uncooked though. Unwilling to communicate with me about it anymore, i didnt even bother to ask if they make it fresh or frozen and if i could pay them in advance for a bunch and have them freeze overnight. Its a lost cause and i either figure it out myself or only get it when im in that area which im lucky to pass by every few months.

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Not that I have the answer...because without actually eating it or at least seeing it without the sauce, it's hard to say, but for your next attempts I have some suggestions:

sweet potato starch

tapioca flour

rice flour

I'd try them in that order.

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So I finally got some of the chicken without sauce. I also found an interesting method for adding crunchy "bits" to breading. Basicly you mix some of your breading flour with water to make a batter. You add that batter to a squeeze bottle and squirt it into your breaading while wisking it to make little bits. Then dredge your chicken in one single coat to get that texture. Anyway heres a pic of the chicken without sauce. Later i will have some results of my own aswell.

tsochicken.jpg

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Hello FeChef (and all fellow EGers),

My first post! I have "lurked" and read with interest for a very long time on these threads, but have finally decided to pop out and participate.

FeChef.... your very first pic in the thread looks similar to a fried chicken recipe I tried not too long ago. I was playing with a different type of flour as a coating. It came out remarkably similar looking to what you posted. Ironically, the base recipe came from the fried chicken thread here on eGullet, but I digress....

Here is what I did:

- Make a very thin crepe-like "batter" of all purpose flour and water

- Give the chicken a little bath in the batter

- Place chicken into seasoned (or not) rice flour, and let sit for a bit, allowing all the flour to get into the nooks and crannies. I think it is in this step that those small ricepuff like batter bits can get formed.

- deep fry to golden deliciousness

In my case, I was using chicken wings. I did not totally enjoy the final product as the texture of the coating was a just a bit too hard and crunchy for my tastes. But that's just me. Who knows, maybe it's perfect for what you're after...

Hope it helps!

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