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Pictorial: Cantonese Fried Chicken


hzrt8w
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Pictorial Recipe

Cantonese Fried Chicken (炸子雞)

Have you ever tasted Cantonese Fried Chicken? Succulent meat, crispy skin, and accompanied with a dish of salt mixed with ground Sichuan peppercorn. Customarily this dish is served with a dozen pieces of fried shrimp chips on top.

Here is how you can make this dish at home.

Picture of the finished dish:

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Serving Suggestion: 2

Preparations:

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Main ingredients (upper right, clockwise):

- 1 whole chicken, about 2 lb

- Shrimp chips (Prawn Flavored Chips), use about 20 pieces

- Five spice powder

- (Not shown) 2 star anises

- Chinese red vinegar, use about 1/2 bottle

Note: I used a small chicken, which was only 2 pound. The optimal size to use is around 3 to 4 pound. You need to adjust the cooking time.

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Pat dry the chicken with a paper towel.

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To make the marinade: mix 2 tsp of salt, 1-2 tsp of five spice powder, 2 whole star anise (break them apart).

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Mix well in a small bowl.

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Rub the marinade inside the cavity of the chicken. Try to spread as evenly as possible. Set aside for about 1 to 2 hours.

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The key to get crispy skin on a Cantonese Fried Chicken is to treat the skin with boiling red vinegar and hang dry the chicken for a few hours. Here is how I do it at home:

Boil half a bottle of the Chinese red vinegar in a small pot.

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Set a pan on top of a stove set at medium heat to catch the overflown vinegar. Use a pair of tongs to hold the chicken. Pour the boiling red vinegar on top of the chicken. Turn the chicken slightly as you pour the vinegar to get it evenly on the chicken surface.

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Recycle the vinegar from the pan and pour back to the pot. Wait for a few minutes until it boils again, repeat the process and pour the boiling vinegar on the chicken.

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Repeat the pouring for a total of 4 times: twice poured on the breast side, twice on the back side.

Note: I had past experiences that when I poured the boiling vinegar on the chicken too many times, the skin turned vinegary. Two rounds per side is about right.

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Hang the chicken somewhere that has circulating air. I hung the chicken off the paper towel rack. I used a small fan to gently blow on the chicken for about 2 hours. I placed a plate under the chicken to catch the dripping fluid.

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This is how the chicken looked after 2 hours of drying.

Cooking Instructions:

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Use a wok. Set stove to high. Heat up about 3 to 4 cups of frying oil. The oil must be very hot before deep-frying the chicken. This may take up to 10 minutes or more to heat up on a regular stove. Observe the oil. Wait until it start swirling before use.

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Add the chicken. Note that the chicken will start sizzling right away (if it doesn't, the oil is not hot enough).

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After a few minutes, turn the chicken over and fry the other side until the skin turns golden brown.

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Use a colander to drain off the excess oil.

Chop up the chicken as depicted in this guide:

A Pictorial Guide To Chopping A Chicken, Cantonese style

Transfer the chicken to a serving plate.

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It is customary to serve fried shrimp chips with Cantonese Fried Chicken. When you buy them in boxes, here is what they look like - kind of like transparent plastic chips. Use about a dozen of them.

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Drop the raw shrimp chips in the hot frying oil. They will sink to the bottom. After a few seconds, they will pop and float to the top. Place them on a plate with a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.

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To make the condiment: use a small dish and mix 2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorn powder. Mix well. Transfer to the serving plate (put on the side).

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Picture of the finished dish.

Keys to cooking this dish

1. The chicken should be hung dry long enough to produce cripsy skin and not too long where the skin will burn quickly while the inside of the chicken is still raw.

2. For large chickens, you may need to pre-cook the chicken in an oven, then finish it off on the fryer to get the crispy skin. Suggest to bake the chicken at 325F for 30 to 45 minutes.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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This looks amazing!!! Wow. How did it taste?  I am guessing that the skin has to be the best part. 

One question, what do you do with the left over oil and vinegar?

It tastes as good as the restaurant made if done right.

Left over oil: same as frying oil for other stuff. You may save for future frying, or some people discard it.

Left over vinegar: should discard because it ran over raw chicken. Not that much anyway because vinegar is consumed and evaporated.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Yum! Beautiful as always, Ah Leung.

Shrimp chips are my favorite. Can I make more?--some for the table, some for the chef! :biggrin:

Some restaurants serve Pringles with the chicken instead. :huh:

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Some restaurants serve Pringles with the chicken instead.  :huh:

OK, that's just..... weird. It's not like shrinp chips are hard to find or anything.

A lot of the recipes I've seen for this include maltose or honey in the coating, which gives the chicken a nice crust after the frying.

Looks great, Ah Leung!

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Some restaurants serve Pringles with the chicken instead.   :huh:

OK, that's just..... weird. It's not like shrinp chips are hard to find or anything.

A lot of the recipes I've seen for this include maltose or honey in the coating, which gives the chicken a nice crust after the frying.

Looks great, Ah Leung!

The chicken is absolutely gorgeous, Ah Leung!  I would really like to try this.  A question, though.  Could you possibly make this with even smaller chickens - like game hens?  My wok is small and I think those would be the perfect size.

Game hens are perfect for single servings. I used 20 of them for a surprise bday party for my husband. Unfortunately, he decided to be "sick" for the day of the party, so I could only prep. 2 hens at a time. I was a bit frazzled by the time I "honey blanched" all 20, tucked them away in different out of the way places to air dry, but always leaving 2 out in plain sight.

A lot of the recipes I've seen for this include maltose or honey in the coating, which gives the chicken a nice crust after the frying.

As I mentioned above, I used honey dissolved in the wok of hot water as a coating rather than red vinegar. This produced a very slightly sweet beautiful coating like Ah leung's.

For large chickens, I would suggest simmering the chicken in the honeyed water until just cooked (as in bak jam gai) before letting it air dry. Then, finish it off with deep frying.

The best parts are the wing tips. :smile:

Shrimp chips are so easy, colourful, and much more interesting to eat. WHY would they use Pringles? Strange... :huh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Shrimp chips are my favorite.  Can I make more?--some for the table, some for the chef!  :biggrin: 

Be careful... the chef gets too full in the kitchen, no appetite at the dinner table... :cool:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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A question, though.  Could you possibly make this with even smaller chickens - like game hens?  My wok is small and I think those would be the perfect size.

As Dejah Dai Ga Jeah said (and who are we to argue? :wink: ): smaller chicken, cornish hens, etc. should be okay. Just adjust the cooking time and be careful as it may get burnt easily.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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[...]

As I mentioned above, I used honey dissolved in the wok of hot water as a coating rather than red vinegar. This produced a very slightly sweet beautiful coating like Ah leung's.

Dai Ga Jeah and sheetz: how about mixing maltose/honey in hot water and use it to dilute the red vinegar? Maybe we can take advantage of both? I may try this in my next round.

All the recipes I have read on this dish said use red vinegar. I have seen Ming Chai doing it on TV: Peking duck... boiled a whole wok of red vinegar and pour on top of the blown-up duck... during his challenge to Iron Chef Bobbie Flay (and Ming won!).

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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[...]

As I mentioned above, I used honey dissolved in the wok of hot water as a coating rather than red vinegar. This produced a very slightly sweet beautiful coating like Ah leung's.

Dai Ga Jeah and sheetz: how about mixing maltose/honey in hot water and use it to dilute the red vinegar? Maybe we can take advantage of both? I may try this in my next round.

No reason to use both as this step is to produce a crispy deep golden-red coloured skin, unless you want a sweet 'n' sour Cantonese fried chicken. :wink:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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No reason to use both as this step is to produce a crispy deep golden-red coloured skin,  unless you want a sweet 'n' sour Cantonese fried chicken. :wink:

Actually, I like the tanginess that the vinegar adds to the crust. But you don't need to use red vinegar if you coat the chicken with honey because the sugars will form a nice amber colored crust by itself. Regular white vinegar will do just fine.

Eileen Yin Fei Lo's recipe in The Chinese Kitchen says to first simmer a 3-3 1/2 pound chicken in boiling water infused with seasonings. Then drain and brush all over with a mixture of

1 tsp maltose/honey

2 Tbl boiling water

1 tsp Shao Hsing wine

1 tsp white rice vinegar or distilled vinegar

1/2 tsp cornstarch.

Air dry for 6 hours. Then deep fry at 375F for 4 minutes.

Edited by sheetz (log)
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Game hens are perfect for single servings. I used 20 of them for a surprise bday party for my husband. Unfortunately, he decided to be "sick" for the day of the party, so I could only prep. 2 hens at a time. I was a bit frazzled by the time I "honey blanched" all 20, tucked them away in different out of the way places to air dry, but always leaving 2 out in plain sight.

...

Shrimp chips are so easy, colourful, and much more interesting to eat. WHY would they use Pringles? Strange...  :huh:

Dejah, I hope you remembered where you hid them all! :laugh:

Just to be clear, I never liked the Pringles. The kiddies enjoy them, but to me they were just weird and WRONG.

Looking at Eileen Yin Fei Lo's recipe I guess that the honey/maltose would caramelize the skin more, but what would the cornstarch do?

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Dejah, I hope you remembered where you hid them all! :laugh:

Looking at Eileen Yin Fei Lo's recipe I guess that the honey/maltose would caramelize the skin more, but what would the cornstarch do?

Luckily, I remembered that I had 20 hens, and they were all accounted for at supper time. :wink:

As for the cornstarch, I wonder if it is to help the liquid mixture adhere better to the skin? :huh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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The cornstarch may be to slightly thicken the coating, or else it may help to crispen the skin a bit more. I think it was in a recent issue of Cook's Illustrated that they used brushed a cornstarch solution over a roast chicken to help make it crispier.

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Another incredibly cool-looking recipe. Although I had a little laugh about this step:

gallery_19795_3097_13019.jpg

Hang the chicken somewhere that has circulating air.  I hung the chicken off the paper towel rack.  I used a small fan to gently blow on the chicken for about 2 hours.  I placed a plate under the chicken to catch the dripping fluid.

If this were a photo taken in my kitchen, it would also include a shot of my household's cat merrily licking away at this awesome chicken-lollypop the humans left hanging out just for him! :laugh:

(I keep telling him that it's not his food--but he keeps ignoring me. :laugh: )

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Another incredibly cool-looking recipe. Although I had a little laugh about this step:

[...]

Hey... anything I can do to get good eats.

Practicality first, elegance optional. :laugh:

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Yum!  Beautiful as always, Ah Leung.

Shrimp chips are my favorite.  Can I make more?--some for the table, some for the chef!  :biggrin: 

Some restaurants serve Pringles with the chicken instead.  :huh:

Eeeeew! Pringles??????

That sounds just plain wrong.

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correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the air-drying step a no-no with the health inspectors who like to stick the thermometer in everything?

all the temperature less than this and more than this and for this long ....

please let me know why would this step be an exception to the rule.

PS: converted non-veggie so feel free to elaborate if needed

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This looks absolutely awesome... I'll definitely make this one day, but I've already got some Hzrt8w recipes on my to-do list -- it's hard to prioritize them, they look so damn good.

Re. the health inspectors, I've heard about that, too... There was a link posted to a health inspection thread on egullet a while ago, that described how authentic Chinese restaurants could never get an "A" rating because of these air-drying techniques.

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Re. the health inspectors, I've heard about that, too... There was a link posted to a health inspection thread on egullet a while ago, that described how authentic Chinese restaurants could never get an "A" rating because of these air-drying techniques.

Health inspectors can be a real pain in the @@#*. One newby tried to make me put the bags of raw rice in the cooler to keep the bacteria at bay. :wacko:

In air drying, using a walk-in cooler may be possible? In the cooler I had, the fan going inside kept the air moving. Just have rotating lots in the cooler. BBQ ones from yesterday and replace with a new batch glazed today.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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i have two questions about this:

1. i have a chicken that's about 3 1/2 pounds. do you have any guidelines for the frying time--about how long should it take on both sides?

2. is it possible to treat it with vinegar and then let it dry in the fridge overnight, so that i can fry it after work the next day? will it get dry enough, or won't that work? when i get home from work, i can pull it out of the fridge to let it come to room temp before frying, but i won't have enough time to do the vinegar step, then dry it and fry it all in one evening, and still have dinner on the table at a decent hour.

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2. is it possible to treat it with vinegar and then let it dry in the fridge overnight, so that i can fry it after work the next day?

I would suggest, if you can, to do the vinegar treatment early in the evening, allow a couple of hours for air drying, then put it into the fridge uncovered. If you bring it back to room temp before deep frying, then the chicken will cook properly. Otherwise, if you try to deep fry it straight from the fridge, the skin will be burnt before the flesh is cooked throughly.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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      The vast majority of the 10,000 were students from the local colleges who patiently and happily lined up to be seated. Hey, mix students and free food – of course they are happy.
       

       
      Each table was equipped with a basket containing bottled water, a thermos flask of hot water, paper bowls, tissues etc. And most importantly, a bunch of Luosifen caps. These read “万人同品螺蛳粉” which means “10,000 people together enjoy luosifen”
       

       
      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

      Lamb Kebabs
       

      Kebab spice mix – Cumin, chilli powder, salt and MSG
       

      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

      Different crab
       

      Sweet sticky rice balls
       

      Things on sticks
       

      Grilled scorpions
       

      Pig bones and bits
       

      Snails
       
      And much more.
       
      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
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