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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 tree's leaves are also used in some dishes in Sichuan, but I've never seen them out of the provinces where they grow.
       
      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
       
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.
       

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
       
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
       
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
    • By liuzhou
      An eG member recently asked me by private message about mushrooms in China, so I thought I'd share some information here.

      This is what available in the markets and supermarkets in the winter months - i.e now. I'll update as the year goes by.
       
      FRESH FUNGI
       
      December sees the arrival of what most westerners deem to be the standard mushroom – the button mushroom (小蘑菇 xiǎo mó gū). Unlike in the west where they are available year round, here they only appear when in season, which is now. The season is relatively short, so I get stuck in.
       

       
      The standard mushroom for the locals is the one known in the west by its Japanese name, shiitake. They are available year round in the dried form, but for much of the year as fresh mushrooms. Known in Chinese as 香菇 (xiāng gū), which literally means “tasty mushroom”, these meaty babies are used in many dishes ranging from stir fries to hot pots.
       

       
      Second most common are the many varieties of oyster mushroom. The name comes from the majority of the species’ supposed resemblance to oysters, but as we are about to see the resemblance ain’t necessarily so.
       

       
      The picture above is of the common oyster mushroom, but the local shops aren’t common, so they have a couple of other similar but different varieties.
       
      Pleurotus geesteranus, 秀珍菇 (xiù zhēn gū) (below) are a particularly delicate version of the oyster mushroom family and usually used in soups and hot pots.
       

       
      凤尾菇 (fèng wěi gū), literally “Phoenix tail mushroom”, is a more robust, meaty variety which is more suitable for stir frying.
       

       
      Another member of the pleurotus family bears little resemblance to its cousins and even less to an oyster. This is pleurotus eryngii, known variously as king oyster mushroom, king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom or, in Chinese 杏鲍菇 (xìng bào gū). It is considerably larger and has little flavour or aroma when raw. When cooked, it develops typical mushroom flavours. This is one for longer cooking in hot pots or stews.
       

       
      One of my favourites, certainly for appearance are the clusters of shimeji mushrooms. Sometimes known in English as “brown beech mushrooms’ and in Chinese as 真姬菇 zhēn jī gū or 玉皇菇 yù huáng gū, these mushrooms should not be eaten raw as they have an unpleasantly bitter taste. This, however, largely disappears when they are cooked. They are used in stir fries and with seafood. Also, they can be used in soups and stews. When cooked alone, shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk. There is also a white variety which is sometimes called 白玉 菇 bái yù gū.
       

       

       
      Next up we have the needle mushrooms. Known in Japanese as enoki, these are tiny headed, long stemmed mushrooms which come in two varieties – gold (金針菇 jīn zhēn gū) and silver (银针菇 yín zhēn gū)). They are very delicate, both in appearance and taste, and are usually added to hot pots.
       

       

       
      Then we have these fellows – tea tree mushrooms (茶树菇 chá shù gū). These I like. They take a bit of cooking as the stems are quite tough, so they are mainly used in stews and soups. But their meaty texture and distinct taste is excellent. These are also available dried.
       

       
      Then there are the delightfully named 鸡腿菇 jī tuǐ gū or “chicken leg mushrooms”. These are known in English as "shaggy ink caps". Only the very young, still white mushrooms are eaten, as mature specimens have a tendency to auto-deliquesce very rapidly, turning to black ‘ink’, hence the English name.
       

       
      Not in season now, but while I’m here, let me mention a couple of other mushrooms often found in the supermarkets. First, straw mushrooms (草菇 cǎo gū). Usually only found canned in western countries, they are available here fresh in the summer months. These are another favourite – usually braised with soy sauce – delicious! When out of season, they are also available canned here.
       

       
      Then there are the curiously named Pig Stomach Mushrooms (猪肚菇 zhū dù gū, Infundibulicybe gibba. These are another favourite. They make a lovely mushroom omelette. Also, a summer find.
       

       
      And finally, not a mushroom, but certainly a fungus and available fresh is the wood ear (木耳 mù ěr). It tastes of almost nothing, but is prized in Chinese cuisine for its crunchy texture. More usually sold dried, it is available fresh in the supermarkets now.
       

       
      Please note that where I have given Chinese names, these are the names most commonly around this part of China, but many variations do exist.
       
      Coming up next - the dried varieties available.
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