Taiwanese fried chicken
Taiwanese fried chicken (Chinese: 鹹酥雞; pinyin: xiánsūjī; Wade–Giles: hsien²su¹chi¹; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: kiâm-so͘-ke; also 鹽酥雞; yánsūjī; ‘salty crispy chicken’), westernized as popcorn chicken, is a dish in Taiwanese cuisine commonly found as street snack and is indispensable to the night markets in Taiwan. It consists of bite-sized pieces of chicken, coated and fried with flour and seasoning mixture. Salt and pepper is the staple condiment, while chili powder, lightly fried basil leaves, and garlic bits are added for preference. Since the creation of this dish, it has become a popular fast food or restaurant appetizer in other countries in Asia, as well as among Asian immigrant populations overseas.
Taiwanese fried chicken is famous in its taste and texture, breaks through the confinement of the other snacks, having a high status in the street food space. It then rapidly becomes prevalent in the street and night markets.
Despite the fact that the history of fried chicken is not long, it evolves a lot to overcome the competitiveness and so more choices and preferences have been released. In the early stage, the fried chicken is merely added with chili powder to separate into mild, medium spicy, and extra spicy three flavors. It varies with the time and uses other seasonings, such as allspice, seaweed powder, mustard powder etc. for flavoring or pickles it with honey or filling cheese inside.
Apart from using a pot of oil, it uses two pots of oil with high and low temperatures to fry the chickens in order to optimize the crunchy texture and taste nowadays. Some vendors grill the chicken first, then fry it for extra crunch. It uses the oil with high temperature to fry the chicken to lock its gravy, followed by the oil with low temperature to make it cooked. Using this method can eliminate the shortcoming of using just a pot of oil, which are either not fully cooked or overcooked leading to losing of the gravy and dry texture. Since frying the chickens with a pot of oil always result of a thick layer of fried flour and thin layer of meat, using the new method can avoid this from happening.
Besides, some sellers use the subcutaneous fat of chickens as oil to fry the chicken, it can make the fried chickens smell good and less greasy. However, the cost of it is high. Therefore, only a few people will use this method.
Popularity in Hong Kong
Hong Kong and Taiwan have close ties and people travel a lot between the two places, hence the products have long been well known among Hong Kong people. This loyalty means that Hong Kong is a big market for Taiwanese food. It is crucial to bring to Hong Kong customers the authentic Taiwanese fried chicken, with high-quality of ingredients. There are some famous brand selling Taiwanese food in Hong Kong, such as the Hot Star Large Fried Chicken and Ji Guang. In 2016, the Hot Star Large Fried Chicken has the largest market share of this industry with 15 branches.
In general, only diced chicken leg or thigh meat is used and is marinated in soy sauce, sugar, garlic spread, rice wine, five-spice powder and spices powder for at least an hour. After marinating, chicken is dipped in beaten egg and then dredged in flour or sweet potato starch. Oil needs to be heated to 180 degrees (C) and when the oil is hot, the chicken can be added. It is deep fried until the surface color turns soft yellow and then it is ready to serve. Traditionally, after the chicken is fried, more pepper is added before eating.