Shanghainese Five-Spice Fried Chicken
Essentials of Asian Cuisine : Fundamentals and Favorite Recipes
by Corinne Trang
vegetable oil or peanut oil for deep-frying
2 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup tapioca starch or cornstarch
4 to 6 chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks joined
Heat enough vegetable oil for deep-frying in a pot over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mix together the five-spice powder, salt, pepper and tapioca starch (or cornstarch) in a bag. Add the chicken legs and seal and shake the bag until the pieces are evenly coated.
When the oil reaches 360 to 375 F, carefully add the chicken legs and fry until golden crisp on all sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Variation: Substitute 4-6 1/2-inch thick pork chops (bone-in) and fry five minutes per side. Or use 4-6 small squabs and cook 15-20 minutes.
Notes:The author talks about a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in New York's Chinatown. I wish she'd said the actual name of the place, so I could go try it out. She calls this Chinese soul food.
Remember Shake-n-Bake(tm) before they added all the salt and ruined it? Well, this is basically shake-n-fry, but with an Asian flare. And, of course, one could use any number of spice variations on it for different styles (cumin for one? or ancho chile powder?). I actually did this with boneless chicken breast, and cooked about 7 or 8 minutes per side. And the crispiness came out pretty well on this attempt -- the key is to let the oil get hot enough before you begin. I got this cookbook as a Christmas gift from my family, and I'm looking forward to trying out more things in it. And I'd really like to try the squab variation above.