ENJOY THE BEST OF THE BREAST
SUSAN JUNG has travelled all over the world and has tried and tested every fried chicken recipe you could ever wish for.
In Kung Pao & Beyond, she has selected her favourite fried chicken recipes from across East and Southeast Asia and shares one of those with us here.
About the Author
Susan Jung is the Food Editor at Vogue Hong Kong. She was previously Food and Drinks Editor at the South China Morning Post for more than 20 years. Since 2015 Susan has been the Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau Academy Chair for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Kung Pao & Beyond by Susan Jung (Quadrille, £20) Photography ©Yuki Sugiura
THIS IS one of my favourite ways to eat chicken breast – it’s yoshoku (Western-influenced Japanese food) at its best.
It sounds like an unlikely combination: fried chicken dunked into a light sauce, then served with tartare sauce, a condiment that, in the west, is usually an accompaniment to seafood.
I often serve this with Japanese rice, shredded cabbage and takuan (pickled radish) or cucumber pickles.
- 800g (1lb 12oz) boneless chicken breast
- Coarse salt flakes, as necessary
- 30ml (2 tbsp) soy sauce (all-purpose Kikkoman or your favourite brand)
- 20ml (4 tsp) sake
- 5g (1 tsp) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp finely ground white pepper
- 100g (3½oz) coating mix made with potato or sweet potato flour
- About 40ml (2 tbsp + 2 tsp) iced water
- About 120g (4¼oz) potato or sweet
- Potato flour
- 750ml (3¼ cups) cooking oil
For the nanban sauce:
- 60ml (¼ cup) soy sauce (all-purpose Kikkoman or your favourite brand)
- 60ml (¼ cup) sake
- 60ml (¼ cup) mirin
- 30g (2 tbsp) granulated sugar
- 30g (2 tbsp) honey
- 60ml (¼ cup) rice vinegar
For the tartare sauce:
- 2 eggs
- 60g (2oz) peeled onion
- 40–60g (1½–2oz) cornichons or gherkins
- 180g (6¼oz) Kewpie mayonnaise (see note)
- ½ tsp medium-grind black pepper, or more to taste
Butterfly the chicken breasts, cut them into 3cm (1¼in) chunks and put them in a bowl. Weigh the chicken, then multiply the amount by 0.01 – this is the amount of salt you need. Add the salt, mix well and leave for at least 30 minutes.
Add the soy sauce, sake, sugar and white pepper to the chicken, mix well and marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
While the chicken is marinating, make the tartare sauce. Put the eggs in a pan and add water to cover by 1cm (½in).
Place over a medium heat, then bring to the boil. Cover the pan with the lid, turn off the heat and leave for 12 minutes.
Drain off the water, then transfer the eggs to a bowl filled with iced water and leave to cool. Crack the eggs and remove the shells.
Finely mince the onion, then put the pieces in a bowl of iced water and leave for a few minutes. (This makes the onion taste sweeter.) Drain off the water, then dry the onion with paper towels.
Cut the cornichons into small dice and chop the eggs. Mix the eggs, onion and cornichons with the Kewpie mayonnaise and add the black pepper. Put the tartare sauce into a bowl and set aside.
To make the nanban sauce, pour the soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and honey into a saucepan and place it on the stove top, but do not turn on the heat.
Add the coating mix and the iced water to the bowl of chicken and mix well to create a batter that coats the pieces lightly and evenly. If necessary, adjust the consistency by mixing in more iced water.
Dredge the battered chicken pieces in the potato or sweet potato flour, shake off the excess and lay them on a cooling rack placed over a tray.
Pour the cooking oil into a pan, preferably a medium wok, set over a medium heat. Fry the chicken at 160°C (320°F) in four or five batches. Fry the chicken for 45 seconds, then drain on the rack. Let the pieces rest for 5 minutes, then fry them a second time at 170°C (340°F) for 45 seconds.
Bring the nanban sauce to the boil over a medium heat and simmer for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and simmer for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat.
Put half of the fried chicken into a bowl and add half the nanban sauce. Toss the pieces in the bowl so they are lightly coated with the sauce. Transfer to a serving dish, then repeat with the remaining chicken and sauce.
Spoon some of the tartare sauce over the chicken and serve the rest on the side.
For the right flavour, it’s important to use Kewpie mayonnaise (a Japanese brand) for the tartare sauce.