I can’t tell you how light and fluffy this popcorn chicken coating is. It comes down to the potato starch I think. All the aromatics seep into the chicken with this marinade and every bite is a burst of flavour. You might think I made a quick trip to Taiwan for this recipe ….. but you’d be wrong. We tasted this first in Huatulco, Mexico and dreamt of it until I figured out how to make it.
Mercader Restaurant in Santa Cruz Huatulco, is where we first tasted this incredible bite of chicken. The owner/operators have travelled extensively and bring flavours from all over the world to play with Mexican ingredients.
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 medium head of garlic
3 green onions, white and 1-inch of the green part, minced
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon sweet potato starch
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cold water
2-3 cups sweet potato starch
Oil for frying.
Cut the chicken into 1-inch chunks and place in large bowl. Make the marinade by mincing or forcing the garlic through a press into a small bowl. Add the minced green onions, soy sauce, Mirin, 5-spice, white pepper, sweet potato starch and cayenne pepper, stir to form a paste and then scrape into the bowl with the chicken. Mix to coat all the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Mix all the marinade ingredients together, and stir together in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken as well.
Stir the chicken pieces into the marinade, and cover. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
Once the chicken is done marinating, place the eggs in medium sized bowl with the 1/2 cup of water. Beat together with a fork. Place the sweet potato starch in another medium sized bowl.
I had an egg white in the fridge today. so used just that instead of a whole egg.
Heat the frying oil in a sauté pan or wok until it reaches 350˚F. Using chopsticks or tongs, dip the chicken first in the watery egg mixture then in the starch and fry the chicken pieces without crowding them too much for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Try not to overcrowd the pan, I usually fry about 6-8 pieces at a time in the wok and 8 – 10 pieces in my 10” sauté pan.
Don’t overcrowd the oil or the temperature will drop.
Season with the salt and white pepper as soon as it comes out of the fryer.
Make a dipping sauce to take this over the top. Combine sweet soy sauce, spicy oil, a bit of sesame oil, sliced garlic and green onions.
I found this recipe on a great website, “Eat the love”, and it’s perfect. My only addition is the dipping sauce. I’m hope that I can also find the sweet potato starch he uses, but so far I’ve only been able to find regular potato starch.