I have conducted what-is-your-favourite-food surveys in my classes, and Fried Salty Chicken has been in the first place for many years, of which its popularity can be seen. Fried Salty Chicken Fillet and Fried Salty Short Ribs, which feature similar flavours as Fried Salty Chicken, have become more and more popular in the recent years. Although nutritionists remind us daily that “do not over-consume deep fried foods,” the temptation is hard to resist.
I remember a joke when it comes to the topic of nutrition: my junior female classmate is a teacher of another school, and and her colleague, who shares the same office with her, is a strict health watcher. Whoever wants to eat fried chicken or similar food will be scolded by this colleague till death. One day, this fellow colleague took a day off, and everyone laughed so hard when they noticed each other's lunch – almost everyone bought Fried Chicken Fillet for lunch!
Vegetable oil does not contain cholesterol. However, it is more unstable while cooking. It is not only easier to produce smoke and grease while deep-frying (as known as a low smokey point), but also is more easily to become sticky and dark after using it for a long time. Animal fat contains cholesterol and palm oil is extremely high with saturated fatty acids, which are both harmful to health.
From the analysis earlier, it seems that it is more healthy to eat homemade deep-fried foods, as we always use vegetable oil. The major reason is that we would use vegetable oil to deep fry foods for one time only, and then would use it for cooking (such as pan-frying, sauteing, stir-frying and so on), which can prevent us from consuming multi-use deep-frying oil. (Note: The deep-frying vegetable oil used for only one time is still fresh, and can be called as “cooked oil,” which can make tastier dishes than “raw oil,” meaning the oil never been used before.)
There are several tips for deep-frying foods if you do not make them often:
First of all, you can sprinkle some batter, tapioca flour, potato flour or similar ingredients to tell the oil temperature in your deep-frying pot. If it sinks to the bottom, it means that the temperature is very low; when it flows up and down in the middle, it shows the medium temperature and usually is the best time to deep fry your food; if it boils on the surface, it means the temperature is very high.
Secondly, the oil temperature depends on the food size. The bigger the food is, the oil temperature has to be lower, which will take a longer time to fry your food. For example, it may take 20 minutes to deep fry a whole chicken till crispy in a low oil temperature. On the other hand, it only takes a few minutes to deep fry chicken nuggets on a high or medium heat. (Note: You have to fry chicken nuggets on a high heat, but you cannot do it when it comes to Fried Salty Chicken because the marinated ingredients, soy sauces and sugar, can be easily burned.)
The third tip is to turn up to a high heat before taking your food out of the frying pot. By rising the oil temperature, the fat or oil in your food can be forced out; otherwise, there would be a lot of grease in your food, which can cause a soft and greasy taste.
Also, the oil temperature cannot be too low when frying foods with a layer of batter, or the batter will fall apart.
The tips described above are the reasons why chefs deep fry their foods in a “Finnish Sauna” or “Two-phase” way:
It is not difficult to understand the idea of “Finnish Sauna.” For instance, when deep frying a large piece of pork chops with bones, you put it into your frying pan with a medium temperature, allowing the batter to stay with the pork. Then, you turn to a low heat, which can allow you to fry your food thoroughly without burning it. At the end, you turn up to a high heat and fry the pork until golden, crispy and not greasy before serving.
The “Two-phase” way is a business technique. For street vendors who sells Fried Salty Chicken, they need to prepare ahead of time. They often fry their chicken in large quantities with a medium heat and take them out when almost cooked. Therefore, customers do not have to wait for a long time for fresh servings, as the vendors will deep fry each portion individually with a high heat until golden and crispy when an order comes in.
At last, there are two more reminders:
When you see your food changes its colour slightly, you have to get it out of the frying pot immediately because the remaining heat of the oil will keep cooking your food and make its colour deeper.
Get rid of as much oil as you can before serving. Putting a piece of kitchen napkin on your plate can help, or placing your food on a rack and let the oil drop. This way, it can prevent your food from getting soft and greasy due to the steam and grease accumulating between your food and the plate.
Non-homemade fried chicken usually contains an additive called phosphate acid, which is the reason why it tastes more springy than homemade one.
I am going to introduce the Fried Salty Chicken recipe at last. Please pay attention that this recipe has half amount of sugar and MSG (see note 1) comparing to the night market version, so the dish will taste less sweeter. Please do not use heavy flavoured soy sauce (such as the brand Kimlan) (see note 2), or you have to add less. When the cooked chicken is cold, it is better to bake it in the oven when serving again. It would make the chicken crispy again and more oil can be forced out, which is more healthy.
Recipe for Fried Salty Chicken and Fried Salty Short Ribs
light soy sauce 2 tbsp or heavy soy sauce 1 tbsp
MSG or its substitute ½ tsp(optional)
sugar 2 tsp
white ground pepper & five spice powder ½ tsp each
minced garlic 2 tsp
tapioca flour 1 tbsp
enough tapioca flour
prepare a small pot for frying, and fill it half full with vegetable oil
1) Cut the chicken into chunks and stir with the marinated sauce. Leave it for at least 1 hour.
2) Evenly spread the tapioca flour on a baking sheet, and use a pair of chopsticks, a fork or a spoon to wrap the chicken chunks with a layer of it. When finished, you can rub the chicken with dry hands so the tapioca flour can be more tightly wrapped with the meat.
3) Heat the oil, and deep fry the chicken thoroughly on a medium oil temperature. Take the chicken out, and completely get rid of the oil.
4) If you want a heavier flavour, add some pepper and salt or red chili powder.
Lee Kum Kee (LKK) produces light soy sauce, which can be found in Asian or Chinese markets, and sometimes can be seen in Western supermarkets as well.
You can choose chicken breast or chicken thighs according to your preference, and it does not matter if the meat is with bones or skin. But, it is better to use ordinary chicken (meaning not organic, free-range ones) so that the texture can be more tender.
If you change chicken to short ribs, then it will be Fried Salty Short Ribs (see the picture below). It is the best to choose ordinary pork (not the meat from special species) as its texture is more tender and you need to marinate for longer. The most important point is that the pork has to be lean and cannot contain any fat. It does not matter when you simmer it or deep fry it without tapioca flour. However, if you fry your fatty short ribs with a layer of tapioca flour, the fat in the meat will be sealed by the tapioca flour plus the flour itself will absorb oil, it will taste greasy!
Recipe for Fried Salty Mushrooms
batter—all-purpose flour 50g
baking powder ½ tsp
salt ¼ tsp
fresh white mushrooms or oyster mushrooms 300g
prepare a small pot for frying, and fill it half full with vegetable oil
salt and pepper & red chili powder to your taste
1) Prepare the batter in advance by mixing the ingredients well together.
2) Wash then dry the mushrooms, and cut them into chunks.
3) Heat the oil, wrap the mushroom chunks with a layer of batter and deep fry them on a high heat. When they are cooked, take them out and get rid of the oil completely.
4) Add salt and pepper before serving, if you want, add some red chili powder as well. Eat them while hot.
This batter is very light, fluffy and crispy after deep frying. The reason is that the batter has oil as well water. Since water and oil do not blend, the oil will break down the doughy structure while deep frying and makes the batter become fluffy and crispy, which cannot achieve just by adding baking powder.
Because oil and water do not blend, they will separate when the mixed batter stands for a long time, which is alright. Just stir and you can use it again.
This fluffy batter will absorb more oil, which can lead to a greasy taste. Fortunately, there is no fat in mushrooms so the oil in the batter matches them well. In order to avoid the greasy taste, you must use a high heat to fry the mushrooms in a very short period of time. The oil temperature must be higher than the one needed for Fried Salty Chicken and Fried Salty Short Ribs. Nonetheless, mushrooms are easily cooked and do not get burned so easily as there is no soy sauce with it.