Monday, May 14, 2018

Cantonese cheesy fried chicken

Guangdong is home to some of the best southern fried chicken around. Yes, Georgia and Alabama and all the rest of our own Deep South can fairly lay claim to superb fried birds.

But think about this: you marinate the chicken in a wine-infused cheesy sauce before coating it in cornstarch. Then, you fry it up nice and crunchy, then toss it with green onions and salt. Sitting down to a summer supper that stars this dish would be one even your beloved grandma would be proud to call her own!

You can use storebought nanru or use homemade. If you have never made bean curd cheese before, this is a good excuse to start. Think of brie crossed with red wine. Oh yes.
Toss in cornstarch one by one

Not much work at all here. This is pure deliciousness.

Cheesy fried chicken
Nánrŭ zhájī  南乳炸雞
Serves 6

12 chicken wings (about 2 pounds | 1 kg), preferably free range
3 cubes red bean curd cheese (nanru), plus 1 tablespoon of the sauce
¼ cup mild rice wine (Taiwan Mijiu)
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
Frying oil (used ok if it smells good)
1 cup | 180 g cornstarch
Coarse sea salt, to taste
1 finely chopped green onion
Fry till crunchy and gold

1. Start this recipe at least 7 hours before you plan to serve it to give the wings time to marinate. Pat the wings dry and cut them between the drumstick and the second section. Leave the wingtips on, if you like.

2. In a medium work bowl, mash the bean curd cheese with the sauce and rice wine. Add the ginger and the chicken, toss lightly, cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours and up to a day or so to fully marinate the wings.

3. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with tempura or parchment paper and heat your oven to 275°C | 135°C. Just before serving, pour about 1 inch | 2 cm frying oil in a wok and set it over medium-high heat. 

Yes, you want this
4. Place the cornstarch in a work bowl and toss the wings in the starch, one at a time, so that they become fully covered. Lightly shake off any extra cornstarch, and then slide the wing into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the wok, so cook around 6 pieces at a time. Adjusting the heat as necessary, fry them on both sides until they are golden brown, around 7 minutes. Make sure no blood seeps out of the cut ends, as that means the chicken isn’t fully cooked yet. 

5. Transfer the cooked chicken to the baking sheet, sprinkle with some salt and green onions, and repeat with the rest of the chicken until done. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, if you like. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

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