Chickens pecking about the countryside is a common sight in China, and their free-range flavour is coveted by home cooks and restaurant kitchens alike. Darker cuts of chicken and cooking on the bone are favoured in Chinese cuisine – the bone imparts great flavour and the flesh remains succulent. The jiao liu (deep-fried) style of cooking is popular in Cantonese-speaking regions, and these crispy, bite-sized chicken pieces are delicious. Seasoned with a sprinkling of fresh ginger and finely sliced spring onions, with sizzling sesame oil poured over the top, the chicken is marinated in shaoxing wine prior to cooking.
- 1.8 kg whole chicken, cut into 12 pieces (see Note)
- 125 ml (½ cup) Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) (see Note) or dry sherry
- vegetable oil, to deep-fry
- 35 g (¼ cup) potato flour*
- 20 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
- 4 thin spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 60 ml (¼ cup) sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce combined with 2 tsp water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 30 minutes
Drink match Matilda Bay Minimum Chips Golden Lager, Port Melbourne, VIC (345ml, $4)
Place chicken in a shallow bowl with shoaxing. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinate. Drain and pat dry.
Fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan one-third full with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat to 170 °C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds). Place potato flour in a shallow bowl and coat chicken pieces, shaking off excess. Working in 3 batches, gently drop chicken into oil and fry, turning halfway, for 8 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel, then place on a serving dish. Scatter with ginger and spring onions. Set aside and keep warm.
Heat sesame oil in a small saucepan over high heat until starting to smoke. Immediately pour over chicken, then pour over soy mixture. Serve immediately.
• Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) and potato flour are both available from Asian food shops. Potato flour is also available from health food shops.
• Jointing chicken into 12: using poultry shears, cut legs and thighs from chicken, and cut thighs into 2 pieces each. Remove breasts and cut into thirds, then remove wings and reserve for another use.
Photography Alan Benson