Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with Fried Basil

Difficulty Medium

A popular street food snack, Asian Night Market favorite, or bubble tea cafe menu item: Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken! Small nuggets of crispy fried chicken. Seasoned with mouth-tingling Sichuan peppercorns. And topped with a generous amount of aromatic fried basil. Yes, you can make this at home!

What is Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken?

Out of all the different kinds of fried chicken in the world, Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken is one of the greats.

Tender chunks of marinated chicken. A light, crispy batter. A savory dusting of spice. And all those fragrant Thai basil leaves. YUM!

Amazingly, Taiwanese Fried Chicken is also easy to make at home. The key to mimic that brittle, crunchy texture is a combination of coarse tapioca starch, potato starch, and egg white. Together, they create a light and irresistible crispiness.

More fried chicken recipes: Hawaiian Mochiko Fried Chicken, Korean Fried Chicken, and Korean Fried Chicken Salad with Persimmon.

A tasty snack, a snacky dinner, a crowd-pleasing appetizer, or a popular game day favorite — a big heaping platter of crunchy Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken is hard to beat!

Ingredients

  • Chicken. Dark meat is better for extra flavorful, juicy fried chicken. Look for boneless chicken thighs and/or chicken legs. If possible, look for skin-on chicken. The little bit of skin keeps the chicken moist and flavorful.
  • Marinade: Five Spice Powder, Garlic Powder, Ground Ginger, Sugar, Soy Sauce, and Shaoxing Wine. Asian pantry ingredients. For an easy, fast, and flavorful marinade.
  • Coarse Tapioca Starch. To create that bubbly, extra-crispy batter, you’ll need Coarse Tapioca Starch. If you can’t find it, regular tapioca starch or sweet potato starch also works.
  • Potato Starch. Absorbs excess moisture and adds extra crunch. Can be swapped with corn starch.
  • Egg white. Better than a whole egg to create that brittle texture. Do not include the yolk — it contains fat that will make the chicken less crisp.
  • Thai Basil. Lots of this fragrant and delicious herb is essential. Taiwanese Fried Chicken is not the same without it!
  • Spice Mix. At the end, toss the fried chicken with a spice mix. To make it easy, use Fly By Jing‘s Mala Spice Mix. Or, make your own spice blend with Sichuan peppercorns, garlic powder, ground cumin, salt, and sugar (recipe below).
  • Oil. For deep frying, choose any neutral oil with a high smoke point: avocado oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil.

How to make Taiwanese Fried Chicken

  1. Cut chicken. Chop chicken into small 1-inch chunks. If you can, leave a bit of chicken skin on each piece.
  2. Marinate chicken. In a large bowl, add bite-sized pieces of chicken. Add soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, Five Spice powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, white pepper, and sugar. Mix gently until well combined.
  3. Deep fry chicken. Set up a Dutch Oven with 1-2 inches of vegetable oil and a candy thermometer clipped to the side. When the temperature reaches 350F/176C, deep fry the chicken until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Fry in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Transfer crispy chicken to a cooling rack fitted over a sheet pan.
  4. *Double fry the chicken. For best results, deep fry the chicken twice. After frying the chicken the first time, deep fry again until deep golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Deep fry basil. Remove basil from the stems. Add basil to the hot oil, being careful of the oil splatter. Deep fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer fried basil to the cooling rack.
  6. Add spice mix. In a large bowl, add the fried chicken. Sprinkle the white pepper and Spice Mix all over the top. Toss the chicken a few times in the bowl, until well coated with the spice mix.
  7. *To make spice mix: Crush sichuan peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Or, place in a ziploc baggie and smash into bits with a rolling pin. Combine with the salt, sugar, and ground cumin.
  8. Serve. Transfer to a plate. Top with the fried basil. Enjoy immediately!

PRO Tips

  • Cut into small bite-sized pieces. Small chunks of chicken cook up more crispy and crunchy than big pieces.
  • Transfer cooked chicken to a cooling rack. A cooling rack fitted over a sheet rack will drain excess oil from the chicken. It will also allow air to circulate around and under it, keeping it extra crisp.
  • Set up a deep frying station. To make deep frying at home easier, set up a Dutch oven with a candy thermometer clipped to the side. It will make it easier to check the heat of the oil.
  • Add enough oil. For deep fried flavor and crunch, you’ll need 1-2 inches of oil so the chicken pieces float.

FAQ:

How do I store leftovers?

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container. Keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. To reheat, cook in the Air Fryer for 6 minutes at 380F. Make sure to shake the basket!

Can I cook this in the Air Fryer?

Yes, Taiwanese Fried Chicken can be cooked in the Air Fryer. Spray generously with oil and cook at 400F for 12 minutes. Make sure to shake the basket!

More recipes

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with Fried Basil

Lis Lam
A popular street food snack, Asian Night Market favorite, or bubble tea cafe menu item: Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken! Small nuggets of crispy fried chicken. Seasoned with mouth-tingling Sichuan peppercorns. And topped off with a generous amount of aromatic fried basil. Yes, you can make this at home!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Casual Party, Dinner, Snack, Superbowl Party Food
Cuisine Asian, Taiwanese
Servings 4
Calories 120 kcal

Equipment

  • 2 Large Bowl (1 for marinating, 1 for tossing the chicken)
  • Dutch oven
  • Cooling rack
  • sheet pan

Ingredients
  

Chicken Marinade:

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs and legs *boneless, preferably with skin on
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tsp Five Spice Powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

To fry chicken:

  • 1 egg white
  • 3/4 cup coarse tapioca starch
  • 2 Tbsp potato starch *can be subbed with corn starch

Seasoning:

  • 1 1/2 cups Thai basil
  • 1-2 Tbsp Fly By Jing Mala Spice Mix *can be swapped with homemade spice mix, see below
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

Homemade Spice Mix:

  • 1/2 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Instructions
 

  • Cut chicken. Chop chicken into small 1-inch chunks. If you can, leave a bit of chicken skin on each piece.
  • Marinate chicken. In a large bowl, add bite-sized pieces of chicken. Add soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, Five Spice powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, white pepper, and sugar. Mix gently until well combined.
  • Deep fry chicken. Set up a Dutch Oven with 1-2 inches of vegetable oil and a candy thermometer clipped to the side. When the temperature reaches 350F/176C, deep fry the chicken until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Fry in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Transfer crispy chicken to a cooling rack fitted over a sheet pan.
  • *Double fry the chicken. For best results, deep fry the chicken twice. After frying the chicken the first time, deep fry again until deep golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Deep fry basil. Remove basil from the stems. Add basil to the hot oil, being careful of the oil splatter. Deep fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Transfer fried basil to the cooling rack.
  • Add spice mix. In a large bowl, add the fried chicken. Sprinkle the white pepper and Spice Mix all over the top. Toss the chicken a few times in the bowl, until well coated with the spice mix.
  • *To make spice mix: Crush sichuan peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Or, place in a ziploc baggie and smash into bits with a rolling pin. Combine with the salt, sugar, and ground cumin.
  • Serve. Transfer to a plate. Top with the fried basil. Enjoy immediately!

Video

Notes

Pro Tips:
  • Cut into small bite-sized pieces. Small chunks of chicken cook up more crispy and crunchy than big pieces.
  • Transfer cooked chicken to a cooling rack. A cooling rack fitted over a sheet rack will drain excess oil from the chicken. It will also allow air to circulate around and under it, keeping it extra crisp.
  • Set up a deep frying station. To make deep frying at home easier, set up a Dutch oven with a candy thermometer clipped to the side. It will make it easier to check the heat of the oil.
  • Add enough oil. For deep fried flavor and crunch, you’ll need 1-2 inches of oil so the chicken pieces float.

Nutrition

Calories: 120kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 3gFat: 0.5gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 519mgPotassium: 131mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 324IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Fried, Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
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30 minutes, All Recipes, Appetizer, Asian, Chicken, Deep Fry, Dinner with Friends, Game Day Food, Holiday, Main, Snacks, Weeknight Meals

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