Whenever I run out of ideas of what to do with chicken, I turn to recipes from the Orient. This quick and easy dish comes from the book Yoshoku: Contemporary Japanese by Australian chef and writer Jane Lawson. It’s a tasty tidbit to serve as cocktail snack, or do as I did and add it to a salad of watercress, baby spinach, cucumber, avocado and sun dried tomato, with crisp ‘n’crunchy bean sprouts and shredded spring onion as garnish. They are irresistible and I’m certain the recipe will become one of your favourites too. I’ve adapted Jane’s recipe by omitting the sake and lessening the amount of chicken.
Nori are the seaweed sheets most often used to wrap around maki sushi – Woolies and Pick & Pay sell it, or you could try an Oriental deli. Ask for nori flakes if you’re shopping at the latter, because making your own is a bit of an effort. I forgot to buy some, so made my own nori flakes by snipping up 5 sheets into thin strips with some scissors, toasting them until crispy in a dry frying pan and then chopping up in a food processor. Shake the pan over a high flame while toasting the nori strips, to make sure they roast evenly. They turn a lighter browny green and smell nutty when ready. To make the chopping/grinding easier in the processor, add the flour and pepper flakes along with the nori. Don’t give up, though, the end results are so delicious you’ll be glad you persevered! If all that is too much bother, just wrap a strip of nori around the chicken before rolling it in the flour and then frying.
Serves 3-4 as a snack
500g chicken breast fillets or deboned thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
50ml Japanese (light) soy sauce
50 ml mirin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirin – like rice wine, but lower alcohol content. Use dry sherry instead
100ml sake – Japanese rice wine (optional)
1 T (15ml) finely grated fresh ginger and its juice
1 t (5ml) crushed garlic (I didn’t have any so left it out and prefer the taste that way)
sunflower oil for deep-frying
2 T (30ml) sesame oil for deep-frying (add to sunflower oil)
1 cup (250ml) Maizena, potato flour or tempura flour
2 T (30ml) nori flakes
1/2 t (2.5ml) red pepper flakes (optional)
lemon or lime wedges, to serve
1. Mix soy sauce, mirin and ginger (plus sake and garlic if using) and pour over chicken pieces in a bowl. Refrigerate for npot more than an hour – the marinade becomes too strong after that. Drain and discard marinade.
2. Mix flour, nori flakes and red pepper flakes.
3. Toss chicken pieces in seasoned flour until well coated and deep fry a handful of pieces at a time until golden brown, crispy and cooked through. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper and serve with a dip of your choice.