Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a mouthwatering street food made with fun bite-sized chicken thighs and seasoned to perfection with a blend of Chinese five spice powder and flavorful seasoning. The aromatic Thai basil adds a refreshing twist to this addictive dish!
Use my homemade Chinese five spice powder in this Taiwanese popcorn chicken. A homemade version with a mix of spices will elevate your popcorn chicken!
- Why you'll love this recipe
- What is Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken?
- What Does Taiwanese Fried Chicken Taste Like
- How to Make Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
- Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- What to Eat with Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
- Storing Leftovers
- Top Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
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- Recipe Card
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Why you'll love this recipe
- Irresistible crunch: Bite into the perfect balance of golden-brown exterior and juicy chicken pieces with this Taiwanese popcorn chicken.
- Versatile snacking: Enjoy bite-sized pieces of tender chicken as a savory snack or a delightful addition to your holiday recipes.
- It's kid-friendly and a favorite among adults.
- A perfect appetizer or delicious on its own!
What is Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken?
Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a popular street food snack known for its bite-sized pieces of well-seasoned, crispy, and juicy chicken. This dish has become a culinary sensation, offering an irresistible combination of savory flavors with hints of garlic, white pepper, and the aromatic touch of Thai basil.
What Does Taiwanese Fried Chicken Taste Like
Taiwanese fried chicken is incredibly delicious! It has a crispy, golden-brown exterior that is perfectly seasoned with a combination of spices like salt, pepper, and garlic. The meat inside is juicy and tender, making each bite incredibly satisfying. The flavors are savory and slightly salty, with a hint of heat from the spices.
It's a popular street food in Taiwan because it's simply addictive!
- Skinless chicken thighs. Chicken thigh is the popular meat used for Taiwanese popcorn chicken as it has a bit more fat, adding extra flavor. Use chicken breast for a leaner cut.
- Five-spice powder. The seasoning of five spice powders is important for this recipe. Use my homemade five spice powder recipe for even more flavorful spice flavors.
- Soy sauce. For marinating the chicken before coating it in tapioca starch.
- Oyster sauce. It is the ultimate umami sauce. Use any brand available. Read more about different sauces used in Thai and Asian cooking here.
- Thai basil leaves. Fresh Thai basil leaves are quickly deep-fried before sprinkling in with fried chicken. Read more about Thai herbs here.
- White pepper. Black or Sichuan peppercorns can be used, too. Ground to powder if using whole peppercorns. Read more about different types of spices here.
- Sugar. White sugar is best, as we will combine it with the tapioca flour for coating.
- Salt. Salt is added to season the tapioca coating.
- Tapioca starch. This is where the crispy coating on the chicken is made! Use corn starch, coarse sweet potato flour (Sweet potato starch), or jasmine rice flour as substitutes.
- Oil. Use Neutral-tasting oil for deep frying.
- Granulated Chicken powder soup base. It's my twist of flavor explosions to the recipe. Without it, I find the flavors a little flat. See the image below for reference. These can be found in Asian markets too.
How to Make Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
Step 1: Marinade the chicken. *We will be using the same dry seasoning in the tapioca starch mixture. Save ¼ of the five spice powders: salt, sugar, chicken powder, and white peppercorn.*
Cut the chicken pieces into 1 ½-inch bite-sized pieces and combine oyster sauce, soy sauce, five-spice powder, salt, garlic powder, egg, sugar, and chicken powder soup base. Mix well and allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Marinate for 2-3 hours, if possible, for an even more flavorful chicken!
Step 2: Make the tapioca starch mixture for coating. Add the remaining five spices: powder, sugar, salt, white pepper, and chicken powder to the tapioca starch. Mix well. A medium-sized bowl is handy for this mixture.
Step 3: Coating the chicken with starch. Coat the marinated chicken pieces with a tapioca starch mixture. Make sure each bite-sized delight is well-coated and ready for frying.
No need to shake off the excess starch as all of that will add to the texture.
Step 4: Fry to perfection. Heat neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point in a medium pot or a small Dutch oven. Deep fry the chicken until it turns golden brown and attains an irresistible crispiness. It takes about 3-5 minutes.
Don't over-crown the pot of oil, or your chicken will be soggy. Fry them in batches. Place the cooked chicken over a lined paper towel or a rack to allow excess oil to drip off.
Step 5: Thai basil infusion. Get the Thai basil leaves ready for a quick deep frying. They cook fast, so be ready with a wire-mesh skimmer to scoop the leaves out.
Fry them for only 20-30 seconds, and remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
Allow the chicken to cool, and add crispy Thai basil leaves to the fried chicken. Sprinkle the leaves on the chicken, and your Taiwanese chicken is ready to enjoy!
Step 6: Serve and enjoy. Serve your Taiwanese popcorn chicken as a standalone snack or serve it as the main dish, side dish, or holiday recipe for an added burst of flavor.
Helpful Kitchen Notes and Tips
- Use high-quality chicken for the best texture and flavor. Chicken thigh, a more flavorful chicken meat, is a popular choice for this recipe.
- Experiment with different types of oil to find the one that suits your taste buds.
- A splatter guard is helpful when frying the chicken.
What to Eat with Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
Serve Taiwanese popcorn chicken as a standalone snack or a side dish, or incorporate it into your favorite recipes to add a unique twist to traditional dishes.
Experiment with the flavor profile by adjusting the amount of five-spice powder, Sichuan peppercorns, or Thai basil to cater to your taste preferences.
If tapioca starch is not available, you can substitute it with sweet potato starch, corn starch, rice flour, or another starchy alternative.
While Taiwanese popcorn chicken is best enjoyed fresh, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat in an air fryer or oven to restore its crispiness.
- For an even cooking result, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces to resemble the size of popcorn, ensuring a harmonious balance of savory flavor.
- For added flavors, make your own five spice powder! It's more fresh and flavorful!
- Chicken powder adds a pop of flavor to the chicken!
Frequently Asked Questions
Taiwanese popcorn chicken stands out for its combination of juicy meat, a crunchy exterior, and a flavorful blend of spices, making it a super popular street food snack.
Taiwanese popcorn chicken features lightly spicy notes, thanks to the inclusion of white pepper and Sichuan peppercorns. Adjust the spice level to your personal preference.
Taiwanese popcorn chicken is best cooked deep-fried to get the coasted crispy golden exterior.
Use an oil with a high smoke point, like peanut oil or avocado oil, to achieve the perfect crispiness during deep frying.
Taiwanese popcorn chicken, also known as "a Su Ji," is a popular street food in Taiwan that originated in the 1970s. Its inventor is unknown, but it quickly gained popularity among locals and international audiences!
It varies depending on the size of the chicken pieces, the cooking method, and the ingredients used for the batter. On average, 1 cup serving of Taiwanese popcorn chicken is around 185-250 calories.
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