There are so many ways you can prepare fried chicken. Crispy drumsticks, buttermilk-brined whole bird, meaty thighs served with sweet waffles, or pieces transformed into bite-sized popcorn chicken. We flavored our boneless, skinless chicken with five-spice powder, white pepper, and garlic powder for some classic Taiwanese night market flavor—and topped it off with fried fresh herbs for good measure. Thanks to our newly-added proteins, this delicate, flavorful dish just made its way into our weekly dinner rotation for good.Print
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch or 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper, divided
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 cup tapioca flour (or potato starch)
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup fresh leafy herbs like basil, parsley, and/or cilantro
- In a large bowl, season chicken with soy sauce, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons five-spice powder, 1 teaspoon white pepper, garlic powder, and 1 tablespoon salt. Toss to fully coat. Cover bowl then transfer to the fridge and let marinate for at least an hour or overnight. Take chicken out of the fridge 20 minutes before frying, which ensures even cooking.
- Fill a medium pot with enough oil to come 3 inches up the sides, about 4-5 cups. Heat oil over medium until oil looks glossy and has reached 350 degrees.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1 teaspoon five-spice powder, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Set aside.
- Add tapioca flour and 2 teaspoons of water over marinated chicken and toss to coat with your hands. Continue to toss until flour clings to the chicken, adding more water if necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time. (The more tapioca that sticks on the chicken, the crunchier it will be.)
- Working in batches, add chicken to the oil and cook for 4-6 minutes until chicken is fully cooked though and looks browned and crispy on the outside. Remove the chicken with a spider (stainless steel strainer) and transfer to a paper towel-lined cooling rack. Immediately season fried chicken with the spice-and-salt mix and then repeat the cooking process with any remaining chicken.
- Once all of the chicken is fried, carefully place herbs into the oil. Fry for 45-50 seconds until they appear slightly translucent. Remove from oil and place on top of the chicken. Season again with remaining spice and salt mix, then transfer to a plate and serve immediately.