Lizzie Mabbott's Chinese Fried Chicken
It's not that often a cookbook comes along that genuinely fulfils an unmet need but Lizzie Mabbott's (aka blogger Hollowlegs) Chinatown Kitchen is one.
For those of you who have been put off trying Chinese and other Asian recipes because you don't know what ingredients to buy or understand how best to use them it's a really useful buy.
Here's one recipe to give you a taster - the most irresistible-sounding fried chicken.
Lizzie writes: "Let’s get one thing straight. Shrimp sauce absolutely stinks.It smells like a thousand rotten prawns, mulched into a jar. It is (probably) that. If you open the jar and take a sniff, your head will jerk back, brow furrowed, as if you’ve been slapped. Something strange happens when you cook with it, though; it changes aroma and becomes mouthwatering. It smells of the seaside, with added toastiness. It becomes appetizing. If there's any way to get you on board with this death-paste, it's fried chicken. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken. Juicy meat and a crunchy, flavoursome exterior are key criteria for success.
Serves 8 as a snack
1kg (2lb 4oz) mixture of chicken thighs and wings
3 tbsp fine shrimp sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, mashed
2 tsp ginger juice (grate fresh root ginger and squeeze the pulp to release the juice)
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp oyster sauce
85g (3oz) potato starch
700ml (1¼ pints) cooking oil
Chop the chicken thighs in half through the bone with a cleaver and place in a bowl. Joint the chicken wings by separating the upper wing from the lower wing and wing tip. Add to the bowl.
Mix together the shrimp sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger juice, Shaoxing wine and oyster sauce, then use it to coat the chicken, mixing well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Ten minutes before cooking, add the potato starch to the chicken and mix well.
Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan to 180°C (350°F). Fry the chicken pieces, in batches, for 8–10 minutes until crisp and browned, turning once. Remove and place on a rack to drain.
Serve with the chilli & ginger sauce below for dipping or homemade or shop-bought sriracha. Lizzie says they would also be good with the Chinese chive breads in the book.
Chilli & ginger sauce
10 large red chillies
5cm (2in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
pinch of salt
1 tsp water
To make the chilli and ginger sauce to accompany the meal, deseed the chillies and chop roughly. Blend in a blender with the ginger, salt and water until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl.
What to drink: I'm thinking of one specific bottle to drink with this: Charles Smith's Kung Fu Girl riesling which I think would suit both the dish and Lizzie perfectly. But any off-dry riesling would do. A good lager or a fresh citrussy cocktail would be other alternatives.
Chinatown Kitchen by Lizzie Mabbott is published by Mitchell Beazley at £20. Photographs © David Munns. You can also find Lizzie's recipes and restaurant reviews on her blog Hollow Legs.
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