Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken or Yan Su Ji as some may call it, is a popular street food dish that is loved all over Taiwan. It’s crispy, tender, juicy and bursting with tons of flavor. It’s a simple recipe to make and one that will definitely impress your friends and family.
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken / Yan Su Ji / 鹽酥雞 is one of my most favorite things to eat whenever I am visiting the country of Taiwan. You can literally find tons of shops and vendors all around selling this delicious snack. Although for most of my experience, I had it typically at many of the night markets around the country.
I remember whenever I would go to these night markets, I would constantly make a bee line towards any vendor that was selling these popcorn chicken snacks. There would usually be a huge line of people waiting as well, all wanting to get their hands on this delicious snack. Plus the vendors sell it for a really cheap price so almost everybody is going to want one.
It is literally a life changing experience as the popcorn chicken was unlike anything I had ever had before. It blows the American version out of the water.
I tried to look for this everywhere once I came back to the United States. But I was simply unable to find any, or at least ones that made it taste as good as the ones you’ll find back in Taiwan.
So I made it a point to myself to learn how to create this amazing recipe so that I can always make it for myself if I were to crave for them.
Luckily for me, one of my cousins actually works at a night market stand in Taiwan. And she is friends with a lot of the vendors there. So I simply asked her to go ask the vendor for the recipe.
And that is what I’ll be sharing with you today.
I want you all to experience the awesome flavors and joy you’ll get from trying this Taiwanese popcorn chicken snack.
Difference Between Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken And Regular Popcorn Chicken?
If you ever had regular popcorn chicken and also the Taiwanese version of it, then you’ll know that there is quite some differences between the two.
First of all, regular popcorn chicken tends to have a more crispier shell whereas the Taiwan version is only slightly crispy. The reason for this is because regular popcorn chicken uses flour typically all-purpose or something similar. Whereas the Taiwanese version uses sweet potato starch.
Also the regular popcorn chicken doesn’t have a lot of spices or seasonings used with it to help elevate the flavor. Instead, it’ll most commonly be used to pair with sauces like BBQ Sauce, Buffalo, or any other type of sauce.
The Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken / Yan Su Ji / 鹽酥雞 version of this uses many different spices and seasonings like five-spice to help bring out a plethora of flavor in each and every bite. Typically eaten just the way it is, no need for any sauces as the popcorn chicken has enough flavor already.
Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
The ingredients you’ll need to make Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken / Yan Su Ji / 鹽酥雞 are pretty simple to find as well as being cheap to buy.
The ingredients to make this are as followed:
For The Chicken
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast – 1 pound
- Light Soy Sauce – 1 teaspoon
- Five Spice Powder – 1/4 teaspoon
- Salt- 1/4 teaspoon
- Ground White Pepper- 1/4 teaspoon
- Cornstarch- 1/2 teaspoon
For The Breading
- Eggs – 2 Large Eggs slightly beaten
- Water – 1 Cup
- Sweet Potato Starch – 1/2 Cup
- Vegetable Oil – 3 to 4 Cups
- Thai Basil Leaves – A handful
How To Make Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
Making Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken / Yan Su Ji / 鹽酥雞 is a relatively simple process.
The entire process should take about an hour and 15 to 20 minutes to make.
The process to make this dish is as followed:
Take your chicken breast and place it on a cutting board. Then with a knife, cut the chicken breast into smaller pieces. About 1 inch sizes should be good. Then set it aside.
Now grab a large mixing bowl, and add in your soy sauce, five-spice powder, salt, white pepper and cornstarch. This will become your marinade.
Place your cut up chicken breast pieces into the mixing bowl. Mix the chicken pieces around to coat with the marinade. Then cover the bowl and let it sit in the fridge for about an hour or two.
After your chicken has rested, take it out and get ready to fry.
Grab a bowl and crack 2 large eggs into it. Then slightly stir it around for a little bit. After that, pour your water into the egg mixture and stir it again real fast.
Now place your sweet potato starch into a bowl next to your egg mixture.
Using a wok or a pot or any frying tool you have, pour your oil in and turn the heat up to medium high. Once the heat is hot enough, it is time to start cooking.
Grab your chicken pieces and dip it into the egg mixture. Then dip it into the sweet potato starch and coat it around.
Once you have coated your chicken, gently place it into the oil to cook. You can do these in batches or one by one.
While the chicken is frying in the oil, you want to turn it a few times to make sure every side of it gets cooked evenly. Let it cook for about 3 minutes or until it is crisp and golden brown.
Use a slotted spoon and remove the chicken from the oil after it is done cooking and place it onto a plate or a dish.
Repeating the steps until all the chicken is completely cooked. Once all the chicken pieces have been cooked, its time for your Thai basil. Toss the Thai basil into the oil and let it fry until it is crisp and a little bit translucent. Then remove it from the oil.
Season the chicken pieces with some more salt and white pepper and serve immediately with the fried basil leaves.
How To Store/Keep This Dish
Storing these Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken / Yan Su Ji / 鹽酥雞 is a relatively simple thing to do.
Simply use a plastic wrap or something similar and cover the dish. Then place it into the fridge for future eating. Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken can be kept in the fridge for around 3 to 4 days.
Freezing is also an option if you want to freeze it for future eating. Simply cover it up and place it into the freezer. It should stay good for up to 3 to 4 months.
Here are some tips to help make your Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken / Yan Su Ji / 鹽酥雞 into the best version it can possibly be.
- When marinating the chicken, try to marinate for as long as possible. If you have the time, try to let the chicken marinate overnight as it will ensure the chicken to have the best flavor possible.
- Now this recipe uses chicken breast as the main chicken ingredient. However if you want, you can also try thigh meat as it will equally be as delicious.
- One tip you could do is to simply double fry it so that it can get an extra coating of a hard crisp shell.
Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Recipe (鹽酥雞) Yan Su Ji
For The Chicken
- 1 Pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
- 1 Teaspoon Light Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Teaspoon Five-Spice Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cornstarch
For The Breading
- 2 Eggs lightly beaten
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Sweet Potato Starch
- 3 to 4 Cups Vegetable Oil
- 1 Bunch Thai Basil
- Take your chicken breast and place it onto a cutting board. Then with a knife, cut the chicken breast into small pieces about 1 inch big. Then set it aside.
- Grab a large mixing bowl and put in the soy sauce, five-spices, salt, white pepper, and cornstarch. This will be your marinade. Then take your chicken pieces and put them into the mixing bowl. Mix things around until the chicken pieces are all coated with that delicious marinade. Cover the dish and let it sit in the fridge to rest for about 1 hour. Once your chicken has rested for an hour, take it out.
- Grab a bowl and crack your two eggs into it. Then slightly beat the eggs. After that, pour the water into the egg mixture. Then mix it around again and set it aside. While you are doing this, grab another bowl and put the sweet potato starch in it and then set it aside.
- Grab a wok or a pot or any frying device you have and fill it with oil. Turn the heat up to medium high and wait for it to get hot. Once the oil is hot enough, it is time to fry. Grab your chicken piece and dip it into the egg mixture, then dip it into the sweet potato starch and make sure it is completely coated with it. Then put the chicken piece slowly into the oil to fry. You can do this in batches if you want.
- Stir the chicken around in the oil to make sure it gets evenly cooked. You want to fry it for about 3 minutes or until it turns golden brown and crispy. Once the chicken is completely cooked, use a slotted spoon and scoop the chicken out onto a dish. Repeat these steps until all the chicken is completely fried.
- Once your chicken is all gone, take your Thai basil and put it into the oil to fry as well. Let it fry for a bit until it has turned crisp and translucent. Then take it out and plate it onto a dish. Sprinkle some extra salt and white pepper onto the chicken for taste and serve immediately with the fried Thai basil.
Did you try making my Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken / Yan Su Ji / 鹽酥雞? If so, how were they? I would love to hear all about it down in the comment section below or you can connect with my on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram.