Aida Mollenkamp’s Taiwanese Nights Market Popcorn Chicken

Aida Mollenkamp’s Taiwanese Nights Market Popcorn Chicken


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken (dark or white meat), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 ½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper divided
  • 5 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 large egg yolk lightly beaten
  • 1 cup brown rice flour or potato flour
  • canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil for frying
  • pinch chili powder for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 bunch Thai basil for garnish


  1. Mix the chicken with the soy, wine, sesame oil, sugar, half of each the Five-Spice powder and white pepper, and all the garlic. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, stir cornstarch and egg yolk into the chicken mixture.
  3. Put the flour on a large, flat plate and mix.
  4. Add the chicken to the flour, toss to coat evenly, then knock off any excess flour.
  5. Let the chicken rest while the oil heats up (at least 5 minutes) — this will help the coating adhere better.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together the remaining five-spice powder with the white pepper, salt, and chili powder and set aside.
  7. Fill a heavy-bottomed pot or wok with 1-inch of oil and heat to 375°F over medium-high heat.
  8. Add enough of the chicken to form a single layer in the pan (about half) and cook until it is golden brown on all sides (you’ll need to do this in multiple batches), about 3 to 5 minutes per batch.
  9. Transfer the fried chicken out on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil and immediately season with the salt mixture. Repeat with remaining chicken.

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