How to make Chinese food Cantonese “Fry Roast” Chicken? Everyone that loves food has their happy place.
For some, that might be a late night street doner kebob; for others, it might be slurping pho on a plastic chair in the middle of a Vietnam street.
But I think everyone has that one spot where you can just shelve whatever else might be going on in your life, and just… exhale.
Living here in Guangdong?
How To Make Chinese Food Cantonese “fry Roast” Chicken?
For us that place has always meant a Cantonese daipaidong, a place where you can sit outside, eat and drink late into the muggy sub-tropical nights.
And ever since we moved to Shunde, there’s one daipaidong in particular that’s quickly become our favorite neighborhood spot.
They’ve got a lot of the standard fare, all done excellently, and there’s one dish that we find ourselves ordering again and again – their jianjuji or fry-roast chicken.
So kind of on a whim one day, I asked them if I could go back into the kitchen and see how they made it.
And they… ended up being ridiculously nice and actually just straight up taught us.
So we wanted to try something a little bit different today.
Because this recipe is 100% a re-creation of their jianjuji, we figured we’d also share the original video of them teaching us as well.
We slapped on some English subs, and we’ll link that for you at the end of the video.
To make some fry-roast chicken, you’ll need chicken.
This was a half a bird, about 600 grams worth, cleaved into small one and a half inch pieces across the bone.
Now, we did test this with some boneless thighs as well.
And frankly speaking, it.. came.. out.. completely perfect.
But it did kinda feel like the dish lost a bit of its soul somehow.
So assuming that buying a pre-cleaved half chicken is a bit on the annoying side, this is what we’d personally do if we were using the chicken available abroad.
Get a chicken leg.
First separate the thigh from the drumstick, and from each, cut out the boneless meaty bits and slice those into about one and a half inch chunks.
Now we’re left with the meat remaining along the bone.
So using the bottom bit of the cleaver, chop down with force across the bone to get it into similar sized chunks.
I think going this route also feels like a nice compromise between the bone-in and bone-out crowds. but again, boneless thigh also worked fine if you don’t feel like busting out the cleaver.
Next up, the marinade.
Now this marinade was a bit different than the sort of ‘standard’ marinade that we generally give out, because this one’s also giving the chicken a sort of base flavor.
This was a half teaspoon salt, a half teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, and an eighth teaspoon each of sugar and MSG.
This marinade is super light on the sugar in order to prevent it from scorching.
We’ll also toss in a quarter teaspoon white pepper powder, a teaspoon of cornstarch, a teaspoon of light soy sauce, and a teaspoon of chili oil.
The chili oil was kind of a surprise for me but it really does work quite well here.
we used homemade, they used bottled, and in a pinch I think you could probably swap that with some cayenne pepper.
Then just coat with a tablespoon of peanut oil, give it a good mix, and set that aside for at least fifteen minutes.
Then besides that, there’s honestly not much else to really prep.
We’ve also got half a green mild chili and a red mild chili, both cut into diamonds, and you could swap those for bell pepper if you need… about five scallions, white part only. an inch of ginger, sliced into sheets.
one large garlic clove, also sliced. and a bit of white onion, an’ I know I’m chopping this kinda weird, but that’s because we only need about eight to ten pieces.
And that’s… honestly it.
This dish is the newest member of our honorary Western supermarket club.
Now, to fry this, you’re gunna need a large, flat skillet.
While we did end up picking up a cast iron just for this recipe, unfortunately the seasoning just… wasn’t ready for prime time.
So today we’ll be frying this on a… large non-stick skillet, which’s actually also what the restaurant used.
I know that that goes against a lot of the prevailing wisdom in foodie circles, so stay with me here.
It seems like if you talk to a lot of people, they’ll insist that using a non-stick at any flame above, I dunno, medium low is basically akin to gassing yourself in your own kitchen.
Here’s the thing.
Teflon starts to degrades at 260 centigrade and melts at about 330.
That’s higher than the smoke point of most oils.
We’re not gunna even get close to those temperatures.
And to prove it to you.
I’ll keep my infrared thermometer handy through the whole process, which might actually be best practice here anyhow.
First heat your pan – either a non-stick or a well-seasoned cast iron – over a medium flame until a bit of water can sizzle away.
This is the hottest our pan’ll get during the whole process, or about 180 Celsius.
Then add your chicken pieces, break them up a bit, and swap the flame to high.
Let that fry for about 20 seconds, then tilt your pan to the side and go for 20 more seconds on each side,for about a minute and a half total.
This is so that the chicken browns evenly… this’s the “jian” or pan-fry portion of this method.
Then swap the flame to medium low, and cover.
This part is the “ju” or roasting step – the covered pan’ll help the chicken cook through.
After about two minutes, or maybe three if your chicken pieces are a bit bigger, uncover and swap the flame back to high.
Note that we didn’t actually need to add any oil here because the marinade already had some and the skin’ll also render out some schmaltz… but if you’re working with something skinless you’ll probably need to add a swirl of oil.
What you’re looking for is the chicken pieces to be nice and maillard-y, so once you’ve reached that point, about thirty seconds more for us, flip the chicken pieces… which Ilike doing off the heat.
Give that a 90 second fry in the same manner as before, and FYI our surface temperate here still isn’t anywhere close to 260.
Now add your garlic and ginger… continue frying until the other side’s also nice and golden, about 90 seconds more… and add in the onions and chilis.
Quick 30 second fry, season with a quarter teaspoon salt and an eighth teaspoon black pepper. another quick 30 second fry, and out.
Fry roast chicken done.
For jianju, fry roast, besides chicken you can also use pork ribs… which my Dad often
made when I was growing up and it’s one of my favorite dishes.
Besides that you can also do fish, or even frog.
Here in Shunde, it’s a very popular dish here… and you can see it at almost every
restaurant, so I hope you can give it a try.
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