RECIPE: Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

This special snack is one of Taiwan’s must-have street foods today.

The News Lens
Date: 2017/02/19

Difficulty level: Medium
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Total time: 8 hours (mostly for marinating)

Introduction and history of the dish

Taiwanese “popcorn” chicken (also called salted crispy chicken, or salt and pepper chicken) originated from the northern part of old Tainan City, the culinary center of Taiwan, around 1979. A newly married couple, surnamed Yeh, who worked during the day at the family’s chicken farm, opened a food stand at the well-known An-pin night market, selling KFC style fried chicken, which was very popular in Taiwan at that time. Seeing that it was difficult to eat the American style fried chicken in a convenient and elegant way due to the large size of the pieces, Ms. Yeh cleverly improved the recipe by using mostly boneless meat, cut into smaller pieces, marinated in a sauce, and then coating them in sweet potato flour before frying.

Customers were then able to pick up the bite-sized chicken chunks with thin bamboo sticks (similar to longer toothpicks), and enjoy the delicious snack while keeping their fingers clean. Also different from the American style fried chicken, Ms. Yeh added pepper salt and chili powder to give the chicken an extra kick of flavor. Because of this special salt and pepper taste, Yeh named the dish “salted crispy chicken” (鹽酥雞 | kiâm-soo-ke in Taiwanese | yán-sū-jī in Mandarin). This special snack soon became popular throughout Taiwan and remains one of the country’s must-have street foods today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.