POPCORN CHICKEN THE HEALTHY WAY
My kids absolutely love this dish so I am excited to share it with you. This is Dairy free, Egg free, Nut free, and you can also substitute a couple of ingredients (see below) to make it Soy and Gluten free too! This is the ultimate healthy party food because you can prepare it in advance and just put them in the fridge, and crisp up when you want to eat it.
The secret to success is marinating the chicken overnight with corn starch and water, which tenderises the meat (if you are corn-allergic try swapping for arrowroot powder).
It’s up to you whether you use chicken breast or thigh – either will work, I like thigh because it contains more zinc and iron.
Being a busy mom, I’m always after efficient ways of cooking – Once you’ve done a batch, you can keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days and all you have to do is crisp them up in the oven for 10 minutes to serve. So usually when I make this, I can get 2-3 meals out of it (just increase the chicken and ingredient quantities accordingly)
serves 4 prep time:15 minutes cooking time:25 minutes
1.5 lb (or 700g) boneless chicken (either breast or thigh)
- 1.5 tablespoon soy sauce (substitute with tamari to make it gluten free, or coconut aminos to make it soy AND gluten free)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (if you use coconut aminos you don’t need to add anymore sugar so skip this)
- 1 pinch of white pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh crushed garlic
- 4 tablespoons of water
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
To coat and fry:
2 tablespoon coconut oil
6 tablespoon sweet potato starch (I buy this one pictured here cos I find it works best to give that crunchiness and has the little granules which adds to the texture. You can get it in Chinese supermarkets
- cut the chicken into small pieces
- combine chicken with the soy sauce (or tamari/coconut aminos), salt, sugar, white pepper, garlic powder, water and corn starch and mix well together – really massage and work the mixture.
- leave in fridge to marinate overnight
- when you are ready to cook it, put the sweet potato starch onto a plate.
- heat the coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and switch on oven to 350F. If you have an air fryer (see below), use this instead.
- dip the chicken into the sweet potato starch to coat it – I do 5-6 pieces at a time, otherwise the pan temperature drops too much and the chicken becomes soggy. Drop the coated chicken pieces into heated oil, turning after 2-3 minutes so it is lightly golden all over. I don’t use a lot of oil, but if you find that the pan is getting dry after one batch, add more coconut oil in between.
- transfer to a kitchen towel lined plate while you fry up the other batches.
- once you have shallow fried all the chicken, transfer onto a rack and place in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. I use an air fryer (see below) and that really crisps up the chicken for me perfectly.
I serve it topped with some chopped cilantro (coriander), rice and veg for the kids.
For hubby and I, I fry some thai basil in a teaspoon of oil at high heat for 10 seconds and add it onto the chicken for extra flavor.
One life saving kitchen gadget I love is an air-fryer. It heats up very quickly, makes food very crispy – as if deep fried, but without the oil! I use it to make small batches of fries, veg, meat and it is very quick. And here I use it to re-crisp the chicken and it’s ready to eat after 10 minutes. I have used the Tefal one but I find the Philips one a lot better: Check it out here (for my US mommies) and here (for my UK mummies). I’ve had mine for 4 years and use it 3-4 times a week. It is well worth the investment as it has made my life so much easier with quicker cooking times, reduced oil use, and the food much tastier as kids love anything crispy don’t they!