Chicken tender, or chicken finger, is the strip of white meat attached to the bone and tucked under the breast meat. It cooks fast and is not as dry as the breast meat. In this recipe, I added texture to the chicken tenders by coating them in batter made with desiccated coconut. After cooking, I tossed the coconut-crusted fried chicken tenders in a glaze made with mustard, Sriracha and honey.
Note that desiccated coconut and coconut flakes (the latter, more popular in the United States) are not the same. Desiccated coconut is finer in texture and, once mixed into the batter, becomes almost invisible yet giving the chicken that delightful sweet aroma and flavor that only coconut can give.
Can coconut flakes be substituted? Yes, but get the unsweetened variety. Batter made with coconut flakes will be lumpy with distinct strips of coconut plainly visible. Getting them to stick to the chicken may be more tricky and you may need to adjust the temperature of the cooking oil to prevent the coconut flakes from getting too dark before the chicken tenders are cooked through.
The ideal frying temperature is 350F. If you have a thermometer, use it. Otherwise, test the oil by dropping in a small blob of batter. If the batter does not float within five seconds or so, the oil is not hot enough. If the batter turns brown inside of five seconds, the oil is too hot. Adjust the heat and let the temperature of the oil drop or rise, as the case may be, before dropping in the chicken tenders.
- Wipe the chicken tenders dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and ginger powder. Toss to mix well.
- Make the batter by mixing together the flour and desiccated coconut with enough water to make a thick but still pourable paste.
- Heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Coat each chicken tender in batter and drop into the hot oil. Fry until crisp and golden, in batches if necessary.
- While the chicken tenders fry, make the glaze. Mix together the mustard, honey and Sriracha.
- Scoop out the chicken tenders and dump into a mixing bowl. Pour in the glaze and toss to coat each piece.
- Serve the coconut-crusted fried chicken tenders at once.
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