As the Chinese New Year approaches, we find more and more Chinese recipes on the web. Marketing goes on high gear, Chinese restaurants are offering all kinds of promos and special meals while sellers of Chinese food and ingredients buy more advertising space than usual. Here at home, we don’t need a reason to cook Chinese—we cook Chinese dishes (or Chinese-inspired dishes) at least once a week on the average. This dragon chicken dish, cooked by Alex, was yesterday’s lunch.
Why is it called dragon chicken? Savvy marketing, most probably. Dragon chicken is Chinese-inspired but it was born in India. The Chinese people have been traveling and trading in Asia for centuries, and many of them settled in various countries including India. These migrants were responsible for the birth of Chinese-Indian fusion cuisine. In the restaurant scene, South Asian spices were added to traditional Chinese dishes to make them more appetizing to the locals. One of those dishes is dragon chicken.
So, yes, dragon chicken is a spicy dish. You can adjust the level of heat to your tolerance level, of course. What’s the point in cooking dragon chicken if it’s so hot that you can’t eat it anymore, right?
- 6 to 7 chicken thigh fillets skin on, about 400 to 500 grams
- 2 to 3 bird's eye chilies (or use whatever chili grows locally in your region)
- 1 onion
- 2 to 3 bell peppers
- For the marinade:
- 4 cloves garlic
- thumb-sized piece of ginger
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/3 cup tapioca (or corn or potato) starch
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- 3 to 4 cooking oil
- Pat the chicken thigh fillets dry. Cut into strips about half an inch wide.
- Slice the chilies and onion.
- Cut the bell peppers into matchsticks, discarding the seeds and white pith (see how).
- Grind the garlic and ginger (Alex used a mortar and pestle) into a paste. Divide into two portions and set one portion aside.
- In a large bowl, make the marinade by mixing together one portion of the garlic-ginger paste, egg, flour, starch, soy sauce, salt and black pepper. Add the chicken, mix well and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
- Make the sauce by mixing together the remaining portion of garlic-ginger paste, soy sauce, ketchup, salt, pepper and sugar.
- In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches. Fry the chicken, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Cook the chicken pieces until browned and crisp. Scoop out and move to a strainer.
- Pour off the oil from the pan leaving only about a tablespoonful.
- Stir fry the chilies, onion and bell peppers in the hot oil. Pour in the prepared sauce and cook until thickened.
- Toss the fried chicken strips in the sauce.
- Serve your dragon chicken as an appetizer or with rice as a main dish.