A very Asian take on bite-sized fried chicken fillet made popular by KFC. This sweet chili popcorn chicken is marinated Vietnamese style and glazed with homemade sauce.
Chicken breast or thighs?
Here at home — thighs, always, and with skin on. The higher fat content of the dark meat of chicken thighs ensures that despite the intensely high heat in which the chicken nuggets are cooked, the inside stays moist.
Why skin on?
Two reasons. First, the fat in the skin adds more moistness to the meat. Second, the chicken skin adds a layer of crispiness because it turns into crackling during frying.
And the sweet chili sauce is homemade?
Oh, yes. We make sweet chili sauce without starch. As it cools, the sugar caramelizes and forms and extra layer of crispiness around the fried chicken fillet. And that’s why this sweet chili popcorn chicken does not turn soggy as fast as others.
Sweet Chili Popcorn Chicken
- 6 medium chicken thigh fillets preferably skin on
For the marinade
To fry the chicken
- cooking oil for deep frying
- ½ cup all-purpose flour divided
- ¼ cup corn starch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
For the glaze
- ½ cup homemade sweet chili sauce (click the link to get the recipe)
- cooked rice Japanese rice is recommended
- your choice of greens
- Pat the chicken thigh fillets dry with paper towels. Cut into 1½-inch cubes.
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the marinade until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add the chicken to the marinade and mix well.
- Cover the bowl and marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least an hour.
- In a wok or frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches. The ideal frying temperature is 350F.
- While the oil heats up, make the batter by whisking together he corn starch, salt, pepper, chili powder and half of the flour. Stir in iced water to make a fairly thin batter (see notes after the recipe).
- Toss the chicken in the remaning flour.
- When the temperature of the oil reaches 350F (or, if you don't use a thermometer, you see fine wisps of smoke floating on the surface of the oil), it is time to start frying.
- Dip each piece of floured chicken in the batter and drop in the hot oil. Cook the chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding which will result in temperature drop. The coating of the chicken should be lightly browned after four to five minutes of frying which is just enough time to ensure that the chicken is cooked all the way through.
- Drain the cooked chicken and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Drizzle in the sweet chili sauce and toss to coat each piece of chicken with sauce.
- Serve the sweet chili popcorn chicken over rice with your preferred greens on the side.