Recipe: Fragrant Crispy Chicken
1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
21 / 3 cups peanut or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
2 slices fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns (available at Asian markets)
Salt and black pepper
1. Place chicken thighs between two pieces plastic wrap and lightly pound them until they are evenly flat. Put them into a bowl and set aside.
2. Make marinade. Combine rice wine, soy sauces, scallions and ginger in a blender and purée. Strain the purée over the chicken. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients, season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and mix well. Let chicken marinate for 45 minutes.
3. Remove chicken from bowl and reserve marinade. Heat wok or large skillet over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add chicken and fry for five minutes. Remove chicken and drain, then reheat the oil in the wok until it is very hot. Fry chicken again until it is crispy and golden brown. Remove chicken from wok and drain well on paper towels. Drain off all the oil and discard. Cut chicken into slices and arrange on a platter.
4. Reheat wok over medium heat and add reserved marinade, sesame oil, scallions and sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil and pour over chicken. Serve at once.
— Adapted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from “Complete Chinese Cookbook” by Ken Hom (Firefly, 2011, $35)