Taiwanese popcorn chicken called Yan Su Ji goes by other names like salt and pepper chicken, and crispy chicken. It is a very popular snack in Taiwan. It is found in most of the night food markets as well as boba shops. Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a flavorful crispy bite, and it is pretty easy to make at home.
The secret to making these delicious little chicken bites is double frying. This is what keeps the chicken super succulent and tender on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside. They are first put in a marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes (longer is better) and then simply dipped in a batter. They are always served with pieces of fried basil and a wonderful salt and pepper powder. We loved them!
Did you know that in Taiwan the trash truck alerts you by playing music Beethoven’s Fur Elise to bring your trash out to the truck. they don’t have trash cans, you just bring your trash out and put it in the truck. If you would like to learn more about this small island nation be sure to check out “Our Journey to Taiwan”. There you will get more authentic recipes like Beef Noodle Soup and Boba.
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Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
For The Marinade
- 1 lb chicken thighs boneless skinless
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp five spice powder
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger grated
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1 egg white
For The Batter
- 1 cup sweet potato starch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- cooking oil for frying
For The Seasoning
- 1 tsp white peppercorn
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp five spice powder
- 1 tsp hot paprika or to taste
- 2 cups Thai basil
- Cut the thighs into bite-sized pieces, roughly 3cm x 3cm (1" x 1").
- Marinate them in the five spice powder, chicken bouillon powder, salt, sugar, grated ginger, finely chopped garlic, onion powder, corn starch, egg white, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, pepper and mashed fermented tofu for at least 20 minutes.
- Toast the white and Sichuan peppercorns on low-medium heat until slightly brown.
- Use a spice grinder to grind the peppercorns into a powder. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.
- Combine the ground peppercorns with the five spice powder, paprika and salt.
- Mix the potato starch and baking powder together, then coat the cut pieces in the batter. Use a colander to shake away any excess starch.
- Heat up a wok of oil on medium heat and fry the coated pieces for 5 minutes or until golden.
- Remove the pieces and let it drip dry in a sieve. Turn the heat up to high and double fry them for another 2 minutes.
- Just before the chicken is ready, toss in the Thai basil leaves and let them fry for 2 minutes or until crispy. Scoop the chicken and leaves out into a large sieve or colander.
- Put a serving of Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken into a platter along with some Thai basil. Add some of the spice mix in and toss all together until the pieces are evenly coated.