This Is How You Make The Juiciest Chinese Fried Chicken

Because juicy + crispy fried chicken is the best fried chicken meal.

IMAGE Miguel Nacianceno

There's a difference between your typical fried chicken and a Chinese-style fried chicken. A typical fried chicken is coated in a breading, usually a combo of egg and flour and commonly marinated in milk or acidic buttermilk to tenderize the chicken.

Chinese fried chicken needs none of those additional ingredients. In fact, a side-by-side comparison reveals that the Chinese version is quite bare on the outside but this seemingly naked fried chicken ensures that, no matter what, you will have crispy chicken skin that you don't have to eat on its own.

If you're curious how to make Chinese fried chicken as crispy and juicy as those you can order from a restaurant, here are three different ways you can achieve that:

1 Steam before frying.

It may sound rather odd that you will steam a chicken that you will fry anyway but hear us out: steaming the chicken isn't about cooking the chicken. It's about rendering out as much of the fat that's located under the skin as well as helping the skin dry out as much as possible. Any water left on the skin of the chicken after steaming will evaporate, giving you a dry surface that, when fried, becomes extra crisp. The inside meanwhile will stay moist and juicy. What you get when you finally fry this steamed chicken is a juicy yet crispy fried chicken. 

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If you don't have a steamer, there's another way to get that skin as dry as possible that will take more time:

2 Leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

When cooking fried chicken, you're often told to start with a chicken that's as dry as you can make it. If you use paper towels or a kitchen towel to thoroughly remove moisture from the skin of the chicken. However, this is not the most foolproof way. If you're averse to steaming your chicken, refrigerate it, uncovered, overnight instead.

The dryness of cold air will help wick any moisture from the chicken as it sits in the refrigerator. This will not only ensure that you have crispy skin, when it's time to cook, you'll also avoid the dreaded talsik when you add the chicken to the hot oil.

If you want to immediately start cooking but haven't had time to dry out the skin, here's what you can do:

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3 Double fry.

Take a cue from the Koreans and double fry your chicken. Pour in enough oil in a deep pot or sauté pan to deep fry your chicken but keep the heat low to medium. Add the chicken and let it cook. It won't brown - yet. Let it cook until cooked through. (You can check the doneness by lifting each piece of chicken and checking if its weight is light, by checking its internal temperature, or by piercing the flesh and checking if the juices run clear.) 

Once cooked through, remove the chicken onto paper towels or wire rack. Now, increase the heat to deep-fry temperatures (around 325 to 350 degrees F). Refry the chicken and this time, you won't have to wait too long for the chicken to turn a golden brown color before removing each piece from the oil. 

One of these three methods of cooking a juicy yet crispy fried chicken could be the perfect cooking method for you. Whichever you choose, the results will be you eating a juicy, fried chicken meal with crispy chicken skin on the outside and juicy tender chicken on the inside that you'll cook again and again. 

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