Types of Chinese Style Fried Chicken (And No, Orange Chicken Isn’t Here)

Orange chicken and lemon chicken are easily the most iconic dishes you’ll find on the menu of any Chinese restaurant, but they are not the only options when it comes to Chinese-style fried chicken. In fact, the chicken dishes that we often see on our menus are either Chinese-American or Chinese-Filipino inventions, but there are more types of Chinese-style fried chicken than you think. Some of them have untapped potential, since they are not very common outside China, so here are some fried chicken dishes that you can add to your to-try list.

Chongqing Chicken 辣子鸡 (Làzijī)

Youtube chef Joshua Weissman recently made a video pitting every type of fried chicken from around the world against each other, and Chongqing Chicken was declared the winner in the end. It’s a Sichuan dish that originated from Geleshan, Chongqing, and it’s made by marinating chicken thighs in soy sauce and Shaoxing wine, coating them in cornstarch before deep frying. The chicken is then tossed in a sauce consisting of wok-fried Sichuan peppercorns, dried Sichuan peppers, spicy bean paste, along with garlic and ginger. It might not seem as saucy as some other fried chicken dishes out there, but it is definitely a flavor bomb. 

Photo from Vittle Monster

Kung Bao Chicken 宫爆鸡丁 (Gōngbǎo jīdīng)

Kung Bao Chicken might seem like a Chinese-American dish, but it actually originated in Sichuan province. It is believed to be named after Ding Baozhen, a palace official who had nearly drowned and was saved by a bystander. Ding later cooked Kung Bao Chicken for the bystander and his family to show his gratitude. There are two variations of Kung Bao Chicken. The original Sicuhan version has roughly similar ingredients and preparation as Chongqing Chicken, except it contains peanuts, leeks, and is less spicy. The Americanized version contains chicken stock and sometimes orange juice. 

Photo from Once Upon a Chef

Cantonese Crispy Fried Chicken 炸子鸡 (Zhà zǐjī)

This dish is very common around Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, and even though it has a generic name, the preparation method is unlike anything you’ve seen in fried chicken. First, the whole chicken is marinated with spices such as star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon,  nutmeg, and ginger. It’s then drizzled with a boiling mixture of vinegar and sugar to remove the impurities from the skin and make it more crispy. There’s no batter involved in the frying process, and instead, the chicken is repeatedly basted with hot oil until it is fully cooked. It’s a long and arduous process, but you get rewarded with chicken that has thin yet crispy skin on the outside and is incredibly juicy on the inside. 

Photo from Recipe Land

Oil-Soaked Chicken

Oil-Soaked Chicken originated in Fujian, but visiting Emperors loved it so much that they brought it back to the capital, hence making it more popular in Beijing. As unappetizing as the words “oil-soaked” makes it seem, it’s actually just another term for deep-frying, but there are much more steps than that. First, the chicken is marinated in a classic mixture of Shaoxing wine and salt, then it’s steamed until it’s partially cooked. Once it cools down, the chicken pieces are coated in cornstarch and deep-fried, and then they get tossed in a glaze made of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, pineapple juice, and vinegar.

Photo from TasteAtlas

Which fried chicken dish are you most excited to try? And which one is your favorite? Feel free to comment down below!

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