Why It Is effective
- Furu (fermented bean curd) is really strong on its own, but mixing it with rice wine, sugar, and spices gives the fried chicken a sweet, elaborate finish.
- Coating the hen with a layer of thick sweet potato starch gives each bite a textured crunch.
Taiwanese-design popcorn hen is a delightful evening snack, usually marketed in a paper bag and intended to be nibbled on as you saunter by the night time markets of Taiwan. The bite-size chunks of thigh meat are juicy and tender, seasoned with a hit of soy sauce, white pepper, five-spice powder, and then deep-fried to order.
The Taiwanese inclination toward deep-fried chicken came in the late 70s and 80s and coincided with the island’s adoration for American cuisine. In the past a long time, America had supplied Taiwan with roughly a billion of bucks of financial help and so there was a specific romanticism bordering the benefactor’s foods and lifestyle.
Out of this fondness arose a tidal wave of American-design principles: Concession stands popped up close to the island serving hamburgers for breakfast, and affordable aspirational steakhouses established up shop at night time markets, slinging out stringy cuts of beef drenched in black pepper sauce with spaghetti on the aspect. Popcorn hen was introduced to the masses as an approximation of American fried rooster, but flavored with familiar Taiwanese spices alternatively and often tossed with glassy sheets of deep-fried emerald eco-friendly Thai basil for further flavor.
This particular twist on popcorn hen is flavored with furu (fermented bean curd) and can be discovered at a whole lot of “rechao” dining establishments in Taiwan—late night time beer eateries with brief stools and tables, exactly where men and women acquire soon after a very long working day of operate with a chilly, icy lager and hearty plates of food that occur in swift succession. While this variation is not as effectively-regarded as its night market counterpart, which is manufactured without furu, it is however a incredibly common solution.
I initially stumbled throughout furu-marinated fried hen at a rechao throughout from my condominium in Taipei, in which the server proposed it as a residence specialty. Whilst I’ve experienced countless renditions of popcorn chicken in my lifetime, this a person was a revelation, the taste of the furu creeping in as an aftertaste and providing just about every chunk a sweet, complex finish. On its individual, furu is fairly funky, like anchovies or fish sauce, which is why it is just about generally utilised in compact portions and mixed with other components as portion of a marinade—its flavor is scrumptious but potent, and so needs a well balanced tactic. In this recipe, I insert a conservative dollop of furu to the chicken marinade, offering the fried morsels a creamy, underlying strike of umami.
In the United States, furu rooster has mostly been unfamiliar, though that is starting off to improve. At the Brooklyn Taiwanese cafe termed Wen Wen, for illustration, it is the marquee dish. “I use furu as a salt source,” suggests Eric Sze, chef and operator of the two Wen Wen and the Manhattan restaurant 886. On his menu at Wen Wen is a dish he cheekily calls “Whole BDSM Fried Chicken,” which is his consider on the rechao-design furu chicken. Sze serves a full, deboned hen slathered in a pretty concoction of furu and soy milk and then deep-fries it for great measure. “Furu is kind of like a substitute for soy sauce but it adds a absolutely different flavor,” he claims. “It provides a little bit of texture as very well since it is really thick. There is just so a great deal complexity to it.”
A pantry product observed in Taiwan, Japan, and all all through China, furu is made out of fermented cubes of tofu immersed in salty brine. It has a identical texture to that of a ripe creamy brie. It is sweet and salty feel of it like a pretty concentrated cube of miso or a spoonful of marmite the place a minimal bit of it goes a quite extensive way. Cottage-field furu in Taiwan is typically marketed with chunks of pineapple in the brine, which adds a comfortable contact of acidity. In southwest China, it is usually seasoned with a balanced sprinkle of hot chile powder. The most typical rendition discovered in Asian grocery outlets in the States is furu with red yeast, which provides a lovely stroke of colour and sweetness to the bean curd and is effective beautifully in this recipe.
Whilst furu is nonetheless a reasonably obscure component in the wide canon of Asian pantry goods, it’s a shelf-secure merchandise that can conveniently be uncovered in the pickle area at most Chinese or Taiwanese grocery shops all around the planet and of system online.