When raising three rowdy boys, Daisy Kushino often made this classic Japanese American dish: it was a cinch to make and an easy dish to feed them while they were sitting in a highchair or at a picnic. Mochiko chicken is probably adapted from tatsuta age, Japanese marinated fried chicken, and is very versatile: serve small pieces as finger food or cut the chicken into bigger pieces for a main course. Flour made from Japanese sweet rice (which is similar to glutinous rice) is called mochiko flour or sweet rice flour and can be found in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets. Look for Koda Farms Blue Star Brand which comes in a white box.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mochiko flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
4 green onions, white and green parts, chopped (1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
Using a meat pounder, pound the chicken gently to flatten it without tearing it. This tenderizes the meat and allows it to cook evenly. Cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, soy sauce, mochiko flour, cornstarch, sugar, green onions, and garlic. Tumble in the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or preferably 12 hours.
Bring the chicken to room temperature before frying.
Line a plate with paper towels. In a large heavy skillet, heat about 1 inch of oil over high heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer. Reduce the heat to medium. Using tongs or cooking chopsticks, carefully lower thickly coated chicken pieces one at a time into the oil. You are shallow-frying, so the pieces will only be half submerged. Fry in a batch of 7 to 8 pieces (don't overcrowd the pan) until both sides are crispy and evenly golden brown, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, shaking off excess oil, and drain on paper towels.
Use a slotted spoon or a wire mesh strainer to remove any debris from the oil and repeat until all the chicken is cooked. Serve hot with freshly steamed short-grain rice, or cold as an appetizer or picnic food.
Pat's Notes: Add 1 teaspoon grated ginger to the marinade for a little kick.
Grandma Says: When expecting company, you can undercook the chicken and when ready to serve, finish it off in a 375 degree F oven for 5 to 6 minutes so it will crisp up and be nice and warm.
Reprinted from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens by Pat Tanumihardja (© Sasquatch Books, 2009).
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