Help me deep fry

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Assistant Cook
Feb 19, 2020
Hello friends—

I am a little more than a year into a lifelong quest to make the world's best sesame chicken and I am here to ask for your help. While I've gotten very good at the sesame chicken sauce, I always have trouble with deep frying the chicken such that it is crispy all over and remains crispy after being covered in the sauce, without going overboard. This may be a matter of my needing more practice (because once or twice I have pulled it off), but since the same symptoms seem to recur despite my variations I am wondering if there is something very obvious I am doing wrong.

My typical technique is to batter 1in chicken pieces in a cup of cold water, a cup of flour, baking powder, salt, and a dash of booze (which I read online somewhere helps prevent gluten formation, and that this is good), and immediately throw them in the deep fryer (with tongs) at 375F, for anywhere from 2 to 10 mins depending on how desperate I am to get them crispy. The recurring problem is that whether they are in for a long or short time, the batter around the chicken doesn't end up crispy, while the bits not directly attached to chicken do get crispy.

In an effort to resolve this problem, I have experimented extensively. I've used beer instead of water, which certainly gets them crispy, but not in the way I'm looking for (this is a sesame chicken, not fish and chips, and the beer batter ends up getting too big and interfering with the taste of the chicken and the sauce). Half beer, half water is better, but still has the problem of being a different kind of crispiness. I've also used seltzer water, which I will admit doesn't seem to have too much effect, and my understanding is that there is no reason it should have any effect different than beer does (because the relevant variable in either case is the carbonation). I've tried corn starch instead of flour, eggs instead of water (or both), and I've tried double frying them (though perhaps not with the precision required—it's either seemed to have no effect or made them unpleasantly crunchy).

As I said, it's possible that I'm just not executing well enough or consistently. But this has happened often enough that it is becoming frustrating, and I haven't been able to find any simple fixes online. So if anyone has any thoughts or tips about what I am doing wrong, they would be much appreciated. Alternatively, if anyone has a deep fry batter recipe that they've found works very well in this context (most of the batters I find online are for larger pieces of chicken not intended to be used with sauce or are beer batters).

Thank you, and your contribution to the quest is greatly appreciated.
Hi SesameChickenMan, welcome to DC. You have certainly done a lot of experimentation.

Can you post your recipe for the chicken marinade and the mixture for the batter (your best version) so we can have a starting point.
Hey Andy—thanks for your reply. The batter recipe with which I've had the most consistent success has been: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup cold water, 1/2 cup beer, tablespoon baking powder, tablespoon salt, splash of vodka. This recipe definitely isn't perfect, though, and I've had success without beer and with egg as well.

I don't marinate the chicken. I just cut it up, stir it in the flour and dry ingredients until I'm ready to deep fry, when I pour in the liquids, stir briefly and put in the fryer. I toss the chicken pieces in the sesame chicken sauce I make separately when they're done.
SCM; most fried chicken is done with a coating of flour rather tha a batter,
unless making a tempura style coating. The basic method is to dry the chicken peices and dredge them un plain, or seasoned flour. Ket then sit in the flour for a rew minues, and them dip them in egg wash made of beaten egg and milk. Let sit in the egg wash briefly to allow the flour to hydrate. Then, it's back into the flour, again letting it sit so that the paste made by ther first coating glues the second coat of flour to the chicken pieces. For extra crisp chicken, put the chicken again into the egg wash, then flour. Put pieces into the hot oil (360'F.) and fry until medium brown. Flip and repeat. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through.

For a tempura style coating, the chicken needs to be cubed. The traditional batter uses a carbonated liuid, but this version makes a light and crispy coating that has always worked for me.

1/2 cup AP flouor
1/2 cup corn starch
2 1/2 tsp. double-acting baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
w tbs. cooking oil
1 Extra large egg
1 cup milk
Whisk together until smooth. Immerse chicken in batter, and fry until golden brown.

The tempura should remain crisp after coating with your sesame sauce, as will the flour dreged chicken. You could add Chinese 5-spice powder and a bit of garlic powder to both for added flavor.

Seeeeey; Chief Longwind of the North
In an effort to help, this is what I call the perfect batter for fish or chicken. Your chicken (or fish) needs to be very dry, and ICE cold. Leave it in the fridge till the last minute.

3/4 cup AP flour
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup ICE cold water
juice of half of a fresh juicy lemon (about 3 Tbs)

Use a med. bowl, and with a wire whisk, whisk dry ingredients to be sure they are well blended.
Squeeze half a juicy lemon into a measuring cup, and fill to the 3/4 line with ICE cold water. Mix quickly into the dry ingredients, till only small lumps remain. It does not need to be smooth. Combine the ice cold chicken pieces in the batter, and fry. I pan fry, but deep frying is optional.
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This is what I do for my sweet and pungent shrimp, and my general's chicken is remarkably similar. Your sauce needs to be sticky and hot. If it is cold and watery this won't work.

1 lb raw shrimp
1 egg white, beaten
1 cup cornstarch

Peel and devein shrimp.
Slice in halve lengthwise.
Rinse well pat dry.
Add the egg white to shrimp mix well.
Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Add to the shrimp.
Stir to coat well.
Add 1 1/2 tablespoon oil and mix well again.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

At this point, all of the ingredients for the sauce are prepped and ready to quickly combine in hot cast iron.

Remove the shrimp and dust with remaining cornstarch.
Shrimp should be dry to the touch.
Heat fryer to 350°F; shake off excess cornstarch and separate shrimp.
Fry till golden brown.

While the shrimp is frying I throw together my sauce, and thicken with a cornstarch slurry (for Chinese it is usually with sherry).

Combine the shrimp with the sauce and toss quickly to coat and serve.
using rice flour has done wonders for my deep fry crusting/crunch.
a typical tempura is rice flour + corn starch.
I suggest using 1/2 flour + 1/2 rice flour for starters, adjust as needed.
Thank you all. I will be trying out these recipes over the next couple of weeks and will keep you updated on how it goes.

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