Prawn Paste Chicken (also known as fermented shrimp paste chicken or “har cheong gai“/虾酱鸡) is one of my favourite local zi char dish. The main ingredient for the chicken marinade is prawn paste (shrimp paste) which is truly “smelly”, pungent and will stink up your kitchen (you have been warned!) – yet it lends such a genius touch of savoury deliciousness to many South East Asian dishes that my pantry is never without it!
I usually add a teeny bit to certain stir-fries such as pineapple fried rice and it became a hidden secret ingredient which brings together all the flavours of the dish. A plus point of home-cooked version of har cheong gai is that you know the vegetable oil used is clean and always changed after each round of deep frying.
In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients (A) until a paste is formed. Marinade the chicken with the sauce for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge.
Just before deep-frying, add corn flour to the marinade chicken. Stir to coat evenly, until the flour is dissolved completely into the marinade and forms a sticky coat on the chicken.
Heat oil in a wok or pot to about 180°C (356°F). Deep fry in batches for about 5 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown, turning once half way. During the last minute of deep-frying, turn the heat up slightly to allow the chicken to crisp well. Drain excess oil on paper towels before serving.