Cooking on deadline: Ground shrimp chips the secret to great fried chicken
By: By J.M. HIRSCH AP Food Editor
Just trust me and try this one.
If you like fried chicken with a perfectly extra-crunchy, savory breading that’s not too thick, too thin or too greasy and cooks in a flash, go to an Asian market and buy “prawn flavored chips.”
Sometimes called “shrimp chips,” these snacks usually are sold in boxes (under a variety of brands) and prior to cooking resemble brightly colored hunks of plastic.
The traditional way of preparing shrimp chips is to submerge them in very hot oil until they puff up and expand, turning into an oddly colored but delicious cross between a potato chip and a cheese puff.
On a whim, I tossed a bunch of the uncooked chips in a blender and pulverized them. I then dredged thin chicken breast halves through the ground chips and pan-fried them in a bit of canola oil.
The theory was that the chips fry so well on their own, they might create an amazing coating for chicken (or anything else you care to coat). The theory was right.
The only downside — the chips come in funky colors, so they lend a rainbow confetti appearance to the chicken. It’s a fair price for such a fantastic coating (and your kids will love it).
Some advice on working with shrimp chips:
• Be sure you buy uncooked shrimp chips. Most shops also sell cooked ones in bags similar to potato chips.
• Because the uncooked chips are very tough, unless your blender or food processor is powerful, you may need to grind them in batches. And don’t expect to turn the chips into powder. Aim for coarse sand.
• When frying shrimp chips the traditional way, it’s best to heat enough oil to completely immerse the chips, about 1 inch. For this recipe, a 1/8 to 1/4 inch depth is fine.
• As with all frying, there is serious splatter potential. Use tongs to carefully move food in and out of the pan.
• This recipe calls for seasoning the ground shrimp chips with garlic powder and black pepper. Shrimp chips have a savory, but neutral, flavor. Any dried herbs or seasonings could be added.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
4-ounces (about half a box) shrimp chips (also called prawn flavored chips), uncooked
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 pound thin-sliced chicken breasts
Canola or vegetable oil
Place the shrimp chips, in batches if necessary, in a food processor or blender. Grind the chips until they resemble coarse sand. Transfer the ground chips to a wide, shallow bowl. Mix in the garlic powder and pepper.
In a second wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and mustard. Set aside.
One at a time, place the chicken breasts between sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to gently but firmly pound the breasts until evenly flat.
In a large, deep skillet, add about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of oil. Heat over medium until the oil bubbles when touched with the tip of a wooden spoon or chopstick.
Dredge each piece of chicken first through the egg and mustard mixture, coating both sides, then through the ground shrimp chips, turning to coat both sides.
Place the chicken in the pan and fry until the bottom is crisp and just beginning to brown at the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side another 3 to 4 minutes, or until cooked through.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly before serving.
Editor’s note: J.M. Hirsch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 2.6.08