"This dish has followed me halfway around the world," says Tikaram. "Even before the doors swung open at EP we were receiving emails asking if my crisp-skinned chicken would make it onto the summer opening menu. It's actually my guilty pleasure after a pumping Saturday night service to plate up a couple of these and have a beer with the chefs in the kitchen once we finish, so how could I say no? To make the dipping sauce, you'll need a mortar and pestle, and a lot of elbow grease to pound it out, but it's worth it. This recipe will make more than enough so store it in an airtight container and enjoy it on everything."
- 2.5 litres (10 cups) chicken stock
- 125 ml (½ cup) light soy sauce
- 40 gm ginger, coarsely chopped
- 6 spring onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp coarsely crushed white peppercorns
- 1 chicken (about 1.6kg)
- 2 litres canola oil, for deep-frying
Chilli-vinegar dipping sauce
- 160 ml (2/3 cup) canola oil
- 30 gm (2/3 cup) long dried red chillies, seeds discarded
- 10 gm ginger, cut into julienne, plus extra to serve
- 25 gm (1/3 cup) fried shallots
- 25 gm (¼ cup) fried garlic
- 1½ tsp white sugar
- 65 ml Chinese black vinegar
- 70 ml light soy sauce
- 1Bring stock, soy sauce, ginger, spring onion and peppercorns to the boil in a deep saucepan slightly larger than the chicken in diameter over medium-high heat. Submerge chicken completely, breast-side up, bring back to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove chicken with long tongs, drain well over saucepan, place on a plate breast-side up and stand for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until required. Cover with plastic wrap once cooled.
- 2For chilli-vinegar dipping sauce, heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan to 160C. Flash-fry chillies, stirring continuously with a slotted spoon, until crisp and bright red (20 seconds). Remove with
a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Stir-fry ginger until crisp and beginning to turn golden brown (40 seconds; stir frequently so ginger doesn’t stick together). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Strain oil into a saucepan or metal container and set aside to cool. Pound fried chillies and ginger, shallots, garlic and sugar with a large mortar and pestle until smooth (3-4 minutes). Add vinegar, soy sauce and 60ml reserved oil, and pound until combined and a thick paste forms (1-2 minutes). Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until required. Makes about 250ml. Will keep refrigerated for up to a week.
- 3Bring chicken to room temperature and heat oil to 220C in a wok or large saucepan (if you have an electric deep-fryer, even better). Cut the chicken in half down the backbone with a large knife or cleaver, then carefully lower one half into the oil with tongs (be careful, hot oil will spit). Deep-fry, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden brown (8-10 minutes), then drain on paper towels. Bring oil back to 220C and repeat with remaining chicken, then season to taste. Cut wings and legs off with a cleaver, cut each leg in two through the joint and each breast into three pieces through the bone. Arrange on a serving platter and serve hot with lemon wedges and chilli-vinegar dipping sauce scattered with julienne ginger and spring onion.
Drink Suggestion: A pinot gris such as Holly’s Garden or a full-body beer like Murray’s Whale Ale. Drink suggestion by Louis Tikaram