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Sweet Chilli Fried Chicken with French Beans


It wasn't until I came to Sydney that I was introduced to Thai sweet chilli sauce, which is widely used not only as a dipping sauce but for seasoning and various stir-fries. I hardly recall using or coming across sweet chilli sauce in Singapore or Malaysia, probably because we prefer our chillies to be hot rather than sweet. However, it does make a very delicious coating for deep-fried chicken. Of course, you could just dip the fried chicken in the sauce separately, but tossing everything together allows time for the sauce to absorb into the crunchy batter on the chicken. The french beans in the dish are also lovely with that sweet chilli sauce and adds a bit of texture to the dish.

I wanted to add some acidity to the sweet chilli sauce to cut through some of that sugary sweetness, and so I added some Sambal Oelek (I used Thai sambal oelek which is sharp-tasting and vinegary) to it. If you don't like the heat from the sambal, you could substitute with tamarind paste/puree/juice, or perhaps some vinegar might work too. If you have a penchant for sweet dishes, then try making this at home and serve it with some steamed white rice. It's so yummy (and just a little spicy), even the kids love it!



Sweet Chilli Fried Chicken with French Beans

Ingredients

600g chicken thigh fillets (about 4 pieces), cut into 1 inch cubes or strips
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp glutinous rice flour
1/2 egg, beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
15-20 french beans
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Sauce (combine in a bowl):
1/2 cup Thai sweet chilli sauce
1 1/2 tbsp Sambal Oelek (or to taste)
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup (optional, for sticky-factor)

Method

Combine chicken with salt, pepper, sesame oil, plain flour, cornflour, glutinous rice flour and egg. Use your hands to mix everything together until the chicken is well coated. Set aside for 1/2 hour.

Wash the french beans and pat dry. Top and tail them, and then cut them in half so that they are about 2 inches long.

Heat up 3 cups vegetable oil in a wok until it reaches 180C. Drop a piece of chicken into the oil and it should sizzle immediately. Fry the rest of the chicken in batches for 6-8 minutes until golden brown and cooked. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.

Once all the chicken has been cooked, use the same oil to deep-fry the french beans for about 20 seconds until it starts to wrinkle and change colour slightly. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.

In a clean wok, heat up 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil and fry the chopped garlic. Add sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and beans and toss to coat evenly. Dish out onto a serving plate and serve as an appetizer or with steamed white rice. Garnish with some deep-fried thai basil leaves if desired.

Note: Do use a good quality Thai sweet chilli sauce if possible, as I have tried some "unauthentic" sweet chilli sauces and they tasted.....kinda strange!

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