Friday, March 20, 2009

Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken - 虾酱鸡 (Recipe with Photos)

Shrimp Paste Chicken, Har Jiong Kai (Cantonese Pronunciation) or 虾酱鸡 is one of Singaporean’s favourite fried chicken dish. It is a must-order when eating out at Zi Char Stall. Actually, it is quite easy to make the dish at home if you know how. So, here is recipe with the step-by-step method for making Shrimp Paste Chicken from scratch! I guaranteed that you will not just settle for normal fried chicken wings at home after learning this recipe.

Despite the popularity with Singaporean Chinese, Shrimp Paste Chicken is not a Chinese dish. It was in fact originated from our neighbouring country –Vietnam! To those who have not eaten it before, Shrimp Paste Chicken had a very distinctive salty seafood flavour that comes from shrimp paste. If properly executed, the chicken should be crispy on the outside but remained moist on the inside. Shrimp paste is a pinkish-grey coloured condiment made from fermented sea shrimps which had a distinct pungent smell and tasted very salty. It is widely used in cooking by some Chinese i.e. the Cantonese and South-East Asians.

To make Shrimp Paste Chicken, you will need:


Chicken Parts – You can use chicken wings, or whole chicken cut up in big chunks

Marinate for about 15 chicken wings:

Shrimp Paste – 1 tablespoon
Sugar – 2 tablespoon (depending on your
Sesame Oil – 1 tablespoon
Ginger – Grated, 1 heaped tablespoon
Water – 2 tablespoon to dilute the mixture
To Serve:

Lime wedges


Defrost the chicken wings. Trim off the excess fats and skin. Our mum always did that when preparing chicken wings so that we can have healthier Chicken wings.
There are many brands of shrimp paste in the market. One of the more readily available one which you can get from supermarket is Lee Kum Kee's. It cost about $3.40 from NTUC.

I managed to get other brands from wet market and it cost about $2 something which is much cheaper. Just a word of caution. Do not be surprise to see flies buzzing around when using the shrimp paste. It is 'normal' for the shrimp paste to attract flies because it is fermented stuff.


Mix the marinate in a bowl without the chicken. Because personal taste differs, I strongly suggest you taste the marinate to see it suit your palette. The marinate should be a tad stronger than you would normally take because the chicken has not been added in.

The other reason for tasting the marinate first is that some shrimp paste might be saltier than the other brands, so the portion of sugar has to be adjusted accordingly. To taste, I don't mean you take a sip (it is yucky...), I mean you put a drop of the marinate on hand and 'taste' it with your tongue.

After adjusting the taste, mix in the chicken parts thoroughly. Ensure every pieces is coated evenly with marinate.

I usually marinate a lot of wings in one go. Divide them into one serving portion and store them in a plastic bag for freezing. Important thing to note: Do not leave the chicken in marination for days in fridge, otherwise the chicken will be too salty. One day is the maximum time that you can leave the chicken in the sauce.

I supposed the marination stopped when freezed, thus Shrimp paste chicken can be stored for weeks in freezer.

The Frying Process:

I know some people like to coat their chicken wings in batter for frying. I preferred to keep it simple by coating it with flour. I tried various combination - wheat flour, rice flour, corn flour etc but still prefer the rice and corn flour combination because it will give the chicken a light crust which is crunchier. The ratio of rice flour and corn flour should be 2:1. I have also added some pepper to lightly flavoured the flour.

Perfectly marinated chicken will looked slightly grayish. I left mine in freezer for about a week. To defrost them, I would leave it into the fridge compartment overnight. Then, one hour before frying, I would take them out of the fridge to thaw till room temperature.

Coat them lightly with the flavoured flour and try to shake off the excess flour.

In wok or deep fryer, heat oil to about 170 degree celcius. Then slide in the chicken lightly. Fry them till golden brown. Drained off the excess oil and served.

There you have it, finger-licking good Shrimp Paste Chicken! Squeeze lime juice over the fried chicken pieces just before eating. It helps to cuts the greasiness of fried chicken.

This is one of my best dishes that my family likes. I hope you all will like it as well!


danu said...

Good explanation.
I like it.
Great job.

sunkiiss said...

This looks really very delicious! Will try it out in the hopefully near future =)

Photosophize [ 影.像.物语 ] said...

Hi SunKiiss, do try it out and let me know if you like it! :)

Gladys Kock said...

I made this Vietnam-style Fried Shrimp Paste Chicken yesterday and it's such a blissful dish to the taste sensation! For the flour mixture, I used tapioca flour and plain flour mixture in the ratio of 1:1 and it provides a delightful crunch while chomping on its skin. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

Ellis said...

Thank u so much for this recipe! We've been away from home n is dying for a decent fried chicken n yours is great! your recipe will definitely go up the permanent family menu.

Lim Poh Whee said...

Excellent step by step explanation with photos. I followed the recipe to the "T" and the dish turned out to be damned delicious as good as the Zi Cha stall. Great work. Thank you.