How to Cook Taiwanese-style Salt-and-Pepper Chicken

Taiwanese-style Salt-and-Pepper Chicken

Course Appetizer, Snack, Street Food
Cuisine Taiwanese
Keyword Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 3
Author Connie Veneracion


  • 400 grams skinless chicken thigh fillets substituting breast is not a good idea
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper divided pepper powder is not a good idea
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour mixed with 1/4 cup tapioca or corn or potato starch
  • oil for deep frying
  • handful basil leaves I used lemon basil


  • Pat the chicken thigh fillets dry. Cut into bite-size cubes. Place in a bowl, pour in the soy sauce, add the garlic and mix well. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add half of the five-spice powder, salt, pepper and half of the flour-starch mixture. Beat until smooth. Pour into the chicken. Mix lightly but thoroughly. Cover the bowl and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
  • Bring the chicken to room temperature.
  • In an oil-free pan, lightly toast the remaining salt, pepper and five-spice powder. Set aside and cool.
  • Heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of three inches in your frying pan. The temperature of the oil should be around 300F. MEDIUM heat, in other words.
  • Toss the chicken cubes in the remaining flour-starch mixture. Deep-fry the chicken (in batches, if necessary, if your frying pan is on the small side) for about three minutes. Scoop out and drain.
  • Turn up the heat of the stove so that the oil temperature rises to 350F. Without using a thermometer, that translates to HIGH heat.
  • Drop in the basil leaves and cook for a few seconds. Dump the partially cooked chicken back into the now very hot oil and cook with the basil leaves for another minute.
  • Scoop out the salt and pepper chicken (yes, with the basil leaves) and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle the toasted salt-pepper-five-spice powder mixture over the fried chicken and serve immediately.