What are Night Markets?
One of the must-see destinations in Taiwan is “Night Markets”. As the name suggest, they are markets that open in the evenings. Night markets are mainly located in urban or suburban areas occur every evening until past midnight, street vendors will gather on streets selling goods, clothes, and most importantly food. Foods in night markets are called “xiaochi” meaning snacks, fast food, or street food.
I lived in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. There are more than 10 night markets in Taipei city. As to the locals, eating and shopping are everyday social activities; “Hanging” in night markets is one of the most common activities I used to do with my friends back in Taiwan. Vendors sells all kinds of things that you can possibly think of, trendy clothes, accessories, electronics, household goods, ready to go food… etc. with cheap prices. If you want to know which night market in Taipei to go, here is a link to suggested Taipei’s famous night markets.
Personally I love to go to night markets the food. It includes not only Taiwanese traditional cuisines but also dishes from other countries. But let’s focus on the tradition Taiwanese cuisines for now. Night market food is mainly snack, meaning it is a small portion of food, therefore, a night out in night market you can try multiple kinds of food. For what food to eat in Taiwanese night market, please read 16 Of The Best Things You Must Eat at a Taiwanese Night Markets.
Fried Chicken Bites (Yan Su Ji)
Today I am going to focus on one of the most popular and representative Taiwanese street food is called “Yan Su Ji”, it is basically fried chicken bites. The chicken is marinated with different spices and sauce for hours and deep fried with a sweet potato starch. It is often served with fried basil to add a flavor to the chicken. In night markets, street vendors normally sell fried chicken bites along with other vegetables, meat, fish balls and so on.
As seen in the picture below, customers can select what you like and put them into a small basket, and the vendors will deep-fried them together. Most of the time, fried chicken is a must-order in such snack bars.
Taiwanese Fried chicken bites is one of my favourite cuisine of Taiwan. I will be sharing how you can make this delicious, crispy and flavourful Taiwanese fried chicken bites easily at home.
Fried Chicken Bites (Yan Su Ji)
Makes about 2-3 serving
For the chicken:
- 500g of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into pieces)
- 5 heads of garlic
- 3 spoons of light soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoons of white pepper
- ¼ teaspoons of five-spice powder
- ¼ teaspoons of sugar
- 30ml of white wine
- vegetable or peanut oil for frying, prepare as much as needed.
For the breading:
- 1 cup of sweet potato starch
- some basil leaves
- Marinate the chicken (already chopped in pieces) with peeled garlic, light soy sauce, white pepper, five spice powder, sugar, wine in a large bowl. Marinate for at least 1-2 hours, or you can do this even a day ahead and store in the refrigerator for even better flavor.
- After the chicken is marinated, place the sweet potato starch in a bowl, dip the chicken in the starch. Remember to put the chicken that is covered in potato starch in a separate plate, and wait for a few minutes until the starch is a bit soaked and turned into the color of marinated chicken.
- Heat the oil to medium high heat around 160° to 170°C in a wok pan. Drop the chicken pieces (after step 2) into the oil and deep fry until the chicken is crispy and golden.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, drop the basil leaves in for a few seconds until its crispy then served it with the fried chicken bites.
- As the chicken is already marinated, they are not often accompanied with any dipping sauces, however, if you feel the flavor isn’t strong or salty enough, adding some white pepper, salt or spicy chilly powder is recommended.
- Besides the fried chicken bites, you can try frying other vegetable for instances broccoli or green beans along with the chicken just like how Taiwanese people can buy from the street vendors in night markets
If you are interested in trying Taiwanese street food, and not having any holiday any time soon, try my recipe and have a taste of Taiwanese food before visiting!
See you next week!