All hail my empress chicken recipe!
If you’re looking for Asian chicken recipes that’ll impress, look no further than these crispy chicken nuggets dripping with a sweet, tangy glaze that packs a spicy punch.
In the family tree of Chinese chicken recipes, empress chicken is the spicy cousin of sweet and sour chicken recipes. The breading creates a crave-able crunch and the sauce brings a tang of vinegar with a touch of sweetness. You top it all off with as much heat as you can stand!
Sound appetizing? It should — this recipe is one for the books!
I love all Asian recipes! That flavor palette always knows how to perfectly combine sweet, savory, and spicy into delectable ways. And this recipe is a celebration of all that makes Asian recipes great!
- Spice adjustable
- Less than an hour to make
- Crowd-pleasing Asian flare!
- Fresh ingredients, fresh taste
How To Make Empress Chicken Recipe
To make this recipe, you start by marinating the chicken breast pieces, then breading and frying them. The sauce gets prepared in the same pan, then the chicken takes a dip in the sauce before serving.
What makes the chicken in this empress chicken recipe stand out is a process called “velveting.” To velvet chicken, you marinate the meat in a combination of egg whites, cornstarch, and rice wine. This tenderizes the meat, which is then often blanched to protect the meat from overcooking during the stir-fry.
It is absolutely possible to get restaurant-quality Asian food at home. You got this!
If this recipe seems too overwhelming, just think of it as any other chicken stir fry! Seasoned chicken fried and served over rice. Easy peasy!
Chicken: This recipe uses big chunks of boneless chicken breasts, rather than the sliced chicken breasts you often find in other stir-frys. You may be tempted to go for cheaper chicken thighs, but trust me, you want the meaty, moist chicken breasts for this dish.
Breading/Frying: To make sure you fry your chicken as well (and safely!) as you can, here are some of the best tips you can follow:
- Don’t skip the resting step. Not only does it let the chicken tenderize, but it also helps the coating ingredients stick.
- You do not need a deep-fryer. You can safely and effectively fry chicken with just a home skillet or wok. Invest in a good cooking thermometer that can clip onto the side of your pot, and monitor the temperature of the oil as you fry. Consistent temperature is critical to cooking the chicken without burning the breading.
- Keep it warm. If you need to keep some of the chicken warm while you’re batch-frying, put the cooked pieces on a cookie a sheet and place it in a 250-degree oven.
Vodka: The only unusual ingredient in my recipe marinade is vodka. Vodka fights keep the gluten in the batter from getting overly thick and doughy. It also evaporates more quickly than non-alcoholic liquids, which means more (and bigger!) air bubbles that create lacy edges around the chicken and tons of extra crunch.
It’s a game-changer in this batter, but it’s a secret ingredient you can try in other fried dishes too.
Wok vs. Skillet: If you don’t have a wok, simply use a large skillet with high, slanted sides. Since there’s less surface area, you’ll just need to avoid overcrowding the pan and cook in batches if necessary. Overcrowding will reduce the temperature of the oil significantly, and you’ll have soggy, greasy chicken instead of the delicate, crispy morsels we’re after.
Skip the Chicken: Substitute a pound of peeled and deveined shrimp for the chicken in this dish, and you’ll shave off a few of the Empress Chicken calories.
How do you keep this recipe just as yummy for tomorrow’s leftovers as it is for tonight’s dinner? Read on for the best storing tips!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! Treat your empress chicken recipe like you would chicken nuggets. Though, be warned — since your fried chicken nuggets are covered in that delicious sauce, you will lose that signature crunch over time.
If you know you’ll want to freeze your empress chicken recipe leftovers, I suggest not tossing your chicken nuggets in the sauce until you eat them. That way, you can freeze your chicken nuggets and sauce separately, and then when you go to reheat your chicken, you can use a toaster oven to get some of that crunch back.
Whatever you decide, you’ll be able to store your chicken nuggets for up to three months in the freezer.
Make Ahead Tips
There are a lot of delicious elements at work in this recipe, but the best way to speed the process without sacrificing flavor is to whip up the marinade ahead of time. You can safely marinate your chicken in the fridge for up to 48 hours ahead of time (you can actually go as far as two days in advance, but it isn’t necessary).
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
All the same storage rules apply for the fridge as they did for the freezer. If you want to retain the integrity of your chicken’s crunchy exterior, store it separately from the sauce. You’ll be safe to store your chicken in the fridge for up to 3-4 days that way!
This recipe is best to serve on top of a bowl of steaming hot rice! Add Asian coleslaw on the side to complete your meal!
Now it’s time to see what trouble we can get into with variations!
- If you love noodles more than rice, beef chow mein and shrimp lo mein are perfect for you!
- You can still enjoy a bowl of steaming hot rice with hunan beef and Szechuan beef if you have beef on hand.
- This recipe can be partnered with lettuce too to lessen calories. Why not try PF Chang’s lettuce wraps too?
Chicken and Marinade:
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vodka
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 pound chicken breast boneless and skinless, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 3/4 cups peanut oil
- 1 bunch green onions thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 fresh jalapeno seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon
dried red chili flakes
- Make the Marinade: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg white until foamy. Stir in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and vodka. Pour half of this mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 3 tablespoons cornstarch to the half of the marinade remaining in the large bowl. Add Chicken pieces and using your hands, toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
- Make the Dry Coating: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in reserved egg marinade and mix, breaking up large clumps, until mixture has coarse, smaller or granular clumps. Add chicken pieces and using your hands, toss to coat evenly. Press to help coating adhere. Remove well-coated chicken pieces, shaking off excess coating, and spread out on a wire baking rack. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, Make the Sauce: Add all sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- In a wok, heat peanut oil to about 350 degrees. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, carefully lower pieces of dry coated chicken into hot oil, cook, stirring frequently, so pieces don't stick together, monitoring the temperature of the oil and maintaining a temperature of 325-370 degrees. Cook until chicken is cooked about 3-4 minutes. Remove cooked chicken to a paper towel lined plate and drain well.
- Drain all but 1 tablespoon oil from wok. With the heat on high until just smoking, add the half the green onions, jalapeno, and red chili flakes and cook just until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds. Add the chicken back to the wok along with the sauce and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce has thickened. Garnish with the remaining half of the green onions and a few red pepper flakes and serve.
Fans Also Made:
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Got your belly rumbling for more Asian dishes? Here are some must-try!
- Air Fryer Egg Rolls – Super crispy shell, awesome meat & veggie filling
- Honey Walnut Shrimp – battered shrimp, sweetened walnuts, with sweet honey sauce
- Beef Kabobs – An exotic dining you don’t have to leave the backyard for!
- Thai Beef Salad – layered with amazing Thai flavors that will make eating a salad as a main dish a pleasure.
Whew! Have you cooled down from this empress chicken recipe yet? I’m still in spice heaven from all those jalapenos and chili flakes!
How hot can you handle your Asian dishes? Let me know in the comments!