Thursday, May 3, 2012

Paper-Wrapped Chicken

This dish is probably in my top five list of most labor intensive dishes.  It looks cool, but it took a long time to assemble the packets, and I had help!  But, it was a fun step outside of my comfort zone.  Wait, what?  I'm supposed to wrap chicken in wax paper and then deep fry it in my wok?!  Uh...

Having never attempted anything like this before, I suspected that my neat little packets of chicken and veggies would turn into a peanut oil flavored mess wrapped in soggy wax paper. While some of the packets did get some oil in, most of them were fine! The marinated chicken was tender, the vegetables were flavorful and still had a little crunch to them, and the addition of some prosciutto to the packets was a nice way to add some saltiness.

Here they are before I fried them.  Packets filled with chicken, prosciutto, red chili, ginger, and cilantro.

Fifteen packets are WAY TOO MANY for two people.  The recipe suggested that 30 packets would serve 6-10 as an appetizer, and I cut it in half.  Still too much food.  I would serve this to four people with a veggie dish and a salad or summer rolls, not with rice like I did.

We made these assembly line style.  First we put the chicken in the marinade and then chopped all the ingredients and placed them in separate bowls. Then, Dave placed the chicken and prosciutto in the center of each wax paper piece and I did the veggies and folded them up.  He folded some too, since it seemed complicated and we both wanted to give it a try.  Cooking them was the easiest part, they get tossed in a wok for about 3 minutes. 

The air getting into the packets worried me a bit because I thought the oil would get in, but it didn't (for most of them).

I have no idea why I made so much rice. 

Paper-Wrapped Chicken
Serves 4
From Complete Chinese Cookbook by Ken Hom

2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and black pepper

Chicken Packets
4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
15 shreds of red chili, about 1 1/2 inches long
30 fresh cilantro leaves
15 pieces of prosciutto, 3 inches square
30 shreds of green onion, 1 1/2 inches long
15 shreds of fresh ginger, 1 1/2 in x 1/4 in
15 sliced pieces of water chestnut (I used canned)
2.5 cups peanut oil (for frying)

1) Cut the chicken into 15 pieces about 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 1/4 inch. Mix in glass bowl with the marinade ingredients and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
2) While the chicken is marinating, slice up all the ingredients as listed above and cut 15 6 x 6 inch pieces of wax paper.
3) To assemble the packets, place the square on a cutting board with one corner facing toward you.  Then stack the following in the center of the paper: 1 shred chili, 1 leaf cilantro, 1 piece of chicken, 1 square of prosciutto, 2 shreds of green onion, a shred of ginger, a slice of water chestnut, and top with another cilantro leaf.
4) To fold the packets: fold the first corner over the ingredients, then fold in the sides.  Then fold the entire package in half, leaving a flap at the corner furthest away from you.  Tuck the flap in to secure the package.  Repeat to make the other packets.
5) Heat a wok over high heat until it's hot and then add the oil.  When the oil is hot and slightly smoking, deep fry the packages for about 3 minutes. If they won't all fit, do it in batches.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well and then place on paper towels.  Then they are ready, serve with a vegetable side dish and a salad, or with summer rolls.

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