Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sandstorm/Windsand Chicken

ss chick
Sandstorm chicken, two years ago.

Two years ago, I posted this recipe based on a dish I ate in a restaurant. Since then, I've improved on the recipe and so I'm posting it again, totally fine-tuned.

Here's my version of Moon Bell's sandstorm chicken. Behind the dramatic name, it's basically deep-fried cumin-flavored chicken. My China Chinese friends have not heard of sandstorm or storm sand chicken so I am not sure if this is a common Xinjiang dish or if it's a variation of another Chinese dish called wind sand chicken. I've been replicating Moon Bell's dishes recently and I think my sand storm chicken now tastes as good as the restaurant's although to be honest the restaurant's chicken seems crispier. One way to get crispier chicken skin is to re-fry it but I don't bother with that. Btw, Karen the proprietor is  the most friendly restaurant owner you'll ever meet. I have told her that the pieces of chicken have shrunk and the cumin is hardly detectable and I hope she does something about that.  Even the chili powder garnish around the plate that represents red desert sand is now missing, because "some of our customers don't want too spicy a dish".

The cumin gives a wonderful flavor to the chicken. I eat at least 3 pieces each time I cook this. If you don't have wine, a beer will be the perfect companion. Don't forget to sprinkle some chili powder or paprika (if kids are eating) over the fried chicken and around the plate. Sit back and bask in compliments.

Instead of garlic bits, I sometimes use garlic powder. Less work and makes dish look more sandy.

Sandstorm Chicken
2 whole chicken legs (drumsticks n thigh)
1 t salt
some white pepper
1 t cumin (jintan putih) powder
1/4 t chicken stock granules
1/4 t sugar
1 egg

Garnish: crispy garlic bits (chopped garlic fried in oil until crispy)
chili powder or paprika

1. Chop the drumsticks into two each and the thighs into three.

2. 'Massage' the above ingredients into the chicken pieces with your fingers and leave them covered in the fridge to marinade at least 1 hour.

3. Put the following into a clean plastic bag:

1/4 cup corn flour*
1/4 cup plain flour* (or potato flour)
2 t cumin powder (freshly ground is best)
a large pinch of salt
1/8 t chicken granules, grounded finely or a pinch of msg (optional)

* I got even better results using Korean ready-mix 'KFC' flour instead of the corn flour and plain flour mixture. Just add the salt, msg and cumin for the flavor.

*also, as pointed out by a reader, potato flour makes very crispy chicken. The Japanese use a mix of potato and cornflour to make crispy chicken called karaage chicken.

4. Put about 5 cups or more of oil into a small pot or wok. When it is hot, throw in a very small bit of garlic. If it sizzles and rises immediately to the surface of the oil, the oil is ready. Throw in the chopped garlic. Let it fry for a few seconds and when it just begins to color, scoop it out with a fine sieve. Remember that the garlic will still cook after you take it out so don't let it brown or it'll be bitter. Drain garlic bits on a piece of kitchen paper.

5. Drop a piece of chicken into the seasoned flour in the plastic bag and shake bag to coat chicken all over. If you like a thicker coating, press chicken firmly into the flour. Take the piece of chicken out and shake excess flour off. Carefully drop chicken piece into the oil. Add another few pieces more to the oil but do not overcrowd the oil because the temperature will drop too much. About 4-6 pieces at a time is good, depending on the amount of oil. After frying 2 minutes at high heat, turn heat down to medium. Fry the chicken until well-cooked through so that the skin is very crisp. After all the chicken pieces are fried, you can re-fry the chicken pieces ('second frying') to make them even crispier. I usually don't bother.

6. Arrange chicken pieces on a plate, scatter fried garlic on top and throw a pinch of chili powder or paprika across chicken and plate.

I tasted msg on the plate at Moon Bell (dragged my finger across the plate to pick up the paprika), so you can sprinkle a pinch of Chinese msg powder called ve tsin or some aji no moto (grind it finely) over the chicken. I don't bother with this because the chicken is excellent enough as it is.


"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

hmmm i had another dish with direct translation "wind sand chicken" but its roasted chicken with lots of fried garlic on top..

this looks different..

Anonymous said...

Looks crispy. Looks better than KFC chicken which is always soggy.


ekeng said...

i tried the one at Moon bell before..Now i wish i can try your version of Sandstorm Chicken :)

zurin said...

I make a similar spice coated chicken rub but I roast it and its really good. Will post it soon. What a ceative name! sandstorm chicken... :)

Lily Anette said...

Love cumin and this looks like my kind of dish!

terri@adailyobsession said...

joe: i've heard of wind sand chicken /feng sa ji but never tried it

anon: kfc is on the way out...

ekeng: how's life in kl?

zurin: am waiting for ur post! i love ur recipes/posts bc they are true n tried. btw, i made the zebra cake but it turned into a marble cake bc i used a diff butter cake recipe (but ur method to 'zebra' it) n it doesn't work bc i think the batter has to be quite liquidy.

lilyann: i lov cumin too, yum!

Jeri said...

yummy ! not sure if you might be interested but I have discovered recently wheat flour is best for frying chicken :)

terri@adailyobsession said...

jeri: as in the pack with the green wording? how is ur recipe? tell tell!

Laura said...

Hello Terri!
How are you?
I think I'll give it a try!! It seems really good!!
I'm not good in cooking meal, I usually prefer cooking cakes or biscuits....but it's time to learn something different now!!
Have a nice day!

Agnes said...

Oh! So yummy~

Anonymous said...

Another simple and delicious dish. My kind of food. Btw, I cooked the chicken and tofu boks with glass noodle and it turned out really well. Love you! Thanks again, R.

Food so delicious! said...

oh dear!! oh dear!! where did you get all these yummy dishes from? Sigh.. I have no choice but to try this dish too....

You mentioned that it is just as good if I were to use garlic powder? Hmmm...

thanks for posting all these yummy dishes.. I cook daily for my daughter's lunch and sometimes I just dont know what to cook.

Hida said...

Hmm I think using sweet potato instead of corn starch to mix with flour will make it more crispy. Tried and tested =)

TeaLady said...

Hi Terri. AS a Southern USA gal, Fried chicken is something we are genetically demanded to learn how to make. And I can. Now I will have to try these flavor combinations. Love cumin anyway.

Hope all is well with your family. Will come more often. sorry I haven't been to visit.

Katie said...

What a great name for this dish - the chicken looks like it's been in a sandstorm! I'm definitely craving fried chicken for dinner now!

The Makan & Minum Monster said...

Thanks for the recipe Terri. Will def give it a shot.
Have you tried Moon Bell's soups? I was a fan of their fish claypot soup during the rainy weather we had recently. Was feeling sniffley and Karen recommended it - it cured what ailed me :)
If you've not tried it I'd really like to hear your thoughts/feedback on that dish.

jimctang said...

did you announce that you are on vacation somewhere ?
just wondering more info. jimctang

terri@adailyobsession said...

laura: have you tried making this yet?

agnes: make some!

fooddelicious: me too, smtimes i don't know what to cook:)

hida: yes yes like how the japanese make karaage chicken

tealady, katie: you must make this soon! love the cumin flavor.

makanmonster: i've been to moonbell quite regularly recently. ok, will try the soup. my son loves the large flat noodles with chicken n potatoes. tried tt yet?

jim:was sort of down but am coming up:) thanks for asking:)

Laura said...

Hi Terri!!
I've made it yesterday...and it was really really good!!
The most difficult part for me was to cut the chicken in pieces!! How do you do it? Do you leave the bones??
Well, I'm not good in cooking meat, but I think I should start to learn!! :-)

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