Taiwanese-Style Chicken with Basil and Sichuan Pepper-Salt


  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper, divided
  • 4 8-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 lb.), cut into 2" pieces
  • Peanut or vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 1/2 cups potato flour or potato starch, rice flour, or all-purpose flour
  • 4 red Fresno chiles, with seeds, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches Thai basil leaves with tender stems

Recipe Preparation

  • Whisk garlic, brown sugar, wine, soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. Sichuan pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to combine. Cover and chill 1 hour.

  • Fit a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) with deep-fry thermometer; pour in oil to measure 1" and heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 325°.

  • Place flour in a large shallow bowl and season with salt. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Working in 2 batches, fry chicken, turning often with tongs and adjusting heat to maintain temperature between 325°–350°, until lightly golden, 5–8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Set aside 2 Tbsp. oil.

  • Heat reserved frying oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add chiles and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken and basil and cook, stirring, until basil is just wilted, about 1 minute longer. Stir in remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. Sichuan pepper.

,Photos by Sarah Flotard, food styling by Malina LopezReviews Section

Taiwanese-Style Chicken with Basil and Sichuan Pepper-Salt - Recipes

Have you ever read a food blog review and gone, "I have got to get me a piece of that?" Go on. Admit it. I know you have. If you're reading this blog and the ones that link to it, you probably love food as much as I do.

It happens to me all the time. One moment I'm reading A Passion for Food or mmm-yoso. while I eat my lunch, the next moment I've got a serious jonesing for a deep fried Monte Cristo sandwich or Spam Curry that no amount of the green salad and grilled chicken breast I packed from home can alleviate. So tasty, yet so out of reach.

So, you can understand why when I read this review by Elmomonster about the broken rice at Com Tam Thuan Kieu and realized it was less than fifteen minutes away from my office, I tossed my barely touched salad back in the fridge and went looking for a partner in crime.

(Yes, I'm reviewing the place less than a week after Elmo did. In this case, I'm a biter. Mea culpa, though I am giving full credit for the discovery to my primary source. Consider it a supplemental work. =b)

Although I actually had to wait until the next day to realize my com tam craving, I eventually located a suitable second for this daring escapade fellow manager and next door office neighbor, "the Family Man". The family man is Vietnamese and a com tam fan, so convincing him that we needed to check this place out wasn't difficult. After a fight through traffic due to construction, we arrived.

At this point, I need to make sure you've read Elmo's review, otherwise this article won't make as much sense.

Coincidentally, Com Tam Thuan Kieu is less than a block away from Furiwa Seafood Restaurant, which I reviewed last weekend. Con Tam Thuan Kieu is located on the corner of Lyndon and Brookhurst, just after the 11th and Brookhurst intersection if you're headed into Garden Grove from Fountain Valley.

Let me tell you, bringing along the Family Man was a stroke of genius. I speak about as much Vietnamese as I do Spanish, which means I can name random food items. My guess is that our server that day spoke English to roughly the same degree. Luckily for me, the Family Man is first generation Vietnamese, which means I was in with the in crowd that day. Obtaining seating and water were not issues.

In his review, Elmo covered the #7 Com Tam Thuan Kieu 7 mon A pretty well. So I ordered the #8 Com Tam Thuan Kieu 7 mon B. I've tried to figure out what was actually on my plate to the best of my ability, using the picture I took and the help of the Chinese characters on the menu.

    Bi - Shredded Pork the noodley stuff in the middle. According to Elmo, this item was "Wispy strands of translucent pork skin and julienned meat tossed with toasted rice powder." But if I hadn't know that from his review, I would have sworn I was eating oddly seasoned rice noodles. The pork had a firm, chewy, gelatinous texture with a mildly pleasant taste that wasn't remotely meat-like. As a textural component, it added a bit of variety, but I could take it or leave it.

    Bi - Shredded Pork. See above.

  1. First, apply some nuoc cham to your food. The Family Man likes to sprinkle it on his rice. I like to cut off a piece of protein and dip it.
  2. Then, eat your piece of protein with a spoonful of rice. As typical Asian eaters, the Family Man and I use small pieces of protein and large spoonfuls of rice.
  3. While chewing your food, take a healthy bite of the chile. The Family Man though I was crazy. The heat from Thai bird chiles isn't too bad. If you want to start off slow, eat the red chiles first. Immature chiles are hotter than ripe ones.
  4. If the heat becomes too much of you, eat some of the julienned carrot and daikon pickles provided. The sugar used in the pickle brine will bind to the capsaicin in the chile and neutralize it. Certain chemicals in the daikon will also help.
  5. Sip some of the broth to wash away the last of the pickle and the heat.
  6. Take a bite of cucumber to clear your palate.
  7. Repeat.

#8 Com Tam Thuan Kieu 7 mon B - 7.95

Flavor: B+
Ambience: C+
Service: A (As long as you have a handy native speaker.)

Com Tam Thuan Kieu
14282 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Other Locations:
Com Tam Thuan Kieu
120 E Valley Blvd., Ste. I
San Gabriel, CA 91776

Dec 20, 2011

My New Found Favorite Stinky Tofu - 阿灶伯當歸羊肉湯、臭豆腐

Mmmmm. stinky tofu,
The name might frighten you a bit.
In fact, the taste might actually scare you away -

It might be one of the top five all time street food favorites in Taiwan,
Just like cheeses, while brie and mozzarella are welcomes by nearly all crowds gorgonzola and stilton are considered as "acquired taste."
The same reasoning applies to tofu! Most people enjoy products such as soy milk and silken tofu, but definitely not the case for stinky "fermented" tofu.

Have you ever watch the show Bizarre Foods hosted by Andrew Zimmern?
Well if you do, you probably know the power of this little chunky thing,
The brave and adventurous TV host eats literally everything I mean EVERYTHING - ranging from brains to live worms.

So far I believe only two things almost got him puke:
1. The king of fruits - durian
2. Taiwanese's favorite street food - stinky tofu

Please remain calm and stay on your seat,
As I warned you earlier, it's an acquired taste.
Maybe try the tofu with some Taiwanese style kimchi on the side, I bet it'll make you feel at least a little better

The picture shown in the beginning is my new found favorite stinky tofu,
For most stinky tofu, you get a semi-firm center while biting into the crunchy skin. However, this one has a semi-runny center, should I call it stinky tofu - lava cake style?
So good.

If you plan to visit Taiwan, please ask the locals see where can you find a good stinky tofu stand. That way you get to try true smellest tofu instead of mediocre kinds (that's a good thing or bad thing?)

One little bite won't hurt you,
Well, maybe later on if you have a weak stomach.
But that's all part of traveling fun yeah?

Here's the address for my lovely stinky tofu stand:


Watch the video: Hong Kong Street Food - CRAZY CANTONESE FOOD Tour in Taipei!! DIM SUM + ROAST MEATS! (December 2021).