When I was 4, when I woke up one morning.. I remember grandaunt holding a can of Brown and Polson cornstarch, that she fondly calls as butterfly powder. She looked at me and said, today I'll make something delicious for you with this butterfly powder.
I saw her chopping up a chicken, marinate a big plate of it for a few hours. Then I saw her frying them. When it was my dinner time (Yes, I am always the first to eat at 5pm), grandaunt gave me my favourite part, the middle wing. Then she told me, it's my birthday. That's why we have fried chicken today.
Being so young, I hardly knew what are birthdays, let alone my own birthday. In those days, children's birthdays were usually not celebrated, only birthday of old people are celebrated.
This fried chicken is the favourite of many in the family, still is. Only made by grandaunt for Chinese New Year and birthdays. My 3rd uncle tried to replicate, but it didn't match grandaunt's. I tried it a few times too, and finally got it right. I do remember what she put in, but sometimes the proportions are not right. Grandaunt usually dips her finger into the marinated chicken, taste then spit. Haha, that's how she perfects each recipe, by using her senses, comparing to whatever that is stored in the palate's memory bank.
This method of doing fried chicken is not exclusive to grandaunt. I eaten similar tasting chickens at a few eateries. But nowadays there are so many styles of fried chicken that this method seems old fashioned by now.
I'm still trying to replicate grandaunt's recipes and get them right. It's not easy because the only record we got now, is the memory bank of our palate and it's been 20 years since I've last eaten her cooking.
Old Fashioned Chinese Fried Chicken
in memory of Grandaunt
750gm chicken(half bird)
2 Tbsp ginger juice
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Dark caramel sauce
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
Dash of pepper
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp sesame oil
1. Chop chicken into small pieces and mix with all the seasonings except cornstarch. When everything is well mixed, then put in cornstarch and mix again. (I use my hand and rub everything in, that's how grandaunt does it).
2. Cover and let it marinate for 2-3 hours.
3. Deep fry the chicken pieces until very golden and surface is dry.