If you love fried food but hate the fat and calories that come with cooking something in oil, an air fryer can come to the rescue. It uses hot air to cook any protein or vegetables you put in the basket and makes it surprisingly crunchy – usually without too much of a mess and very quickly.
This gluten-free, salt-and-pepper version of a popular Taiwanese street food is perfect for those hot summer days when you don’t feel like standing in front of the stove. Another plus: There’s a good chance you’ll have most of the ingredients on hand, and the preparation couldn’t be easier.
Boneless chicken thighs seasoned with garlic and fresh ginger, dredged in cornstarch and air-fried until each piece is golden-brown and crunchy. It is then stir-fried, covered with a spicy mixture of white pepper, salt, and the aromatic Chinese Five Spice, and garnished with basil and cayenne pepper.
Salt and pepper chicken is often served as a snack, but I paired it with steamed rice and quick pickled cucumbers for a light summer main course.
Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Chicken
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 finely grated garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon brown sugar (or regular sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup starch
for spice mix
2 teaspoons white pepper powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon five spice powder
For optional decorations
Sliced hot pepper of your choice
Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the shredded chicken and mix well. Soak for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
Combine the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. (You’ll get more spice mix than you might use in the end, so adjust the seasoning to your preference.)
When you’re ready to cook, add the cornstarch to the pot of chicken, a few tablespoons at a time. Stir to coat the chicken until all the pieces are covered with cornstarch.
Place the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket (or tray) without overlapping. Drizzle the oil over the chicken until there is no dry cornstarch on the surface.
Set the air fryer to 350 degrees. Place the chicken in the air for 10 minutes. (You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your fryer.) Remove the chicken, flip it over and spray with oil again.
Raise the temperature to 400 degrees and cook the chicken until golden brown, 5 minutes or so. Transfer the chicken pieces to a large bowl. Sprinkle about half of the seasoning mixture over the chicken and toss gently with tongs. Taste the chicken. Add more seasoning mix if needed.
Add the shredded basil to the chicken, garnish with chili and serve with lemon slices on the side, if using. Serve hot as an appetizer or over steamed rice as an appetizer.
Serving: 1 serving
Calories: 318 calories, carbohydrates: 17.4g, protein: 33.2g, fat: 11.9g, saturated fat: 3g, cholesterol: 101mg, sodium: 682mg, potassium: 311mg, fiber: 0.6g, sugar: 0.8 gram. Calcium: 28 mg Iron: 2 mg
Written for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at www.post-gazette.com. Distributed by the Tribune Content Agency.