Har Cheong Gai (prawn paste chicken) is one of those dishes that Singaporeans all love but is little known by tourists coming to our island city. Indeed, if you ask any westerner if they would like to try chicken that has been marinated in a putrefied prawn paste, I think they would probably think you are pulling a fast one on them. But for those of us in the know, Har Cheong Gai is the epitome of fried chicken wings. Plump and bursting with umamilicious juices on the inside encased in a shatteringly thin and crisp crust, it is hard to imagine how fried chicken wings can be any better!
I have been searching for an authentic Har Cheong Gai recipe for quite a while. Unfortunately, none of the ones on the internet could give me a Har Cheong Gai like the ones I get at the Cze Char. The way to make Har Cheong Gai is unique amongst other fried chicken recipes in that the chicken is not just marinated first and then either dipped into a batter or dusted with a flour mixture before deep frying. With Har Cheong Gai, the batter is added to the marinade right at the beginning and then the chicken is left to marinade overnight.
I am still trying to figure out why it is done this way. Perhaps it makes it easier for the Cze Char Chef bring out the whole box of pre-marinated chicken from the fridge and deep fry some straightaway and keep the rest till the next customer? Whatever the reason, the results are amazing.