Ji Pai (Dà jī pái, 大雞排) are huge, flat pieces of fried chicken from Taiwan. They are popular as a street food with vendors selling pieces nearly 12 inches wide. Chicken breasts are pounded until they are the size of a steak, coated in flour/egg/sweet potato flour, then deep-fried until crisp. Before frying, they are marinated in a sweet and salty soy sauce mixture. It is best to let the chicken refrigerate 6 hours to overnight, but 30 minutes will work in a pinch. Right before serving, I sprinkled the Ji Pai with a seasoned salt and pepper mixture. I paired the chicken with fries, but you can also slice the pieces into thin strips and serve alongside a salad and rice.
Even though I fried the chicken twice (the second fry is only for 10 seconds to help seal in the flavor), this chicken wasn’t greasy. It has a crisp coating while the chicken inside remains tender and juicy.
I made a finishing powder with salt, black and white peppers, and five spice powder. There are a few other variations that I have come across. Some even include ground dried plums or sugar. Feel free to add a little more five spice powder if you want that flavor to shine through.
Taiwan Duck has a video on her site of how to prepare Ji Pai. She also butterflies one large chicken breast to create a huge flat piece instead of slicing it in half like I did.
Sweet potato flour (camote/kamote flour, sweet potato starch) is made by drying sweet potatoes and grinding them into a powder. The resulting flour is gluten-free and adds a slight sweetness. The color of the powder ranges from orange to beige. You can find it in international markets featuring South American or Southeast Asian ingredients or in health food stores (particularly those with a gluten-free section). It is also available on Amazon (for a higher price): Harina de Camote. I haven’t attempted it yet, but you can also make your own. If you are unable to locate it, substitute with cornstarch.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon five spice powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sweet potato flour
Salt and Pepper Powder:
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
Slice each chicken breast horizontally through the middle to form two thin halves. Pound each of the halves until thin and wide, about 1/4 inch thick.
In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, five spice powder, white pepper, baking soda, garlic, and sesame oil. Add the pounded chicken pieces, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours to overnight.
Pour oil into a wide saucepan at least 2 inches deep. Place over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Spread the flour over one plate. In a wide bowl, beat together the eggs. On another plate, spread out the sweet potato flour. Line another plate with a towel.
Take one of the chicken pieces out of the bowl, allowing the excess marinade to drip off. Coat both sides in the flour, then the egg. Allow the excess egg to drip off, then coat in the sweet potato flour.
Gently transfer the chicken to the heated oil. Fry until golden, then flip and fry the other side until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
Once the chicken pieces are fried, make sure the oil is thoroughly heated and fry each piece again for 10 seconds. Remove from oil and drain on towel.
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, black pepper, white pepper, and five spice powder. Sprinkle over hot chicken and serve immediately.