Taiwanese Basil Fried Chicken | 鹽酥雞
Lets Talk About Taiwan First
- Taiwan is an island off the eastern coast of China. Its about 14,000 sq mi which is like twice the size of Massachusetts.
- Taiwan’s population is 24 million, which is the same size as the entire continent of Australia!
- They are the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage.
- The tallest building in the world was Taipei 101, which is what 101 by Tea Haus was named after!
- Millions of Chinese people fled to Taiwan after Mao established the PROC back in 1949
- Taiwan is one of the leading countries in the semiconductor industry
- Most importantly, Boba was invented in Taiwan!
Taiwan Night Market
If you ever visit Taiwan as a person from the west, you absolutely must check out the night markets that open every night (pictured above). Each night, vendors from all the various boroughs set up shop and display their wares on blocked off city blocks. You will find everything from fashion,technology, home-made crafts, pets, Nike stores, McDonalds, KFC, massage parlors, arcades and most importantly food stalls!
Vendors sells a local cuisine in tapas sized portions. Here are some popular food items you probably never heard of:
- Basil Fried Chicken
- Boba Milk Tea
- Fish Cakes
- Stinky Tofu
- Oyster Pancakes
- Fresh Tropical Fruit (Have you ever heard of a waxed apple!?”
- Black Pepper Steak
- Grilled Taiwanese Sausages
One Stands Above The Rest
The Taiwanese Basil Fried Chicken (鹽酥雞) reigns supreme in the hierarchy of Taiwanese street foods. There are franchises of restaurants serving only basil fried chicken all over Asia! It typically will come in a small waxed bag with a small plastic bag wrapped around that. The chicken is cut into bite sized pieces and you eat them with skewers.
I went to elementary school in Taiwan for a couple years back in the 90s and I always remembered how strange it was to be able to bring this bag of popcorn chicken in to the movie theaters lol. Fun fact, we used to stand and listen to the national anthem played before every movie, which reminded me of both the pledge of allegiance as well as the national anthem before basketball games.
Anyway, when basil fried chicken is done right, words cannot do it justice. The combination of fried garlic, pepper, sugar, basil and soy sauce give it the perfect balance of salty, umami, savory, peppery and tiny bit of sweet.
This dish is a perfect pair with Boba Milk Tea. And it is to no one’s surprise that Tea Haus has succeeded due to this miracle dish.