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Fragrant Crispy Chicken

It’s the Chinese Year of the Horse, and what better way to celebrate than to fire up your wok? This dish combines succulent dark meat with an extremely tasty marinade. Double-frying the thighs quickly, at high heat, assures the meat is crispy on the outside but still moist on the inside.

Serve with steamed rice and scallion pancakes. Don’t forget the fortune cookies, which you can find in the Asian section of most larger grocery stores.

Fragrant Crispy Chicken

1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 and 1/3 cups peanut or vegetable oil

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions

2 teaspoons sugar

For marinade:

3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

2 teaspoons dark soy sauce

3 green onions

2 slices fresh ginger

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon five-spice powder

1 teaspoon roasted and ground Sichuan pepper- corns (available at Asian markets such as Ni Hoowa in Amherst)

Salt and black pepper

Place chicken thighs between two pieces plastic wrap and lightly pound them until they are evenly flat. Put them into a bowl and set aside.

Make marinade. Combine rice wine, soy sauces, green onions and ginger in a blender and puree. Strain the puree over the chicken. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients, season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and mix well. Let chicken marinate for 45 minutes.

Remove chicken from bowl and reserve marinade. Heat wok or large skillet over high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add chicken and fry for 5 minutes. Remove chicken and drain, then reheat the oil in the wok until it is very hot. Fry chicken again until it is crispy and golden brown. Remove chicken from wok and drain well on paper towels. Drain off all the oil and discard. Cut chicken into slices and arrange on a platter.

Reheat wok over medium heat and add reserved marinade, sesame oil, green onions and sugar. Bring this mixture to a boil and pour over chicken. Serve at once.

Serves 4.

– “Complete Chinese Cookbook” by Ken Hom (Firefly, 2011, $35)