We’re all rained in and there’s only so much hot chai and aloo pakoda I can have before I start to lose my mind. The leftover oil from deep-frying pakodas has been decanted and will sit on the counter, perfectly good for cooking later. The problem is that I suddenly have more time on my hands and I’m already itching to get back into the kitchen for round two.
Once upon a time, I must have been queasy about the funky strong odour of nuoc cham or Vietnamese dipping sauce, but today, I use it a bit too liberally. This recipe for Viet chicken lollipops is a fast favourite, and incredibly simple too. The chicken lollipops are soaked in the nuoc cham for 15-20 minutes to get some flavour in there without making it too salty, then dipped in batter and deep-fried. It couldn’t be more simple.
There are two things crucial in this recipe- a balanced nuoc cham sauce, which should be the perfect balance of salty, sweet, sour and bitter, and for your wings to thaw at room temperature before you begin. If you end up frying right out of the refrigerator, it will bring down the temperature of the deep-frying oil, and the chicken wont cook evenly.
Nuoc Cham Chicken Lollipops
Yield 12-15 pieces
A funky Vietnamese dipping sauce, this nuoc cham makes chicken wings taste sweet, sour, salty and bitter all at the same time.
For the Nuoc Cham:
Fish sauce 1/2 cup
Garlic 6 cloves, smashed with the back of a large knife and finely chopped
Bird’s eye chillies 3, slit lengthwise and finely chopped
Grated ginger 3 1/2 tsp
Sugar 4-5 tsp
Limes 3, juiced
Chicken lollipops 12-15, thawed
A combination of cornflour and all-purpose flour for the batter (1:2 ratio. I used 2 tbsp cornflour for 4 tbsp maida/all-purpose flour)
Salt and pepper to season
Sweet chilli sauce for serving (optional)
Marinate the chicken lollipops in the nuoc cham sauce for 15-20 minutes.
Heat the vegetable oil for deep-frying. Thin out some cornflour and wheat flour with a bit of water to make a batter of coating consistency.
Next, lift a lollipop and let the excess marinade fall off. Transfer to the cornflour and flour batter and list it, letting the excess drop down, then carefully drop it in the hot oil.
Do this for two to three more lollipops. Let the lollipops cook for 3-4 minutes till golden-brown and cooked through. Transfer to paper towels and serve with sweet chilli sauce (optional).