Salty Crispy Chicken (Sien Shu Gi)


Sien Shu Gi is to die for: simple yet scrumptious. It’s a famous street snack in Taiwan. On a recent visit I hung around the street-food stand, watching the chef prepare this, determined not to leave the country without it. In the end I bribed him. (Just kidding!) Here is my adapted version, with chicken thighs as the meat is a lot juicier than breast. Drumsticks work well too. Good accompaniments would be steamed rice or chunky fries and a cold beer.

Preparation time: 5 minutes plus marinating
Cooking time: 7 minutes


  • 8 oz skinless chicken thighs, each thigh piece chopped in half across the bone
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • 5 tablespoons peanut oil

For the Marinade

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ½ tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 medium red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ spring onion, green parts only, finely chopped


  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken pieces, turning to coat.

    For best results leave in the fridge overnight.

  2. Coat the chicken pieces in potato starch.
  3. Heat a wok or pan and add the oil. Add the chicken and fry lightly for 5–6 minutes until the thighs are golden brown on all sides. Drain the chicken of any excess oil on paper towels.
  4. Serve sprinkled with finely chopped chili and spring onion and a portion of chunky fries.