As a self-confessed foodie, I am ashamed to say that I watch Iron Chef religiously. Not just the standard Japanese version, but the replicated American version. I can spend hours watching heated battles, taking notes and ideas and laughing at the cheesy banter which regurgitates out of not one, but three hosts. Mostly I watch it for ideas, the Iron Chefs are leaders in the American culinary scene, from Bobby Flay and Mario Batali to Cat Kora. Some of the battles may include goats cheese, spinach or calamari, but they can be ‘obscure’ ingredients like eel, Fois Gras, Elk or Shark Fin.
This is where I stumbled upon the use of popcorn on chicken, something so simple which had never crossed my mind before. The challenger chef Daniel Langerer beat Bobby Flay in Battle Beer with a simple dish of popcorn crusted chicken and spinach Spaetzle. The light and aerated texture of popcorn works perfectly as a chicken crust, especially for southern fried chicken. Popcorn adds a beautiful corn flavour, which surprisingly is reminiscent of the Kernel’s famous chicken, only better. It has been a hot and humid week in Melbourne, so I paired the chicken with a fresh Thai mango salad. Vibrant and refreshing, the perfect dish to end a long hot day with an iced cold pale ale.
Thai ‘Popcorn Chicken’ & mango salad.
2 chicken breasts
1 sweet mango, cubed
1 sour green mango, grated
1 cos lettuce
1/2 coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 garlic clove, chopped finely
2cm piece Galangal, finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
Juice from 1 lime
2 tbsp palm sugar
2 tsp black peppercorns
10 cups popcorn, already popped
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 cup flour
Salt and Pepper to season
- Pop the corn kernels, then process in a food processor while warm to resemble rough breadcrumbs. Do not over process, it is the texture which makes it delicious. Add breadcrumbs and reserve.
- Pound chicken breasts quickly underneath plastic film, to ensure that they are tender.
- Make yourself a station, with the egg in one bowl, the flour on a plate and the popcorn breadcrumb mixture.
- Dip the chicken in egg, followed by the flour, back to the egg, then the crumbs. Let sit on a plate in the fridge to cool.
- In a serving bowl, break cos lettuce leaves into bite sized pieces, add grated mango and mix.
- Mix/beat in a bowl: coconut milk, fish sauce, chilli, galangal, kaffir lime and lime juice until combined.
- Heat oil in skillet or large frying pan on medium heat, fry chicken pieces until golden and cooked right through, usually 10 minutes.
- Cut chicken pieces, into 2-3cm strips, quickly toss through salad, add sweet mango pieces.
- Drizzle dressing with each individual serve so that chicken does not get soggy. Serve.