Wú Gǔ Jī Liǔ(Chinese: 无骨鸡柳) is one of the most common street food found not only in Shanghai but all over China. Almost every student has tasted this typical street food at the school gate during their school days. It is very common that a crowd of students gather around the vendor to buy the chicken fingers after classes on their way home. Not expensive, generally there’s only￥2 that you can buy one strip.
Liǔ in Chinese means willow. The reason why it is called Jī Liǔ is that the chicken breast has to be cut into several slices of the shape of willow leaves before fried. Different from making it at home, most of the chicken fingers were fried once before vendors come to street to sell them. And when someone wants to buy the chicken fingers, the vendor will fry them again to warm them.(one thing makes it unhealthy is that sometimes the vendor even fries them 3 or more times without changing oil) Before being eaten, the chicken fingers will usually be topped with various flavoring including paprika, ground cumin and hot sauce. Along with a stick inserted, the chicken fingers are easy to hold to eat on the street.
Chicken breast is main and essential. The marinade is necessary which is a mixture of water, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, yellow wine, MSG(monosodium glutamate), table salt, sugar, ground white pepper, garlic powder, and oil.
Cut chicken breast into pieces, and then cut chicken breast pieces into strips as willow leaves. Insert a wooden stick into per strips. Mix all the ingredients together to make marinade. Soak the chicken strips in the marinade in refrigerator for 12 hours to flavor and soften them thoroughly. It is recommended to turn all the chicken strips over in marinade every 2 hours. When the chicken strips are well soused with marinade after 12 hours, pour about 300ml oil to pot and then heat it. When bubbles can be seen, put the chicken strips into hot oil and fry them for about 2 minutes. Then take them out and get rid of oil.
Different from classic friend chicken, there’s no flour wrapping around the chicken. But since it became popular after 2000, it honestly has something to do with western fried chicken. So it’s more like a variation: a type of Chinese localized western fast food. As for street food, to make them faster and sell them more on the street, the vendors fry them at home, so those chicken strips are just semi-finished products, and they fry them again on the street before selling them. And sometimes, owing to problems, they will fry these chicken strips three times and even more. Though it is unhealthy, this repeated process is normally what we usually called street food style.
xiāng sū Jī Liǔ – Chicken Fingers/Chicken Strips – 香酥鸡柳
General information: Chicken strips vendor Mr. Zhang around Nextage Department Store on Zhangyang Raod