GRAMMY GRUB: MC Hammer Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

By Trevor Lui

MC Hammer Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Recipe by: Trevor Lui

Instagram: @trevorlui

Prep: 5 Minutes, plus 8 hour marinating time

Cook: 5 – 10 minutes


  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 8 Thai basil leaves
  • Chilli sauce or plum sauce to serve

Customers always asked about the name of this dish. When I was growing up in the eighties and nineties, MC Hammer was a popular music artist and, at one point, a brand celebrity for a fried chicken company. I recalled his Hammertimne dance promoting popcorn chicken, and hence the name MC Hammer Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken. the dish, derived from Japanese Karaage and makes for a great party snack or side dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine garlic, mirin, sesame oil, soy sauce (or tamari), and sugar. Add chicken to the marinade, stirring to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Put potato starch in a medium bowl. Add chicken and stir well to ensure all pieces are thoroughly covered.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Using a metal slotted spoon, slowly lower chicken into the oil and deep-fry for 5-6 minutes until golden, crispy brown and internal temperature is 180ºf. Transfer chicken to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, salt and pepper.

using a metal slotted spoon, lower basil leaves into the hot oil and deep-fry for 6-8 seconds. Transfer leaves to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

Garnish popcorn chicken with the basil leaves and serve immediately with chilli or plum sauce.


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