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Air fryer makes salt and pepper chicken simple

Gretchen Mckay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If you love fried food but hate the fat and calories that come with cooking something in oil, an air fryer can come to the rescue. It uses hot air to cook whatever protein or veggies you put in its basket and makes them surprisingly crisp – typically without much mess and in pretty quick fashion.

This gluten-free version of salt and pepper chicken, a popular Taiwanese street food, is perfect for those hot days of summer when you just don’t feel like standing in front of a stove. Another plus: There’s a good chance you have most of the ingredients on hand, and it couldn’t be easier to prepare.

Chunks of boneless chicken thigh are marinated in garlic and fresh ginger, dredged in cornstarch and then air fried until every piece is golden-brown and crispy. It’s then tossed and coated in a spicy mix of white pepper, salt and fragrant Chinese five spice and garnished with basil and chili.

Salt and pepper chicken is often served as a snack, but I paired it with steamed rice and quick-pickled cucumbers for a light summer main dish.

Air-fryer chicken cooks up crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Chicken

For marinade

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For chicken

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut to 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Oil spray

For spice mix

  • 2 teaspoons white pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon five-spice powder

For optional garnishes

  • Sliced basil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Sliced hot peppers of your choice

Combine marinade ingredients in a big bowl. Add diced chicken and mix well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to overnight in the fridge.

Combine the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl and stir to mix well. (You will get more spice mix than you might end up using, so adjust the seasoning according to your preference.)

When you’re ready to cook, add the cornstarch to the bowl with chicken, a few tablespoons at a time. Stir to coat the chicken, until all the pieces are covered with cornstarch.

Place the chicken pieces into your air fryer basket (or tray), without overlapping. Spray oil onto the chicken until there’s no dry cornstarch on the surface.

Set air fryer to 350 degrees. Place chicken in air for 10 minutes. (You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your fryer.) Take out the chicken, flip and spray with oil again.

Raise the temperature to 400 degrees and cook until the chicken turns golden brown, 5 minutes or so. Transfer all the chicken pieces to a big bowl. Sprinkle about half of the spice mix over the chicken and gently toss it with a pair of tongs. Taste the chicken. Add more spice mix if needed.

Add the sliced basil to the chicken, garnish with chili pepper and serve with lemon wedges on the side, if using. Serve hot as an appetizer or over steamed rice as an entree.

Serves 4.

— Omnivorescookbook.com

Nutrition per serving: Calories: 318 kcal, Carbohydrates: 17.4 g, Protein: 33.2 g, Fat: 11.9 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 101 mg, Sodium: 682 mg, Potassium: 311 mg, Fiber: 0.6 g, Sugar: 0.8 g, Calcium: 28 mg, Iron: 2 mg