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Salt and Pepper Chicken

Salt and Pepper Chicken
Salt and Pepper Chicken pictures (2 of 6)

One of my favorite places to eat is Taipei. Taipei reminds me of my hometown Penang, mostly because of a similar spoken dialect and the fiercely celebrated street food culture. Walk down the many small alleys and bustling night markets in Taipei, you are sure to find many great eats in a city that is obsessed with food.

Salt and pepper chicken is a Taiwanese dish that I love. (Another one is three-cup chicken.) Called 盐酥鸡 in Chinese, salt and pepper chicken are basically fried chicken marinated with five-spice powder and served with fried basil leaves. If you’ve been to Taipei and its many colorful night markets, you can’t miss salt and pepper chicken. They are often sold by mobile vendors selling various fried foods and snacks. I don’t have the luxury to travel to Taipei all the time, so I rely on my salt and pepper chicken recipe whenever I feel like having a quick bite in the afternoon.

The essence of salt and pepper chicken lies in the generous use of five-spice powder. Please take note that the five-spice powder used in Taiwanese salt and pepper chicken is different from the regular five-spice powder you are accustomed to. In fact, it’s labeled as “炸盐酥鸡粉” or “fried salt and pepper chicken powder” and it’s made in Taiwan. You can get it at Asian stores, but not all of them carry it though.

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83 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Oh, yes! Thank you for sharing this recipe. We always eat at this Taiwanese cafe and order the deep-fried chicken knee. Now I will be able to make that at home.

    Once again, thank you ever so much!

  2. Wow, this recipe is great and a day late..What I mean is I so needed this recipe yesterday when i made my chicken dish however settled for American Chicken fingers. LOL well there’s always tomorrow, thank you dearly for sharing.

  3. This looks really good! I have this at Chinese restaurants quite a lot, and it’s good to have a recipe on hand. :) Now all I need is to overcome my fear of deep frying… (I tend to shallow fry or oven bake)…

  4. Space Ghost

    Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! I spent two years in Taiwan (as an LDS missionary) and I loved this stuff but have never been able to replicate it _just_ right back here in the States. I’m going to try your recipe sometime this week when I find the time (but probably will not have any until this weekend *sigh*). Now, if you could post a recipe for Taiwanese 甜不辣 (tian-bu-la) that would be most excellent.


  5. I love both 3-cup chicken and this salt and pepper chicken. It’s so moreish that I am munch on them all day. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Making them soon!!

  6. luckyboy

    Thank you for posting this recipe (with great pictures BTW)! I’m going to try your recipe and sample the dish from the night markets when I go to 台北 for Christmas. Nothing better than authentic Asian cuisine.

  7. These morsels of fried chicken is delicious! There’s a Taiwanese street food cafe near my place & I’ve stopped several times to take away this salt & pepper chicken. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  8. I make a five spice fried chicken (using boneless chicken thighs) that is so similar to this except for the fried basil leaves. That’s so creative! Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing.

  9. What a great picture – and dish! It reminds me somewhat of the Japanese Karaage but I think adding salt and pepper and the five spice makes it even better!

  10. yeah, they’re selling this in night markets nowadays.
    if i remember correctly, some are even selling the squid version, which is equally tasty.

  11. i wonder how good this would be if seared then baked for an alternative to deep frying! though, the sound of cracklin’ salt/pepper sounds delish!!

  12. Marlene Jackson

    Hi! I’ve been a follower of your blog for more than a year now, and I just absolutely love your blog your photos, and recipes!!

    Those baskets are sooo cute. Do you know where I could buy them on line?

    Thank you!


  13. joann c

    Thank you so much for this recipe. This is my favourite food from Taipei! I used to eat this a lot whenever I’m in Taipei. I’m so excited to see this recipe. I’m gonna try it as soon as my exams are over. I’m a Penangnite studying in Australia. Miss the food back home so much!

  14. Billy

    MMM, Love this dish! Would love to see some more Taiwanese recipes like Taiwanese Beef Noodles, Oyster Omelettes,etc.. ^_^

  15. It took me forever to find this recipe! They sell this at some restaurants and tapioca places here in Texas, but on the menu it is always called “Crispy Chicken” or “Crispy Basil Chicken.” I never knew it was called “Salt and Pepper Chicken.”

    Also, aren’t you supposed to sprinkle on some salt & pepper on the chicken after you’re done frying? You have pepper in your ingredient list but no salt…so I can see why shaikhmohammed is confused at the name of the recipe LOL

    • The seasoning mix (5-spice powder) that I used has salt, pepper, and various spices in it. This dish is called 盐酥鸡 in Taiwan, or literally, salt and crispy chicken. I call it salt and pepper chicken.

  16. 1 of the most prevalent geniuses of peppers, known as the capsicum, is thought to possess been in existence millions of many years back in present-day Bolivia, in accordance in the direction of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Data and Sources. But, the preliminary known cultivation of peppers happened in Mexico and Central, along with South America ten,000 many years ago.

  17. chickenfog

    I’ve had this on the mainland and in Penang. It’s amazing. But in the US the typical 5-spice is not the one to use (better for hong shao yu (sp?). Where can I order the salt and pepper seasoning online? THX!

  18. allison

    if I do not have access to the 炸盐酥鸡粉 but have regular 五香粉, can I use that in the recipe instead or add some extra spices to compensate?

  19. Francesca

    I love this recipe! Tried it last week for the first time and have done it twice since. My local take away seems to do the salt and pepper chicken with some kind of sauce that has onions and green chilli in which is good but i have no idea what it is. Some kind of light brown savory sauce though I don’t think it’s oyster or soy it is only a light brown clear sauce that isn’t salty.

    I serve mine with rice, though I was wondering, if i wanted a little sauce with it what would you recommended? (though it may well be better just as it is I like to experiment and I don’t know anyone with the experience and skill of you.

    Your recipe is most excellent and the website has stopped me getting take away! Thank you.

  20. Francesca

    Yes I was thinking that this one tastes good enough as it well seasoned just perfectly. I defiantly won’t be buying salt and pepper chicken from a takeaway again this one just far out tastes any i have tried before.

  21. biancs1

    where can i buy the fried salt and pepper chicken powder online? it’s kinda hard to find it in the grocery. and what brand are you using?

  22. Sabrina

    Does ANYONE know where to buy the Caravelle five spice powder? If so, PLEASE post so that we can purchase. Also, has anyone found a five spice powder that they would highly recommend? I have heard that Goldensmell five spice powder is really good but cannot find it anywhere. Please help…

  23. lockedhart

    I tried he recipe as posted but something went wrong. It was not crunchy and it was dark.
    There were a few things that I did that was not part of your recipe.
    1. I marinated longer than 2 hours. Does this matter?
    2. I didn’t have corn flour so I used cornstarch? Is cornstarch a subsitute?
    Help! This sounds so good and would like to try it again.

    Any tips?

  24. greentea

    Always love your recipes, and I am sure this one will be just as good as the others. Do you have the picture of the Taiwanese five spice that you can post up here please? Thank you very much for sharing!

  25. Lani

    I’m new to this blog, and I’m really loving the recipes. Thank you, Rasa! I am wondering if this recipe, minus the basil, would be the same for salty pork chops. I used to get this from my local chinese restaurant, but then I moved.


  26. Christine

    I have the 5 spice powder made from vietnam. Does it have it to be Chinese brand? Also, do you have recipe for salt and pepper fish?

  27. I have to disagree with all the positive comments here. The outcome of this recipe is awful with the an over-powering taste of the 5-spice (3 tbsp???). Since the 5-spice is also dark in colour, the outcome doesn’t come out as pictured. I have tried other recipe and came out exactly as what I usually order from our local chinese take-away shop. Here’s the recipe:


    2 large (about 700g) chicken breast fillets
    2 egg whites
    90g (1/2 cup) rice flour
    75g (1/2 cup) plain flour
    3 tsp sea salt flakes
    3 tsp Chinese five spice
    3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    Rice bran oil, to deep-fry
    Shredded iceberg lettuce, to serve
    Shallot curls (optional), to serve
    Fresh red chilli (optional), seeded, thinly sliced, to serve

    The dipping sauce:

    60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lime juice
    1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
    2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
    1 tbs fish sauce

    Step 1
    Use a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle to cut the chicken crossways into 5mm-thick slices. Use a fork to whisk the egg white in a large bowl until foamy. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

    Step 2
    Place the combined flour, salt, Chinese five spice and pepper in a large bowl.

    Step 3
    To make the Thai dipping sauce, whisk the lime juice, sugar, sweet chilli sauce and fish sauce in a small serving bowl.

    Step 4
    Heat the oil to 180°C in a large saucepan over medium-high heat (when the oil is ready, a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 15 seconds). Add one-quarter of the chicken to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Shake off excess. Add to the oil, 1 at a time, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until light golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat, in 3 more batches, with the remaining chicken and flour mixture, reheating the oil between batches.

    Step 5
    Arrange the lettuce on a serving platter and top with the chicken. Sprinkle with shallot and chilli, if desired. Serve with the dipping sauce.

  28. Gen

    I can’t find that five-spice powder you mention. Is there a recipe to make my own blend? I can only find recipes to make the Chinese-style five-spice powder, and haven’t had any success in searching for this one.

  29. Vicky

    Does the bottle of five spice which you purchased at Little Saigon happen to have an address or name of the company that makes that particular brand of five spice powder? Thanks.. ;-)

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