Chef May Chow made a big splash on the Hong Kong culinary scene in 2013 with her tiny restaurant, Little Bao, a counter seating-only, no-reservations shop in the SoHo district. She’s since moved the restaurant to larger premises in Causeway Bay, where she continues to serve up a menu of bao (steamed buns with a variety of fillings) and other crowd-pleasing dishes, such as this yuzu fried chicken rice bowl.
Chow, who was voted Asia’s best female chef for 2017 by more than 300 culinary experts in the Asia's 50 Best list published by William Reed Business Media, says the dish is composed of flavours she likes: fried chicken seasoned with chillies and yuzu (a Japanese citrus), with vegetables and Japanese rice.
The quality of the main elements is important to the success of the dish: Chow uses fresh “three yellow chicken” drumsticks (although you can use whatever good, fresh birds are available) and Koshihikari rice (again, you can substitute another high-quality rice). To balance the fried chicken, Chow serves cucumber pickles and a crunchy salad made with Chinese cabbage, takuan (pickled daikon) and watermelon radish, but says you can use your own combination of fresh and pickled vegetables.
Chow fries the chicken for three minutes, lets the pieces rest for three minutes, then fries them again for three more minutes. She says this ensures the chicken gets cooked through while remaining juicy.
White soy sauce isn’t actually white; instead, it’s a pale amber, with a lighter, more delicate flavour than regular or light soy sauce. There isn’t a substitute for it, but if you can’t find it at your local Japanese market (where you can also buy bottled yuzu juice), use light soy sauce diluted with some water to taste.
Prepare the vegetables. Finely shred the Chinese cabbage, then cut the takuan and watermelon radish into fine, long shreds. Slice the pickled cucumber. Mix the cabbage with the takuan and watermelon radish.
Make the dressing. Whisk together all the ingredients, then set aside until needed.
Sprinkle salt lightly but evenly over the chicken drumsticks. Put some flour into a wide, shallow dish (such as a cake pan). Whisk the eggs and put them into another wide, shallow dish.
Pour oil to the depth of about 10cm (4in) into a medium-size saucepan and heat to 180°C (350°F).
Dredge the drumsticks in the flour, then dip into the egg to coat the pieces completely. Dip in the flour again and shake off the excess, then fry the pieces for three minutes in the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan; cook the chicken in batches, if necessary. Take the chicken out of the oil and leave at room temperature for three minutes, then put the pieces back in the hot oil and fry for three more minutes. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on paper towels.
Slice the garlic cloves and red onion. Cut the banana chilli into thin slices, removing and discarding the seeds as you go.
Pour about 30ml (2tbsp) cooking oil into a skillet and heat over a medium flame. Add the whole dried chillies, the garlic, onion and banana chillies and cook until soft, stirring often.
Add about 60ml (¼ cup) of the yuzu dressing to the skillet and simmer until slightly reduced to a thin glaze. Add the chicken drumsticks and turn the pieces over so they are lightly coated with the yuzu glaze. If necessary, add more of the yuzu dressing to the skillet. When the chicken pieces are sufficiently coated with the yuzu glaze, turn off the flame.
Scoop the rice into four large individual-serving bowls. Drizzle some of the yuzu dressing over the rice and stir well, so the rice is lightly flavoured but not wet. (Leftover dressing keeps in the fridge for at least a week.)
Place two chicken pieces over each portion of rice. Divide the cabbage/takuan/radish mixture between the bowls, then add the pickled cucumber. Serve immediately.