Basically, War Shu Gai is boneless chicken that has been dipped into a light batter and fried. It is served with either white or fried rice, a sauce/gravy for dipping or pouring over the dish, and garnished with almond slices. Since you probably can't get it at your local Chinese restaurant, I'm going to show you how to make it. It's simple, but can be a little time consuming. If you've got a sous chef to help, all the better.
First, you need to get your oil heating. You'll want it at 375 degrees to cook your chicken. Any higher and you will likely burn the outside of the pieces before they are fully cooked on the inside. Any lower and too much oil will be absorbed and you will have greasy chicken. We use a deep fryer, but you can use a pan of oil and a candy thermometer if you don't have one. (Side note: we use our deep fryer outdoors, even in the winter. It doesn't make the house smell greasy and their is much less mess to clean up.)
We're going to use about 2 pounds of boneless chicken. You can pound each piece to a uniform half inch thickness, or you can do what we do and cut the chicken into strips. Either way, prepare your chicken and set it aside.
Now we'll make the batter (scroll down to the bottom for complete ingredient list), starting with the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine the flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the vegetable shortening and cut it into the other ingredients with a fork or pastry blender until coarse crumbs start to form.
For the liquid ingredients, we need 1 cup of cold water and three egg yolks (save the whites, you can use them in your fried rice or make an omelet). I find it easiest to use a measuring cup for this.
Next, beat the eggs and water together with a whisk until they are well blended. Then, add them to the dry ingredients.
Now, if your oil has reached 375 degrees, you can start cooking. Dip a piece of chicken in the batter (make sure it's well coated) and gently place it in the oil.
Continue with several more chicken strips, being sure not to crowd the fryer. Let the pieces cook for 5 to 7 minutes, using a wooden utensil to turn them if necessary.
(When we make this dish, Mr. Willoughby handles the frying while I make the gravy so that they are both done at about the same time. If you are working alone, you can make the gravy while the chicken is keeping warm in the oven. This is also a good time to make your rice or fried rice.)
To make the gravy: Over medium heat, melt three tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan. Add three tablespoons flour and cook for one or two minutes, until the mixture starts to become golden. Add three cups chicken stock and three tablespoons soy sauce. Increase heat to medium high and continue to cook until sauce thickens and begins to simmer. Turn heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
Ready to serve? Place a heaping scoop of rice on plate, place chicken strips on top of rice. Drizzle sauce/gravy on top and garnish with sliced almonds.
|I forgot to add the almonds before I took this picture!|
This batter is also great for fish. You can substitute 1 cup of cold beer in place of the water to make a traditional beer batter.
War Shu Gai
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ice water
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 3 egg yolks
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- Sliced almonds for garnish