Blogger for Fix Feast Flair, writer, photographer, and cookbook author Alana Kysar, was born and raised in Maui, Hawai‘i. In honor of Mother’s Day, she shares with us one of her favorite family recipes, passed on to her by her mother. Read on to learn more about Alana’s childhood food memories and to get her mother’s mochiko chicken recipe.
For me, the food memories of my childhood are the most vivid. Sure, a poke bowl or giant cone of powdery fine, rainbow-colored shave ice will always make evoke strong memories, but the most special is my mom’s mochiko chicken. The smell alone transports me to my childhood home in Kula, Maui, where I’d hang out drinking a can of passion orange guava juice after soccer practice, impatiently waiting for the frying to commence.
What is this magical mochiko chicken I speak of? It’s a local Hawai’i version of fried chicken. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, when done right, it’s packed with salty-sweet flavor on the interior and a crispy-crunchy exterior made of rice-flavor batter. And truth be told, at least in my humble opinion, my mom makes the best mochiko chicken in Hawai‘i. Mind you, my mom is an all-around great cook, in general.
While it’s best served warm with o-nigiri aka triangle-shaped o-musubi, namasu, and takuan, the way my mom serves it, it’s equally great cold, chopped up, and tossed into a green salad with a creamy Asian dressing or atop a bed of cold somen noodles.
Alana’s Mom’s Mochiko Chicken
Serves: 4 to 6
- 2 pounds boneless-skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup mochiko flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup (around 4 stalks) green onion, both white and green parts, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, extra finely grated
- Neutral high-heat oil (like Canola), for frying
- Green onions, chopped, for garnish
- Cut chicken thighs into 2-inch strips and place in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine the mochiko, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, salt, eggs, and green onions and whisk until fully combined.
- Pour the batter mixture over the chicken and mix to coat evenly.
- Marinate in refrigerator for at least 5 hours, but preferably overnight.
- Fill a Dutch oven or high-sided pot with the oil until it’s around 1 to 1 1/2-inches high, and heat to 330 – 340°F on medium-low heat.
- Place wire cooling rack over the second baking sheet lined with paper towels or newspaper. Without crowding the pan, add as many pieces of chicken as you can. The temperature will drop to about 315 to 325°F when you add the chicken.
- Fry the chicken for 6 to 7 minutes, turning with a skimmer or long chopsticks, to brown evenly. The chicken will be golden brown when it’s done.
- Remove with a skimmer or long chopsticks and let rest for 8 to 10 minutes. Continue this process until all the chicken has been cooked.
- When ready to serve, garnish with freshly chopped green onions.