Prawn Paste Chicken

Prawn Paste Chicken

[Photograph: Yvonne Ruperti]

Notes: The bone-in chicken for this recipe is hacked into pieces to allow for quick frying. To prepare the chicken pieces, first follow the Serious Eats method for breaking down a whole chicken for 8 pieces. Separate wings from legs. Follow instructions in step 1 for the final breakdown. Har cheong is Chinese fermented shrimp paste. It can be found in your local Asian market. I used Lee Kum Kee shrimp paste sauce, which is slightly different than the blocks of belachan, as it's aroma is much more pungent and has the consistency of pudding. Chili sauce can also be purchased in your local Asian market.

About the author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of the new cookbook One Bowl Baking: Simple From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts (Running Press, October 2013), also available at Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Powell's, and The Book Depository. Watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. Follow her Chocoholic, Chicken Dinners, Singapore Stories and Let Them Eat Cake columns on Serious Eats. Follow Yvonne on Twitter as she explores Singapore.

Every recipe we publish is tested, tasted, and Serious Eats-approved by our staff. Never miss a recipe again by following @SeriousRecipes on Twitter!

  • Yield:serves 4
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time:3 hours 45 minutes
  • Rated:


  • 1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
  • 1/4 cup har cheong (see note above)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch (see note above)
  • 2 quarts peanut oil
  • Chili sauce to serve on the side (see note above)


  1. 1.

    Break chicken down into the following portions: each leg cut into 2 pieces, each thigh cut into 3 pieces, wing tip separated from wing drumette, each bone-in breast cut into 4 pieces total (see note above).

  2. 2.

    Whisk har cheong, 1/4 cup water, sugar, and oyster sauce until smooth. Add chicken pieces to bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Cover and chill for 3 hours, stirring occasionally to evenly marinate chicken.

  3. 3.

    Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat to 375°F. Adjust heat to maintain temperature.

  4. 4.

    Working in batches, remove chicken pieces from shrimp paste mixture and pat lightly with paper towels. Dredge well in cornstarch. Cook until chicken is golden and cooked through (160°F for white meat, 165°F for dark), 4 to 6 minutes. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and transfer to paper towel lined plate.

  5. 5.

    Heat oil to 375°F. Working in batches, return chicken to oil and cook until deep golden, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to paper towel lined plate and serve immediately with chili sauce on the side.