Cereal Butter Fried Chicken (Mai Pian Ji) – Crispy fried chicken is tossed in buttery, spicy (or not) and aromatic cereal mix. A combination that is addictingly good.
The inspiration for this cereal butter fried chicken came from the original cereal butter prawn (mai pian xia), which I absolutely fell in love with when I had it in Singapore and Malaysia. Sooo freaking good is perhaps an understatement.
You can read more in detail about why it is called cereal butter prawn and why it is so good in that post.
These beautiful curry leaves were sent to me all the way from Texas by one of my readers (I’m crazy lucky I know!). They were homegrown and organic too! Curry leaves are essentials in preparing this cereal butter fried chicken and the prawn version too. If you don’t have any, you can omit it though or use other herb like basil, but it’s totally not an equivalent substitution.
BONE-IN CHICKEN OR BONELESS CHICKEN
You can use either bone-in or boneless chicken. If you choose to use bone-in, I suggest cut them in smaller pieces, or use chicken wings. For boneless chicken, I suggest chicken thighs (as always), but that’s just me, you can use chicken breast if you prefer
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY FRIED CHICKEN FOR CEREAL BUTTER FRIED CHICKEN
There’s no secret by now that the secret to crispy fried chicken is frying the chicken twice. Here’s how:
1. Marinade chicken for 30 minutes
2. Use cornstarch
Cornstarch gives a crispier texture to the chicken and the chicken stays moist. Dredge the chicken pieces in cornstarch and shake off any excess
3. Double frying the chicken
I learned this from Martha Stewart’s long time ago. First frying helps to cook the chicken, but the chicken won’t really get crispy by first frying. Second frying is to help “dry out” the moisture from the chicken and this second frying is usually done in higher temperature
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE NESTUM CEREAL TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
Nestum cereal is not common here in the U.S. I couldn’t find it in Asian grocery store too. I had them because mom bought some for me and my father-in-law brought them over when he visited. You can use raw oats as a substitute. It works great too. I’ve tried it. It took a bit longer to get the oats to be crispy, but it works.
HOW TO PREPARE BUTTER CEREAL MIXTURE
1. Make the cereal mixture
Mix Nestum cereal (or oats) with sugar and milk powder
2. Melt butter
3. Stir fry the curry leaves until crispy. Add chili if using
4. Add the cereal mixture and continue to stir fry and take care not to burn it because there’s sugar in the mixture
5. Toss the chicken into the mixture and stir to mix everything
This cereal butter fried chicken and the prawn version go fast in our house. I usually omit the chili so my kids can enjoy the cereal mixture, which is their favorites.
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I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
Marinade for chicken:
- 1 Tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
Marinade the chicken:
- Place chicken pieces in a large bowl. Add marinade ingredients and let them marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature
- When ready to fry the chicken, preheat some oil for deep-frying in a deep pot, about 2-inches of oil. Coat each piece of chicken with cornstarch and shake off any excess flour
Frying the chicken:
- Fry the chicken until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove from the oil to absorbent paper towel. Remove any frying bits from the oil and bring the oil back to high heat again
- Fry the chicken for the second time until the chicken pieces are crispy and has deeper brown, but not burnt. Remove to absorbent paper towel
Prepare the cereal mixture:
- In a bowl, combine the Nestum cereal, sugar and milk powder. Whisk to mix everything. In another skillet, melt the butter. Add the chili and curry leaves and stir-fry until fragrant. The curry leaves will crisp up too. Add Nestum cereal mixture and continue to stir-fry for about 1 minute. Take care not to burn it as there's sugar
- Add the fried chicken pieces to the mixture and stir everything to combine. Have a taste of the cereal mixture and adjust by adding more salt and/or sugar to your liking. It should be salty, buttery and slightly sweet
- Dish out to serving platter and serve immediately with rice as part of multi-course meal