I don’t think I’ve ever gone to a Chinese restaurant or ordered Chinese take-out without getting chicken fingers. They (along with fried rice) are the standard by which I judge a restaurant’s quality on my first visit. If they’re under- or overcooked, or too greasy, I don’t have high hopes for the rest of my meal. At the risk of sounding cocky, if I hadn’t made these myself, I wouldn’t know they weren’t from one of the good ones.
There are a lot of recipes on the internet for duck sauce, but if you’re from New England, you know there’s only one style that will do. None of the jarred kinds in the International aisle at the grocery store will do, and none of the recipes on the internet are what you’re looking for. This, however, is the closest to the real deal I’ve ever made, or tasted, outside of a Chinese restaurant.
Restaurant-Style Chinese Chicken Fingers with New England Duck Sauce
For the fingers:
- 1/2 cup self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 c water (or a little less as needed)
Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Add water slowly, being careful not to make it too runny. The chicken strips should almost be able to sit on top of the batter without sinking. Heat oil in fryer to 375°F. Slice chicken into thin strips, batter them, and deep fry until golden; make sure to check for doneness.
For the sauce:
- 1 c. applesauce
- 3 tsp each apple cider vinegar
- 3 tsp regular soy sauce
- 2 tsp sugar
In a small bowl, stir together. If possible, allow to rest a few hours or overnight so the flavors can meld better; it’s the closest to the duck sauce you get in Chinese restaurants in New England that I’ve ever had or made, but if you have suggestions on how to perfect it, I’m open to them!