I’ll see your regular salt & pepper chicken nuggets and raise you homemade Lemongrass and Wasabi Asian style Chicken nuggets that taste infinitely better! Easy to make and full of bold flavours. Plus, you can make these ahead and freeze for later use.
Here’s a nugget of truth/observational fact. Homemade chicken nuggets always taste infinitely better than the fast food variety or the ones you find in the frozen section in your grocery store. At least to me they do, and I suspect you would agree with me too. Why? I guess it’s a combination of several things. Maybe it’s the kind of processed meat that they use, the seasoning (or the lack of it), and the method of cooking. Whatever it is, the meat always seems bland to me and taste like cardboard (not that I’ve actually eaten cardboard before, but I imagine that’s what it must taste like if I did) and you need to dunk it in good ol’ ketchup to make it worth your $$.
And here’s another nugget of truth/honesty. I still loved eating the fast food variety as a kid, just like most kids still do. Maybe it’s because I didn’t really get to eat them often back then, though I eventually got sick of it pretty quickly.
So imagine how great your homemade chicken nuggets could taste? Even if you seasoned them with just salt and pepper, they’d still taste better than anything you can get in the store. Now imagine how great these sweet & spicy, Lemongrass and Wasabi Asian style Chicken Nuggets could taste? Marinated in sweet and slightly citrusy lemongrass, coupled with that awesome and unique spicy kick you get from wasabi, these made from scratch chicken nuggets are a great example of how a simple combination of bold flavours can completely elevate a common dish!
But why stop there? I paired these beauties with the best dipping sauce – Vietnamese Nam Jim Dipping sauce that complements all these Asian flavours perfectly! (Recipe coming soon!)
I photographed these ages ago, but never got around to posting the recipe until now. But the good thing about a recipe like this is that it’s not seasonal. No matter what time of year it is, you just can’t go wrong with these sweet and spicy chicken nuggets with a hint of lemongrass and a spicy wasabi kick!
- 21oz / 600g Chicken tenderloins, each cut into 3-4 pieces (each piece about 2 - 2 ½ inches in length)
- 3 tbsp finely chopped/minced lemongrass
- 2 ½ tsp wasabi paste
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp unflavoured oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (less if you like it less spicy)
- Panko crumbs
- 2 extra large eggs
- Oil for deep frying or shallow frying
- Mix all the ingredients of the marinade well, in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and let them marinate for at least two hours or overnight (the longer you marinate, the more flavourful they will be)
- Set up a breading station with the eggs in one bowl (lightly whisked) and the panko crumbs on a plate and a tray lined with parchment paper to keep the breaded nuggets.
- Dip a few of the chicken pieces in the flour mix, then the egg mix to lightly coat them, and then in the panko crumbs to completely cover them with panko crumbs. Place them on the lined tray.
- Repeat with all the chicken pieces. You can freeze the chicken nuggets if you wish at this point (Please see Notes). Or fry immediately, otherwise.
- Heat oil in a saucepan to about 340°F/170°C to deep-fry the chicken nuggets (at that heat, a bread cube will brown in 8-10 seconds). Alternatively, you can shallow fry these as well.
- Fry the chicken nuggets in batches (without overcrowding) for about 5-6 minutes, making sure they cook evenly on all sides, and turn golden brown in colour. If you're shallow frying - flip the chicken nuggets over after 2-3 minutes, to cook the other side (See Notes).
- Remove the cooked chicken nuggets and drain on paper towels for a few minutes. Sprinkle some flaked sea salt on top and serve with some lemon wedges and Nam Jim dipping sauce or sweet chili sauce, while still warm.
- When eating, squeeze a bit of the lemon over the chicken nuggets as it enhances all the flavours.
Notes on deep frying - Test the first batch of chicken nuggets to make sure they have cooked through, and haven't dried out. Adjust the cooking time according to this and the size of the chicken nuggets as well. Larger pieces will take slightly longer than the smaller ones.
Notes on the Chicken meat – I used chicken tenderloins to make these nuggets. Chicken tenderloins have the same texture as chicken breast, but the meat is tender than the breast. In my opinion, chicken breasts are better at soaking up flavours of marinades, but dry out much faster if overcooked even slightly.
Chicken thighs, stay moist longer (even if overcooked slightly), but requires a longer time to marinate.
Chicken tenders on the other hand give me the best of both worlds (stay moist longer than breasts and marinate faster than thighs), although you should still take care not to overcook them.
You’re welcome to use any of these types of chicken meat for this recipe, but remember to leave chicken thighs longer to marinate, and avoid overcooking chicken breasts.
Here’s a nugget of nostalgia. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Mr. K and I used to eat a lot of street food in newspaper cones, which is how street vendors sell their goods most of the time there. And that’s exactly what we did with these beauties. Because of that Asian background, we take street food very seriously (which is almost always insanely delicious), and these were that much more fun to eat out of newspaper cones! 🙂
These were perfectly cooked; tender, moist and full of flavour, with that subtle spicy heat you get from the wasabi. The dipping sauce is insanely good (recipe for that coming soon!), but these nuggets taste fantastic on their own without the sauce too. These are great as a snack, as hors-d’oeuvres or even a complete meal! Which is precisely what we did. We had this for dinner with a light salad on the side, though I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish for some chips or fries. But I decided to be an adult about it and went with the salad. These would also be great with some steamed rice.
And what’s also great about this recipe is that you can store these nuggets away in your freezer for a “rainy day”! And the next time you want them, just pop them out of the freezer and fry till cooked through. Of course this will take longer than frying nuggets that are at room temperature. But they will taste just as delicious in the end!
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