When in Phoenix, you have to eat at one of my favorite local spots: Chino Bandido. It’s a hole in the wall joint that’s been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. They have this unique Chinese-Mexican fusion menu. Very simple food, but incredibly satisfying.
Chino Bandido and I go way back. They’ve been around for over 20 years because I used to go there when I was a kid. Fast forward to now, and I’m still ordering the Jade Red Chicken. I was inspired by all of my positive experiences to create a Chinese chicken that rivals the incredible flavors that I know and love.
Last week in the restaurant, I verified with the chef that the Jade Red sauce does, in fact, contain ketchup, which makes sense when you think about the components of ketchup (sugar, vinegar, concentrated tomato).
To start off on the right foot, I adapted a recipe from Chino Bandido’s Eve Collins: Pollo Diablo (Garlicky, Spicy, Deep-Fried Chicken) — where I really stray from her recipe is with the sauce. I was looking for a Jade Red Sauce that is:
- equal parts sweet and sour
- sticky and gooey with a nice sheen
- a little bit spicy
This Chinese Jade Red Chicken is made with boneless skinless chicken breast and thighs, cut into bite-size pieces, dredged, and then fried until crispy. The Jade Red Sauce is divine but requires some work (well worth it). It is sweet from ketchup and powdered sugar, spicy from garlic and chili pepper, and sour from the vinegar in ketchup. It is both sticky and gooey — perfect over steamed rice!
In case you’re looking for a slightly easier recipe, check out this sweet and sour chicken recipe.
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How to Make the Iconic Chino Bandido Jade Red Chicken:
Here are a few basic things you need to know:
- Use a combination of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts. Cut into bite-size pieces. Hint: variation in size makes it more authentic!
- Whisk up some egg whites. This foamy action gives these that really authentic Chinese texture.
- Dredge in corn starch but really shake off the excess — I love using a spider to do this but you can use your hands too. Bonus: this recipe is gluten free
- Heat oil and test one piece of chicken to make sure it sizzles. Work in batches to fry the chicken pieces until faintly golden. Pull them once crispy (5-7 minutes). The number of batches will depend on the size of your deep fryer or dutch oven. It took me about 5 batches in a large dutch oven over medium heat.
- To make your homemade jade red sauce, warm a skillet or wok. Place the garlic-chili oil into the hot pan with green onion. Next, add the ketchup and powdered sugar. Add water and cook until thick and glossy. Get ready to salivate at the smell.
- Remove fried chicken to drain on paper towel.
- Toss fried chicken with the red sauce to coat. Serve with steamed rice.
Two things about this recipe: spice level and quantity
There’s a fair amount of garlic and chili in this recipe. I think the amount of heat is perfectly balanced and authentically Chinese. That said, you can reduce or increase the fresh green peppers (the Jade component) called for in the recipe to suit your taste buds.
You will be working with approximately 3 pounds of chicken. That’s a fair amount of chicken! It will feed 6 people easily so you might have left-overs, which is kinda the point when something tastes this good. That said, extra portions means more work in terms of working in batches to cook the chicken. An efficient work-around for the sauce situation is to fill a giant bowl with fried chicken and pour the sauce over it in one go. Then you can just eat what you want and save the rest for later:)
Magically sticky and delicious Chinese chicken in 3-2-1, GO!
Chinese Jade Red Chicken
- 3 c cornstarch
- 3/4 c egg whites, from 6 eggs
- 1 pinch garlic salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
- 6 cups corn oil, for frying
Jade Red Sauce
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp yellow onion, minced
- 1 bunch scallions, minced
- 1/2 serrano pepper, minced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 1 pinch garlic salt
- 1/3 c hot chile oil
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup water
To make chicken:
- Place cornstarch on a half sheet baking tray.
- Whisk egg whites until foamy in a large bowl. Add a pinch of garlic salt and black pepper and stir. Add chicken pieces, tossing to coat. Working in batches, dredge chicken in corn starch.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat (350 F degrees). Use a small piece of chicken to test the temperature of the oil.
- Working in batches, shake to remove excess cornstarch from chicken. Cook several pieces at a time until crispy and slightly golden, 5-7 minutes. Place fried chicken on a paper towel lined tray. Repeat.
To make Jade Red Sauce
- In a small bowl, make a garlicky spice-oil (garlic, yellow onion, scallions, serrano, jalapeno, garlic salt, chili oil, and sesame oil).
- Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add all of the spice-oil. Toss and cook for 1 minute until very fragrant.
- Add the ketchup and powdered sugar. Stir to combine, then add the water. Warm the sauce and toss with the fried chicken. *Tip: you could add a little chicken to the pan at a time or place all of the chicken in a large bowl and pour the sauce over, tossing to coat.
This Jade Red Chicken will remind you of eating at Chino Bandido’s. Let me know how it turns out by commenting below. Have a great night, my friends!
More Chicken Recipes
- Grilled Chicken Banh Mi Bowls
- Green Chile Chicken Crock Pot
- Hot and Sour Chicken Soup
- Chicken Fusilli with Creamy Paprika Sauce
and for dessert…Fudgy Brownies with Espresso