Fried Chicken with Imperial Sauce

Fried Chicken with Imperial Sauce

Fried Chicken with Imperial Sauce excerpted from Win Son Presents A Taiwanese American Cookbook by Josh Ku, Trigg Brown, and Cathy Erway. Photography © 2022 Laura Murray.

Win Son Presents A Taiwanese American Cookbook by Josh Ku, Trigg Brown, and Cathy Erway.

Josh Ku, born in Queens to parents from southern Taiwan, and Trigg Brown, a native Virginian whose mentor was a Taiwanese-American chef, forged a friendship over food—specifically, excellent tsang ying tou, or “flies’ head,” a dish of chopped budding chives kissed with pork fat. Their obsession with Taiwanese food and culture propelled them to open Win Son together in 2016. The East Williamsburg restaurant quickly established itself as a destination and often incurs long waits for its vibrant and flavourful Taiwanese-American cuisine.

Ku and Brown have teamed up with Cathy Erway, Taiwanese food expert and celebrated writer, to create this book which explores and celebrates the cuisine of Taiwan and its ever-simmering pot of creative influences. Told through the eyes, taste buds, travels, and busy lives of Ku, Brown, and Erway, this book brings the cuisine of this misunderstood island nation into the spotlight. With 100 creative, yet accessible recipes, this book will unravel the history of this diaspora cuisine. While featuring classic dishes and well-known favourites, this cookbook also stretches this cuisine’s definition, introducing new dishes with brazen twists that are fun, flavourful, and decidedly American-born in style. 

Win Son Presents A Taiwanese American Cookbook is available at, and   

Fried Chicken with Imperial Sauce

Serves 6 to 8

IF YOU LOVE CHICKEN WINGS, ESPECIALLY SAUCY ONES, THEN THIS RECIPE IS FOR YOU. We like the five-spice marinade commonly used in Taiwanese fried chicken, but our marinade has a little bit of everything: buttermilk, cayenne, five-spice powder, dried ginger and garlic, mustard, even some curry powder. As for the chicken, at Win Son and Win Son Bakery, we get whole chickens and use the breasts for the Big Chicken Bun (page 155) and all the wings, legs, and thighs for our Big Chicken Box, which is the origin of this recipe, fried chicken tossed with a salty-sweet glaze that we call Imperial Sauce, plus fries, as shown here. Getting whole birds, which is cheaper, means that we can ensure that they’re good, air-chilled chickens like Canadian Giannone, or Amish chickens from Pennsylvania, which are delicious. You also get the chicken backs out of the whole bird, which is great for making stock—like the Superior Broth (page 261). But of course, if you don’t want to break down a chicken, or you prefer certain parts over others, you can make this recipe with parts—like all wings for a bowl of party snacks. And as an alternative to tossing this fried chicken with Imperial Sauce at the end, you could just season it once it comes out of the oil with a combination of Chinese five-spice powder, cayenne, salt, sugar, and Korean chile flakes for a version that won’t get your hands too sticky with sauce (as fun as that is).


2 pounds (910 g) of chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings, and/or breasts


1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk

½ cup (120 ml) Frank’s RedHot sauce

1 tablespoon powdered ginger 1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon curry powder

2 teaspoons Chinese hot mustard powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil, such as soybean

1-inch (2.5-cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

1 bunch of scallions, roughly chopped


½ cup (65 g) cornstarch

½ cup (65 g) all-purpose flour

1 cup (130 g) coarse sweet potato starch

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon MSG


2 quarts (2 L) neutral oil for frying, such as soybean


½ cup (120 ml) kecap manis

½ cup (120 ml) oyster sauce

2 tablespoons House Chili Oil 

(page 258) or your favourite chili oil, such as Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil


1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

4 chopped scallions, for garnish (optional)

MARINATE THE CHICKEN: Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a blender and puree. In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the marinade and toss to coat evenly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

DREDGE THE CHICKEN: In a large shallow bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dredge. One by one, coat each piece of chicken thoroughly. 

FRY THE CHICKEN: Meanwhile, in a heavy pot or Dutch oven, or a deep-fryer if available, heat the oil to 350°F (175°C), when measured with a candy thermometer. If doing this on a stovetop, make sure you’re frying in a large wide pot filled only halfway with oil (5 inches/12 cm oil is ideal), or else it could bubble over and not only cause a big mess, but burn you. You may also need to work

in batches to allow enough room for each piece of chicken to fry without sticking to one another. Set a wire rack over a sheet pan on the side for landing.

Lay each piece of battered chicken into the oil for 13 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them once halfway through. Transfer to the wire rack to drain.

MAKE THE SAUCE: In a large shallow bowl, combine the kecap manis, oyster sauce, chili oil, mirin, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil. Toss the chicken pieces in the sauce to coat thoroughly.

TO SERVE: Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and scallions, if using, and serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Abrams Books.

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