Just because you’re sheltering in place doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to the good food.

Ayaka Idate, our dutiful Japanese-language reporter and culinary legend, is no stranger to the kitchen. Though she humbly insists that cooking isn’t her main forte, she has made burger towers and sushi that weighs as much as a newborn baby. In the wake of social distancing policies, what is Ayaka’s newest challenge? Making fried chicken larger than her face.

The recipe that Ayaka chose to use is one for Taiwanese chicken steak, known as da ji pai in Mandarin. This savory snack is a classic staple of the Taiwanese night market scene, and with a crunchy texture and soulful flavor, it’s no surprise that this tantalizing fried chicken awakened Ayaka’s ambitious side. Armed with a membership card, Ayaka began her journey with an essential outing to her local Costco.

▼ Ayaka bought seven slices of chicken, costing her 1,098 yen. (US$10.25) Overall, the total weight of her purchase was 2.4 kilograms (5.3 lbs).

In order to make the chicken slices larger than her face, Ayaka figured that she would have to stretch out every chicken slice. She first tried to put the chicken to the pestle, but the wooden, blunt surface of the pestle did nothing against the flexible surface of the chicken.

Before she could waste any more energy, Ayaka switched over to the back-end of a knife, careful to keep her distance from the blade. It took one hour for Ayaka to elongate the chicken, and she had to give herself a breather as a layer of sweat formed across her shoulders.

Taking a quick break, she rubbed seasoning into the chicken, using a pre-packaged 194 yen (US$1.81) spice mixture from the Japanese import store Kaldi Coffee Farm. The wafting scent of Sichuan pepper rose into the air, and Ayaka’s anticipation for fried chicken steak grew.

After leaving the chicken to marinate for 30 minutes, Ayaka coated each slice in potato starch and threw them into a pan of hot oil. The chicken crackled like the sound of a busy telephone signal, and Ayaka’s excitement peaked. Even though she was exhausted from preparing the chicken, seeing the glossy, light brown form of frying chicken erased her fatigue immediately.

Each piece of chicken steak took about five minutes to fry completely, and after half an hour, Ayaka had an enormous stack of Taiwanese chicken steak heaped on her plate. Measuring the stack’s height and the width of each piece of fried chicken, the metrics came out to 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) and 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) respectively.

However, the most important measurement of them all was… did the size of the chicken steak supersede the diameter of her face?

▼ Success! (The top of one’s bangs don’t count in this measurement.)

Though prepping the chicken was tedious, Ayaka experienced the joys of comparing her iPhone XS, which was also roughly 14 centimeters, to her freshly made Taiwanese chicken steak stack. A deep sense of accomplishment welled within her.

Of course, the only reasonable course of action after snapping a jillion photos was doing a taste-test. Ayaka layered a few slices of chicken steak onto her Rilakkuma bowl, amused by how the bowl acted more like a plate for the chicken steak. Taking the plunge, she was greeted with a satisfying crunch and the aroma of garlic as well as Sichuan pepper. Though the fried chicken was oily, it was a refreshing taste that didn’t cling too long to her tongue, and the saltiness of the chicken steak was just right.

Despite how long the process took, Ayaka was overall pleased with the Taiwanese chicken steak and we wouldn’t be surprised if she made it a habit to re-create this soul-healing snack. However if you’re the type of person who needs some sweets on the side to balance out the savory impact of fried chicken, be sure to check out our easy-to-make rainbow gelatin cake and tiramisu recipes!

Photos © SoraNews24
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