Seven days a week equals seven dinners a household needs to think up, shop for and actually cook, 52 weeks a year. It’s quite a lot. That’s where cook and Masterchef winner Adam Liaw’s latest cookbook, 7 Days of Dinner comes in, with plenty of inspiration for every day of the week. It includes this crisp, tomato-y and – importantly – foolproof chicken dish, a riff on one his grandmother used to cook.

“This is a variation of a recipe my grandmother made for us often when I was a child, usually with pork spare ribs,” writes Liaw. “This version with crispy chicken strips is a favourite of my children now.”

And Liaw has a special tip for getting the chicken extra crispy.

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“Double-frying keeps things crispy. The first fry cooks the meat and releases moisture. But the second fry removes any moisture from the coating for a crisp end result.”

Adam Liaw’s tomato-sauce chicken

Serves 6
Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 15 minutes marinating time
Cooking time: 20 minutes, plus 20 minutes resting time

800g chicken thigh fillets, sliced into 1cm-wide strips across the grain
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 egg white
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
1L (4 cups) vegetable oil for deep-frying, plus 1 tbsp for secondary frying
30g (¼ cup) potato starch or cornflour
3 thick spring onions, julienned, to serve

Tomato sauce
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
120ml (½ cup) tomato sauce
3 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
3 tsp potato starch or cornflour, mixed with 60ml (¼ cup) water

Combine the chicken with the wine, egg white, bicarbonate of soda, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside for about 15 minutes. Heat the deep-frying oil to 180°C in a medium saucepan. Toss the chicken in the potato starch to coat and shake off any excess.

Fry the chicken, in two or three batches, for about 4 minutes per batch until cooked through. You can tell when deep-fried meats are cooked when they start to release their liquid. The oil will sizzle when the chicken is first added, from the moisture on the surface of the chicken, but should then quieten down. When the chicken is cooked through it will start to release its moisture and the oil will start to sizzle again. When you hear that sizzling, remove from the oil and set aside on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

Return the saucepan to the heat and take 1 tbsp of oil to 200°C. Fry the chicken again, in two to three batches, for about 1–2 minutes per batch until crisp and golden.

To make the sauce, heat a wok over a medium heat. Add the oil and fry the garlic for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients, except the cornflour slurry, and bring to a simmer. Add a little of the cornflour slurry, tossing until the sauce thickens. Add the chicken, toss to coat and serve garnished with the spring onion.

This is an edited extract from 7 Days of Dinner by Adam Liaw (Hardie Grant Books, which is available in stores nationally.

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