Salt & Pepper Chicken is undoubtedly the latest and greatest addition to Chinese takeaway and restaurant menus around the UK. Crispy chicken garnished with finely chopped onion, pepper, garlic and chilli, packed full of flavour thanks to the salty, sweet, savoury seasoning which is added just towards the end of the cooking process.
Today's example of the dish is brought to us by Wok Star, a reasonably new Chinese takeaway located in the south side of Glasgow. This was my first experience with them and of course when ordering for the first time, I had to see their take on this dish. What arrived surprised me slightly but certainly didn't disappoint.
It's worth mentioning that Wok Star, alongside a handful of other Chinese takeaways and restaurants, opt to call this dish 'Salt & Chilli Chicken'. It's ultimately the same thing, the 'pepper' in other named versions referring to the chilli pepper. So salt & pepper chicken, salt & chilli chicken and salt & pepper chilli chicken are one and the same thing. It's also worth pointing out that Wok Star stick to the well established tradition of including side dishes with main course dishes, offering fried rice, chips or chow mein noodles for a small charge. I like this in exact contrast to the dislike I have for takeaways who only sell dishes individually and force you to pay full price for each component you'd like to order.
The Salt & Chilli Chicken arrived (alongside a few other dishes) in good time and was delivered in a plastic takeaway container. I take a ridiculous degree of pleasure in takeaway restaurants who deliver their food in these containers as they can be washed and reused again at home, either in recreating takeaway dishes or in a variety of other ways. Regardless of the dish being cooked, preparation is always the key and it's handy to have a stock of containers which can be used to store chopped ingredients, ready to be added to the frying pan or wok when necessary. Yes, they're cheap and easy to buy but I convince myself that I've had even more value for money when my takeaway arrives in these as opposed to foil trays.
The familiar aroma of salt & pepper chicken filled the room before I'd even opened the container. This was a good start. The first thing to catch my attention after opening the lid was a selection of sliced red onions included in the dish. This was an absolute first for me in that I've never seen red onions used in any Chinese takeaway I've had (and I've had a lot). It certainly worked though and the slightly sweeter taste of the red onions really complimented the already sweet, salty and spicy seasoning.
Speaking of seasoning, they certainly don't hold back at Wok Star. This was a very heavily seasoned dish and, having experienced it again since, it seems that this was no mistake on the chef's part. Heavy on the salt & pepper mix for sure, although to be fair, the vast majority of the flavour in this dish is obtained from the seasoning and so if you're a fan, you're probably looking for exactly that. I don't want to say that the seasoning should be reduced necessarily but it certainly reached a tipping point and I'm grateful that there wasn't any more in there than I was already experiencing.
The chicken itself was generous in number and was clearly not processed. This is always a plus point when ordering the S&P Chicken from any takeaway as it's really difficult if not impossible to use the processed and cooked chicken pieces which often find their way into Chow Mein dishes when creating this dish. The batter was perfect, crispy, crunchy and golden.
I'd put this up there as one of the best versions salt & pepper chicken I've experienced. This could be due to the absolute assault on the senses provided by the vast quantity of seasoning but regardless, I'll certainly be more than happy to order the dish from Wok Star again in future. The red onion certainly makes Wok Star's take on it a little different from any other I've tried and the garlic and chilli was plentiful which, after all, is what makes me love this dish so much.
Wok Star are located at 523 Cathcart Road, Glasgow G42 8SG. You can order online through Just-Eat or contact the restaurant by telephone on 0141 423-6382. They also have a facebook page on which it seems they're only too happy to interact with customers, show sample images of the dishes on their menu and even offer competition prizes and vouchers.
If you'd like to review or recommend your favourite local takeaway, feel free to submit a review.
If you'd like to have a go at making salt & pepper chicken yourself, you can find a recipe in More Takeaway Secrets.