Today I want to introduce to you Marmite chicken (妈蜜鸡), an Asian twist of the yeast extract Marmite made in the UK.
There is a thin line between love and hate when we talk about Marmite. People like its intense flavor, but others find it too concentrated.
Although Marmite is traditionally used as a spread for bread and toast, the Chinese think that the flavor is too strong to consume undiluted. As a result, they incorporate Marmite as a part component of the thick sauce and to coat on fried chicken serve along with steamed rice. That is how Marmite chicken was invented.
What is Marmite, and how is it made?
Marmite is a dark, thick yeast extract with high umami as the by-product of brewing beer.
It was conceived in the 1900s in Burton, a town in Staffordshire, England. Marmite’s distinctive flavor has caused a great divide among the consumer, either they become a liker or hater. It is hard to describe how it tastes. The closest I can relate to is salty beer!
This stinky yeast paste was subsequently added to soldiers’ rations during World War One, due to the high concentration of Vitamin B.
Subsequently, Marmite was exported to Australia and New Zealand. A similar product was made in Melbourne called Vegemite in response to the disruption of the import of Marmite due to the war.
The differences between Marmite and Vegemite
Both Marmite and Vegemite are interchangeable in culinary. Vegemite has a thicker consistency and a darker color. Marmite has a milder flavor with a tinge of sweetness as compared to the Australian version.
Whether you are a hater of a cult follower of Marmite, you should at least try the Marmite chicken once! I grew up eating Marmite on toast, diluting Marmite with water as soup and now cooking chicken with Marmite, I vouch the taste is so superb that you will not regret trying it.
How to cook Marmite chicken Chinese style
This Malaysian Marmite chicken recipe 妈蜜鸡 is popular among the Chinese restaurant and the roadside stir-fry joints (大炒档) in Malaysia. The chicken is served on a bed of lettuce, with some cucumber and tomato slices at the side.
Note: This Marmite chicken recipe is also referred to as Vegemite marinated chicken in some recipes.
This recipe is based on the general method of preparing Marmite chicken at the local stores.
1. Marinate the chicken
First, marinate the chicken with light soy sauce, cooking oil, white pepper, rice wine, and some cornstarch. Light soy sauce adds flavor to the chicken, which also takes the place of salt in the marinade. Cooking oil moistens the meat, which is especially useful for the less juicy breast meat. White pepper is the standard seasoning in Chinese cooking. Rice wine contributes to flavor and tenderizes the meat. Lastly, cornstarch binds the liquid components with the chicken.
I am using chicken thigh meat, debone, and skin off in this formula. However, chicken thigh and breast are the most popular parts, but it is nice to use chicken wings for its texture and presentation.
After mixing the marinade with the chicken, I keep it in the refrigerator for half an hour to let the flavor penetrate the meat before deep-frying.
If you choose to leave the bone in, you have to marinate it for a long er period.
The flavor of Marmite has a reputation of being unusual that garners massive followers. The company that makes Marmite reckons that it is an acquired taste. In the UK, they even produce a ‘mind control’ video to promote the Marmite to the hater that “If you’re a Marmite Hater, you’ve just taken the first step on the journey towards becoming a Marmite Lover.”
2. Deep-frying the chicken
We use an electric deep fryer in the restaurant. It does not only have larger capacity but, more importantly, equipped with a frying basket to hold the chicken so that it will not sink to the bottom, which results in uneven cooking.
However, even the smallest electric deep fryer still requires two liters of oil, which is too much for an average home kitchen. Therefore, I decided to deep-fry the chicken in a frying pan, which reduce the amount of oil required significantly. Since the chicken pieces are only half-submerged in the oil and not suspended in the deep fryer basket, I need to flip the chicken every few minutes to let all the chicken pieces are cooked evenly.
The chicken pieces should be coated with egg white, and subsequently with cornstarch right before dropping into the pan.
The egg white forms a protective layer on the chicken, effectively preventing too much oil from penetrating the meat. The cornstarch creates a crispy exterior and protects the meat from losing its juiciness due to direct heat from the oil. I also mix a small amount of baking soda with the cornstarch to make sure it becomes crispy and crunchy.
Here are the steps :
- Heat some cooking oil in a pan, about 1.5 cm (3/4 inch) deep.
- Combine 50g (about five tablespoons) of cornstarch with a half teaspoon of baking soda.
- Crack an egg. Separate the egg white and yolk.
- Combine the egg white with the marinated chicken.
- Dip the chicken pieces into the cornstarch, and let the cornstarch coat the chicken entirely. Shake off the extra and drop them immediately into the oil.
- Deep-fried the chicken pieces in the oil over medium heat. Flip the chicken occasionally to ensure even browning. The time required to turn golden brown for boneless chicken is about eight to ten minutes. You need to increase the timing for bone-in chicken chunks, and with more oil.
- Remove the chicken and drain on a paper towel.
3. Constitute the Marmite gravy
The Marmite gravy consists of Marmite, light soy sauce, honey, maltose, sesame oil, and hot water.
Since Marmite is quite salty, there is no need to add salt except a small amount of light soy sauce for flavor. Marmite is also slightly bitter, and therefore honey and maltose are included. (That is why some people refer it as honey Marmite chicken.)
You can double the amount of honey should you want to simplify it by omitting the maltose. However, since maltose preferred as it is sticky, which helps to form a thick gravy that clings on to the chicken pieces.
It is easier to combine these sticky ingredients with the addition of hot water. Alternatively, pop it into the microwave oven will dissolve the honey and maltose easily.
Note: If you like this Malaysian Marmite chicken, you likely also like other similar recipes on this blog:
– Lemon chicken
– General Tso’s chicken
– Taiwanese chicken steak
Check it out!
4. Coat the chicken with the Marmite gravy
Finally, coat the deep-fried chicken with thick gravy and is really to serve.
If you wet the chicken too much with the gravy, it will lose its crispiness. However, you can still keep it reasonably crispy by not drenching the chicken into a pool of diluted sauce. That’s why we only need a few tablespoons of water to ensure you get the crispy Marmite chicken. We are not looking for a diluted sauce. We want the cook the best Marmite chicken that is crispy.
Here are the steps:
- Bring the Marmite gravy to boil over low heat. Then reduce the quantity a little bit until it starts to thicken.
- Combine the gravy with the chicken. It is not necessary to coat the chicken thoroughly because it will cause the chicken chucks to turn soggy.
Marmite chicken is popular street food in Malaysia. The Chinese feel that the flavor is too piquant to consume undiluted and note that it is acceptable if it is incorporated as a component of the thick sauce coating on the deep-fried chicken.
- 350g (12 oz) boneless chicken thigh, cut into cubes
- 60g (2 oz) cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg white
- some cooking oil, for deep frying
Ingredients B (For the Chicken Marinade):
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 2 tsps cornstarch
- 1 tbsp rice wine (optional)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
Ingredient C (For the Marmite Sauce):
- 2 tsp (10g) Marmite
- 2 tsp light soya sauce
- 1.5 tbsp honey
- 1.5 tbsp maltose
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 45ml (3 tbsp) water
Ingredients D (For garnishing):
- Cut chili
- Tomato and cucumber slices
- Marinate the chicken pieces with ingredients B for thirty minutes.
- Combine the cornstarch and baking soda.
- Coat the marinated chicken with egg white, the with cornstarch/baking soda.
- Deep-fried the chicken until golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
- Heat all the ingredients C in a pan until it becomes a thick gravy.
- Coat the chicken with the gravy.
- Garnish and serve.
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MICHELANGELO Nonstick Frying Pan Stone with Ultra Nonstick Granite Coating, 10 Inch Frying Pan with Lid, Nonstick Skillet Pfoa Free, Non toxic Rock Pan, Induction Compatible -10 inch
Secura Stainless Steel Deep Fryer with Basket, 3.2 Quart
Nature Nate’s 100% Pure Raw & Unfiltered Organic Honey, 32 oz
Maltose 純正麥芽糖 500g x 4 Jars
Serving Size:2 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 682Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 134mgSodium: 1500mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 20gProtein: 37g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 10/24/2019
Wednesday 23rd of June 2021
Britain and Australia heh? I would venture so far as to say that South Africa is the ultimate consumer of Marmite!
Friday 24th of April 2020
Hi KP Kwan, i love your recipes especially those fried chicken recipes because it has crisp outer layer & juicy inside. My family loving it so much.
i have query here. What if i put more marmite (not as per your recommended). Does it affect the overall sauce taste? Also, to have more sweetened sauce, does it means i need to reduce the marmite?
Saturday 25th of April 2020
Hi Lucinda, You can explore by changing the ratio of each ingredient. Marmite has a bitter taste if it is added to much. If you intend to use more marmite, I suggest you can add a bit more sugar into the recipe to balance the flavor. KP Kwan
Friday 10th of April 2020
Hi there, it is possible to cook this dish without the maltose?
Friday 10th of April 2020
Hi Poppy, You can substitute maltose with honey. Thanks, KP Kwan
Friday 25th of October 2019
Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.