Golden delicious and oh so sticky, I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, “Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sticky Fingers.”
I’m going to preface this by declaring my love for appetizers. I love appetizers. Just the name itself implies that what is coming to your plate is something appetizing for your appetite. The concept is that it is food that you get before your food, which is so brilliant that the person behind this idea should get the Nobel Peace Prize. It is my belief that many a crisis has been averted with the well-timed arrival of an appetizer. “How is that so?” you may ask. Well, it is because hungry people, awaiting their food, are susceptible to hunger crankiness.
We’ve all experienced hunger crankiness, and the devastation it can cause. (Those of us who have been pregnant understand this on a depth that the rest of the world can not comprehend.) Temper tantrums, confusion, suddenly bursting into tears, these are only some of the horrors caused by waiting too long for food. Appetizers have saved us from all of that. Honorable mention to whoever came up with the bread basket, also a great concept. But bread just fills you up and then you have no space for your entree, so the award still goes to the appetizer person. Whoever you are, we thank you.
Hmm, let me google this very quickly to make sure that I’m not thanking some crazy person. So apparently, we owe this concept to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Makes sense, we Americans stole pretty much every idea they ever came up with. Props to the Greeks and Romans.
Coming back to the specific topic at hand, (or, in the case of this recipe, at finger) I first sampled this particularly tasty appetizer at Street 1 Cafe. It was the end of a rough week, I wanted to eat something good, and I didn’t want to have to cook it myself, so my husband and I went out for lunch. We decided to make it a family affair and brought the kids and my mother along.
My older son is a very sweet child, with a wisdom beyond his years, a bit of an old soul, if you will. My younger son…likes to make it clear that he is not his brother and has all of the maturity that you can expect of a three year old. In the hour or so that we spent at the cafe, my younger son had managed to throw at least one piece of silverware on the ground, knock over a glass of water and lose his napkin, all before the waiter had taken our order. Thank God for the appetizers. My children then happily busied themselves with their fish and chips and the adults at the table could breathe a sigh of relief. That was when I was introduced to these lovely fellas.
Sweet and spicy chicken sticky fingers are basically breaded chicken fingers that are deep fried, then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce (the sugar in the sauce makes them sticky). They are often served with a ranch dipping sauce. I really loved their taste and I was sure I could figure out how to make them. I made my first test batch with chicken breasts that I pounded thin and cut into strips. I asked my mom to do a taste test and tell me how I measured up to the original. She’s the expert chef in the family, and I knew she would give it to me straight.
“Well, you nailed the sauce, but you’ve got to switch to minced chicken, these strips are too hard.”
I wasn’t sure if I could get the mince to hold up through the dredging process, but my mother assured me that adding bread to the mince would firm it up. The second time I made them, I asked my mother to show me how it’s done. Lo and behold, the fingers kept their shape perfectly and were closer in texture to the originals
A few changes that I made to the Street 1 version are that I used Panko bread crumbs for more crunch and added oregano (you know me) to the coating. I opted to bake these instead of deep frying them so that they would be a bit lighter. I also switched out the dipping sauce: I didn’t care much for the ranch so I made a garlic mayo sauce which tastes REALLY awesome with these sweet and spicy chicken sticky fingers. In my humble opinion, these are just like the Street 1 version only MUCH much better, like a “Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sticky Fingers 3.0” version.
This post is dedicated to my mother. From her, I inherited my love of cooking and my obsession for tweaking recipes. She was the one to encourage me while I was learning, the voice pushing me to try again when I messed up. She is my cheerleader, my number one fan, my mirror showing me the best version of myself. I hope that I can be as good a mother to my children as she has been to me. I could never repay her, I only pray that I can do as Allah bids us in the Quran:
And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.
And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”
[The Holy Quran 17:23-24]
Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sticky Fingers: Make a Meal of it
These sweet and spicy chicken sticky fingers pair wonderfully with my Spicy Pizza with Chicken Fajita Topping. Awesome for a casual dinner with friends and family. If you’re serving this at tea time and want something quick and light to make while these are baking, try my chilli cheese toast with garlic and olives – it’s got pizza-esque vibes. (Is pizza-esque even a word? It should be.)
Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sticky Fingers
These Sweet and Spicy Chicken Sticky Fingers are a tastier version of Street 1 Cafe’s Sticky Fingers. Crispy baked chicken fingers tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce, served with garlic mayo dip. The perfect appetizer for your meal, or a tea time treat!
Sweet and Spicy Sauce
- ⅓ cup chilli garlic sauce (preferably Mitchell’s)
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar (preferably, MotherChoice)
- 2 tbsp water
- 500 g chicken ground
- 2 slices bread
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1/3 cup flour (for dredging)
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tsp oregano (plus more for garnish)
- 3 tbsp oil (for drizzling)
Garlic Mayo Dip
- ¼ cup mayonaisse
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice (or vinegar)
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
Sweet and Spicy Sauce
Combine chilli garlic sauce, brown sugar and water in a small saucepan over low-medium heat.
While stirring continuously, bring to a boil.
Lower flame and simmer until sugar dissolves completely.
Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 215°C or 425°F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.
Put flour in one shallow dish, beaten egg in a second dish and mix oregano with panko bread crumbs in a third dish.
Drain ground chicken of excess water.
In a bowl, mix together the ground chicken, garlic, black pepper and salt.
Thoroughly wet two slices of bread, squeeze to remove excess water, and add to the chicken. Mix together to create a homogenous mixture.
Roll chicken mixture into finger shapes.
Dredge fingers in flour, then dip in egg, then coat with bread crumbs.
Place coated fingers on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil.
Bake at 215°C or 425°F for 15 minutes.
If fingers aren’t golden brown on top, place under grill/broiler for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Toss fingers in Sweet and Spicy sauce.
Garlic Mayo Dip
Whip together mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic and garlic powder until well combined.
Garlic Mayo Dip tastes best if prepared a few hours in advance. If you don’t have time, don’t worry, it’s still very nice when freshly made.
I prefer Mitchell’s Chilli Garlic Sauce, it’s spicier than the other brands out there, which tend to be more on the sweeter side. If you use any other brand, you may need to compensate by adding hot sauce or decreasing the brown sugar in the recipe.
If you’re in Pakistan, use MotherChoice brown sugar, it’s the most reliable.
If you’re short for time, you can just make the Sweet and Spicy Sauce and use a package of pre-made frozen chicken fillet/tenders/nuggets/wings. Simply cook the chicken as directed on the package and toss them in the sauce.
You CAN deep fry these if you want to. In that case you would fry until golden brown.
Who gives you cooking advice? Have you ever hacked a restaurant recipe before?