It’s funny how smells and memories work. There are so many stinky things in the world that I associate with deliciousness – durian, fish sauce, sauerkraut, blue cheese…all these smells make my mouth water and my tummy rumble, even though there are some who would turn their nose up in disgust. I guess it comes from growing up in Singapore. Once you start associating stinky with delicious at a very young age, you start getting very excited to try the weird and wonderful. And hey, if nothing else, it’s a great ice breaker at a party.

Fermented shrimp paste is one such favourite that really baffles my friends. This stuff hits your nostrils the moment the seal on the jar is open, and has a somewhat sour/salty aroma that is quite similar to fish sauce. But add that to chicken and the deep fryer? And you’ve got prawn paste chicken (had jeong gai), a local favourite that graces almost every special occasion, family gathering, and children’s birthday party.

Trust me, this stuff is freaking delicious.

What was previously a “outside food” to be bought, has now become a party favourite in my house, through the genius of my cool aunt, who got it from a friend, who got it from…oh who cares? IT’S AMAZING FRIED CHICKEN. Just, you know, make sure your home is well ventilated, and there’s no wet laundry hanging around.

If you’re still apprehensive about the fermented shrimp paste, it’s okay too. You can use the same method with miso loosened with a little water or stock, fermented bean curd mashed with some of its juices…whatever is salty enough to effectively quick-brine the wings for a delicious finish!

Three Ingredient Prawn Paste Chicken (Har Jeong Gai) Recipe

Tammi Kwok
This is a Singapore family favourite, constantly available at parties, gatherings, or when there are kids involved - because what kid doesn't like fried chicken? This uses fermented shrimp paste to create a delicious savoury marinade AND coating - a great three ingredient backup!


  • 1 kg mid joint chicken wings
  • 100 g fermented shrimp paste*
  • 4-6 tbsp of corn starch
  • Oil for deep frying


  • Toss the chicken wings into the shrimp paste and leave for 1.5 hrs to marinate.
  • Add corn starch to coat. I start with 4 tbsp and see whether I need more. I stop when I can start drawing clear lines in the coating with my fingers. Feel free to add more if you like a thicker crust, but the more the shrimp paste sticks to the chicken, and the saltier this gets.
  • Deep fry till golden brown and delicious! If you need to deep fry in batches, these also keep warm in the oven. Just place on a rack in a single layer, in a 140C oven.


*I use Lee Kum Kee fermented shrimp paste because it's what I grew up with, and it's what I know works. Feel free to try your favourite ones! Available at most Asian grocers.

Oh, and if you’re using something else to flavour the chicken, just remember: it’s very important that your “salty thing” is creamy enough on its own. Fish sauce won’t be a good idea by itself because by the time you have enough cornstarch to make a crust, it’s going to be so salty it’ll turn your face inside out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Do you have a favourite stinky food that your friends don’t understand? I’d love to hear all about it! Let me know in the comments below! =)


  1. Danielle L May 7, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I would feel very exotic cooking with shrimp paste, but I’m not sure my boys would be into such a strong smell and I already have miso paste, so I may have to go with your alternative suggestion instead 🙂

    1. tammi - Site Author May 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      Hi Danielle! Do let me know how it goes! Miso isn’t quite as salty for me, so I’m always missing that kick!

    1. tammi - Site Author May 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      Love that stink. LOVE IT!

  2. Nora @ Savory Nothings May 8, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Haha yes, a few years back somebody held fermented shrimp paste under my nose and I almost collapsed, but it tasted so good in the food in the end! Love this recipe!

    1. tammi - Site Author May 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

      It’s an acquired taste for sure. I think sometimes it’s about tasting the end product before smelling the shrimp paste. Haha!

  3. Lauren @ Create Bake Make May 8, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Ooh this would be the perfect recipe to make once the boys are tucked up safely in bed so I can sit down, watch a movie and enjoy this all on my own… Yum! Thanks for linking up with us for Fabulous Foodie Fridays 🙂

    1. tammi - Site Author May 9, 2015 at 10:15 pm

      I do the same thing! Chicken wings > popcorn any day.

  4. Dannielle @ Zamamabakes May 8, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Tammi these look and sound delicious, and how lovely your aunt shared it on with the family.
    Thanks for linking up such great deliciousness with our Fabulous Foodie Friday’s Party.
    Have a gorgeous weekend xx

    1. tammi - Site Author May 9, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Thank you Dannielle! My aunt is an absolute kitchen master. =) Thanks for stopping by!

    1. tammi - Site Author May 9, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Thank you for the compliment Lucy!! It’s very hard to go wrong with chicken wings, haha.

  5. Amberjane May 18, 2015 at 4:56 am

    Oh my this look so tasty – Thanks for linking up to Pin Worthy Wednesday, I have pinned your post to the Pin Worthy Wednesday Pinterest Board


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