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What's underneath the coating of my take-out Chinese chicken? Do I want to know???

Every weekend I shop at my favourite Asian supermarket... In addition to their amazing grocery and meat selection and prices, they have the best prepared foods counter.

I've always been a sucker for coated, fried and saucy chicken dishes (lemon chicken, General Tso, honey chicken, spicy chicken), and leave every week with one of their "specials" in hand.

The problem is, as tasty as they are, more often than not, the pieces look undiscernable... Rather than being plump, uniform chicken breast chunks, many are long, twisty and grisly-looking bits, some could pass for ears! I try not to look at what's inside after I bite into it.

I know that preparing my own is the best option, but I'm kinda busy... Are there any poster's who can assure (or warn) me just what kind of chicken I'm eating... When you can't see what's inside, how do you know... what's inside???

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  1. You are not likely getting breast meat in those items. First reason is that North American tastes typically prefer breast meat to dark meat cuts. The suppliers can get a premium for those cuts as a boneless, skinless item or as the base for chicken sandwiches. The second reason is that the random bits of the chicken after the main cuts are taken are cheaper to buy and more likely to end up in battered dishes where they are less identifiable. The third reason is that Asians tend to prefer the dark meat of the chicken over the white.

      1. re: linguafood

        only the asian cooks know what they put in their food! i understand if your too busy to cook at home, but , eating something you arn't sure of whats in it? that's too risky for me. If your gonna get take out allot stick with safe foods, there;s enough around.. Foreighners, eat things we don't even sell here in the US. So, they add things we've never had...

        1. re: crispys

          You do realize that "foreign" purveyors of food in the US are still subject to the same health and sanitation laws as every American-born purveyor of food, right? And more importantly, the same distribution and transportation chains....

          And if they eat it and don't get sick, chances are you won't either, regardless of where the owner was born.

          Chopping up a chicken carcass with a big cleaver (and at the impressive speeds I see at my Asian market) just doesn't give you nice, uniform little square chunks of meat -- they're kind of raggy-looking, but they're still chicken.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Don't beat me up now, cuz i said foreigners. What I mean IS different cultures! WE { US } don't grow all the same as other countries. Many other nationalities use foods we've never even heard of. OH by the way, health and sanitation laws may be the same which i don't think is all true, but individual restaurants often do their own thing!

            1. re: crispys

              No difference.
              Same health regulations.
              Same distribution and transportation network.

              You are no more likely to get something grody from a restaurant owned by a foreigner than from a restaurant owned by a native-born American.

              1. re: crispys

                You are new here and I like and understand your posts. So please comeback.

              1. re: ChristinaMason

                don't bet. hot dogs are made of inards.. i may have spelled that wrong. but point being, sausages, hot dogs and those types of meats are made from ,,well nothing i want to chow down on,,,,

          2. You're probably getting chopped up pieces of thigh and leg. Because of the musculature, the pieces can end up appearing random and odd-shaped. I personally do not want "plump, uniform chicken breast chunks" but the odd juicy bits of dark meat.

            1. A restaurant I go to cuts boneless thighs into long gnarly strips and skewers them. Would like to see exactly how they get that long of a piece of meat out of a chicken thigh.

              I frequently eat stuff at Asian restaurants that I have no clue what it is. Korean banchan is really some mysterious stuff to me. Never got anything yet I couldn't swallow. : )

              1. You are 100% guaranteed not getting chicken breast in your Chinese take out. It's probably thigh meat coated in super thick breading that causes the weird shapes (thicker breading = high profit margins, not that they are very high to begin with). Just don't look at it, chew, swallow and enjoy.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  Now I'm craving Chinese! lol!

                  Bring me a thigh or leg over a breast any day of the week. They know what they are doing over there!

                  1. re: Crockett67

                    I agree. Sad thing is that a lot of Chinese joints (at least here in Central NJ) are now hanging signs that say "we only use white meat chicken". And the food always really suffers as a result.

                2. I'm sure it's chicken. Coming from a store or supermarket that sells raw chicken meat, I would not be surprised if they typically use product that is nearer the expiry (best before) dates. Depending on what comes available, you could get any kind of cut....white or dark meat.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: T Long

                    I supremely doubt that. Prepared food counters in supermarkets are getting their meat, produce, noodles - all ingredients - most likely from wholesale restaurant suppliers. They're not using the food from their own coffers.

                    The chicken you get at an Asian restaurant or prepared food counter will be dark meat 9 times out of 10 unless the menu states specifically that it's white meat. Which is great, because the dark meat is far moister & tastier than the white in fried preparations.

                    1. re: Bacardi1

                      The asian (Chinese) store that I frequent is a supplier to local restaurants and cafes....I see the staff lining up at the registers with cartloads of supplies, so your theory would not apply here. Unless we are talking about a chain store where they might centralize food prep for scale, I think the operations that prepare food onsite would use the most convenient supplier...themselves! Btw, I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with this...actually it's smart business.

                  2. I stopped in my local Chinese place recently and was watching a guy prep what looked like 20 lbs of leg quarters. Dark meat tastes better and has a juicier texture when cooked in small pieces like those foods. I asked if they made stock from the bones and he said yes. I prefer leg quarters to breasts myself. Cheaper, tastier, a little more work to prep, but I enjoy the work.

                    1. It's dark meat, which isn't that easy to get into nice chunks like white meat. If you've ever tried to remove bones from the thighs or drumstick, you'll know why. Dark meat is preferable for those dishes because you can keep them longer under a heat lamp without them getting tough and dry like white meat. It's also cheaper and more flavorful.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        Cheaper where you are, but here in Japan white breast meat is about half the price of good dark meat from the thighs. Well, makes sense to me.

                        1. re: Tripeler

                          Definitely true. It's all about supply and demand.

                      2. Most likely it's chicken thigh meat. Chicken thighs are less expensive than chicken breast. Also, the prep work on thighs is easy - one bone.

                        Chicken breast is usually available upon request plus an up charge.