The recipe of this should be incorporated into our national anthem, obviously.
Nicole Buckler investigates this hard-hitting story.
For those unaware of modern Irish fusion food, a “spice bag” is a type of heaven known mainly to people who are locked and stumbling down an Irish street at 2am looking for a takeaway. This is what happens when people from all over the world move to Ireland and give our previously bland food a good ass-whipping. A spice bag (Irish: mála spíosrach) can be found mainly on the mean streets of Dublin, but its influence is now seeping all over the country.
So what is in the mysterious beast that is the spice bag? It consists of deep-fried chips, crispy shredded chicken and/or chicken balls, red and green peppers, sliced chilies, and a variety of spices. It is sometimes accompanied by a tub of curry sauce. If the chipper is daring, they might add onions, because this is Ireland and it is the future, dammit.
Available in Chinese takeaways and chippers since the 2010s, the dish has developed something of a cult following. And why wouldn’t it? It tastes like an Irish person who has returned from a working holiday in Kowloon City. The fame of the spice bag has reached fabled proportions, with revellers claiming their inner city chipper has found the ultimate recipe, and all other offerings are worthless and unmagnificent.
As any Irish person knows, the spice bag has magical healing properties. If one eats a spice bag after 2am, it has the ability to mop up extra-circular alcohol, relieving the hangover that is due in the morning right on time like the first Luas.
This concoction is now so firmly entrenched in our cultural landscape that it was voted as Ireland’s favourite takeaway at the Just Eat National Takeaway Awards last year.
Whilst our culture is usually a delicate thing, not to trifled with, a young upstart called Kwanghi Chan has now decided the time is right to mess with the successful formula that is the spice bag. He has gone ahead and risked his place in polite society by presenting us with a DUCK spice bag. Now, it remains to be seen if we are indeed ready for this cultural compromise on our newest Irish food. But, I might need to sit down for a minute because duck is my favourite flesh of any dead beast.
For reference, Kwanghi Chan is the same human that brought us the take-home tub of ChanChan Spice Bag Seasoning. Yes, it is he, a spice-bag pioneer, who dares to suggest new meat into an already perfect product. He has gotten into bed with Duck on Fade Street, in Dublin 2 to bring this to spice-bag hunters of the night.
Personally, I think we are ready. We are now at a stage in our country’s development that we can cope with the introduction of new meats to this once unalterable dish. Once we accept that new meats are possible, we can actually try this pioneering advance in 2am food choices. So here is what you need to know. Kwanghi’s ChanChan Duck Spice Bag (€8.50) is the first In Ireland to be made with Chinese roast duck. The quacker is slow-roasted in a special “bullet oven” imported from Hong Kong. It is then mixed with crispy shoestring fries, wok-flamed red peppers, scallions and a sprinkling of ChanChan Hot Pepper Spice Bag Seasoning. The ChanChan Duck Spice Bag is then topped with spicy Sriracha mayo and garnished with chilli and toasted sesame seeds.
If you are not in Dublin and have a deep fryer, then you can try to copy this Irish delicacy in your own home. (I will let myself in if you don’t mind, while you are doing so. Have chopsticks ready.) Don’t go too hard too fast, and leap straight up to duck. Start with chicken first. Stay calm, you are not yet ready to unlock the spice bag level: duck.
Buy the spice mix, and make it yourself, using the below recipe. But if you want to introduce new meats or God forbid, new vegetables, you will need special permission from the Irish Food Overseers. Take it slow. Stay calm. Don’t punch above your culinary weight.
Here is the recipe:
At-Home Spice Bag:
- 2 fresh Chicken fillets
- 4 tbsp. cornflour or Panko breadcrumbs. (Potato starch or rice flour can also be used to create a more authentic coating)
- 2 medium eggs
- 3 pinches of spice bag seasoning
- 1 red pepper/green pepper (sliced)
- 1 red chilli (sliced)
- 1 small onion (sliced)
- Low calorie spray or sunflower/ Donegal rapeseed Garlic oil
- 2 Handful of fresh cut Chips or oven chips
-Firstly prepare Chicken fillets by cutting into approximately 3 inch strips
-Whisk egg in a bowl; add cornflour or breadcrumbs to the other bowl along with the spice bag seasoning, Leave a side or in the fridge
-Start cutting all the vegetables, set aside.
-Add sliced onion, a handful of sliced green & red pepper, 1 freshly chopped chilli, in a heavy based frying pan or wok.
-Dip each cube in the egg and then in the crumb mix and onto a plate while you repeat the process for the rest of the chicken.
-Put in raw chicken strips & chips, after 15 mins add the veg, spice bag seasoning.
-Finger pinch Sprinkle the spice bag seasoning if needed more to your taste before serving.
The thing to remember is that we would never pressure you to send us pots of spice bag mix to us for Christmas at PO Box 8, Bray Business Park, Bray, County Wicklow.
Good luck, and may the deep fryer ever be in your favour.