Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thai Fried Chicken

We got this recipe from Chez Pim the other day, who described it as the crispiest fried chicken ever. Now, ours didn't turn out so crispy, probably because we removed the skin from the chicken thighs we used, the skin is what would make it crispy. Not that these weren't good otherwise, quite tasty, though next time I'd cut down the amount of salt, we didn't use the recommended amount of chicken for the amount of marinade, and it did turn out a little too salty. But still great tasting. For some reason, Pim didn't put in the directions when to add the ground black pepper, I've added it at the same time as the oyster and fish sauces. The secret to the crispiness is rice flour, and it seems to work well.

Thai Fried Chicken
8-10 pieces of chicken, drumsticks or thighs, or both (a little over 2lbs or 1kg)
Enough canola oil or other high-temp oil to fill about 2-inch from the bottom of your cast iron pan (or a deep frying pan)
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
about 1 Tbsp of chopped cilantro roots (or just the bottom part of the stalks)
1 tsp kosher or (large-grained) sea salt
about 1/2 Tbsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce

For marinade, in a mortar or a small food processor, pound or chop the garlic, cilantro roots and salt into a rough paste. Transfer the paste into a large bowl, add the black pepper, oyster sauce and fish sauce and stir to mix well.

Rinse and dry the chicken pieces thoroughly, then place them into the bowl. With your hands, toss and rub the chicken pieces all over with the marinade mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic and let the chicken marinade in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Place about 2 cups of rice flour on a large plate. Take several pieces of the marinated chicken and coat with the rice flour, making sure to cover all parts. Shake off excess. Meanwhile, fill large heavy bottomed pan or wok with oil (about 2 inches from the bottom) and heat on medium-high to obtain a temperature of about 360C (use a thermometer). What you are looking for, is that the oil is not too hot, the chicken should "boil" quietly; if it is too hot, the bubbles will be violent and it will spit hot oil (be careful). If the oil is too hot, the outside will cook too quickly, and the inside flesh will not be cooked enough; lower the heat then. Ease each piece of chicken gently into the hot oil, being careful not to burn yourself.

Cook the chickens until golden brown and crisp all around. If you think the oil was too hot, and thus the outside cooked too quickly and quicker than the inside, cut into one piece and check to see if it has been cooked through (you should be able to see a little blood if it's not). If not, place in a warmed oven at 100C/225F for 10 minutes to finish cooking through.

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