If you are a garlic and fried chicken lover, this is your recipe. It is similar to the fried chicken served by Bangkok, Thailand street vendors. The marinade is whizzed up in a food processor and all you do is fry it up. Definitely, a good alternative to regular fried chicken. The generous amount of garlic turns the chicken a darker hue. I like this recipe because this fried chicken taste distinctly different in very good ways, from conventional fried chicken.  Better still, you do not have to bother with egg washes, bread crumbs, dipping them in a flour bath, no slurry to prepare, no double frying required…   Just drop chicken from marinade straight into hot oil! Simplicity.

Garlic Fried Chicken from Siam Square, Bangkok. I want more!

Not satisfied with just eating it there. Look what I brought home from my trip to Bangkok!  Pack it well in lots of heavy duty freezer packs and a cooler bag. I bought some little bags of sticky glutinous rice too. I am a great luggage packer!

Bangkok Thailand Garlic Fried Chicken

Prep: ~20 minutes 
Cook: ~7 -8 minutes per batch
Inactive: ~2 hours or overnight in refrigerator
Level: Easy
Serves: ~6
Oil Temperature: 320F (160C)
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Yes, it reheats well.

Ingredients

4.5  lbs (2 kg) chicken wings, about 23 wings*
1/2 cup (70g) garlic cloves
1/8 cup (20g) roughly chopped coriander/cilantro roots** OR 1/3 cup coriander/cilantro stems OR 1/2 Tablespoons coriander powder
1/4 cup (20g) roughly chopped coriander/cilantro stems
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
~1/2  teaspoon red chilli flakes/powder***
1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock OR make this up with water and chicken bouillon
~1 and 1/2  – 1 and 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3/4 cup rice flour
2 Tablespoons corn flour
3 to 4 cups (enough to cover the chicken pieces completely) vegetable oil*
* You could use other chicken pieces. Cut them into smaller pieces, 2.5″ (6.5cm), so they cook faster and you don’t risk the garlic burning. Adjust frying time accordingly.
** The roots have the most intense flavour. Try getting coriander/cilantro with roots at your Asian grocery stores. If you cannot find those with roots, make up for it by using as much of the bottom thicker stems as possible.
*** Depends on how spicy your chilli flakes/powder is and how spicy you like your chicken.
* Do not use olive oil. You are looking for a neutral tasting oil with a higher smoke point. I use either sunflower, safflower or rice bran.

Method

1. Clean the coriander very well by soaking it in a basin of water for ~5 minutes to loosen the soil that is usually caught in between the stems and leaves. Rinse under running water, rubbing off any soil that is stuck along the roots.  Soak again in a fresh basin of water and repeat process under it is completely cleaned of soil.

Scrape off any remaining soil from cilantro roots. Top root has not been cleaned. The bottom root has been scrapped cleaned.

2. Clean the chicken, drain and pat dry. Remove chicken tips and keep them in the freezer to make chicken stock. Cut wings into two at joint. If using whole chicken pieces, cut them into ~2.5″ (6.5 cm) so that the chicken pieces don’t take too long to cook and risk burning the garlic in the marinade.
3. To make the marinade, whizz everything except chicken and flours in a food processor until you have a smooth puree.
4. In a large bowl, mix well, the chicken, marinade and flours. Cover and refrigerate. Marinate at least 2 hours.

Let’s fry
1. Heat oil to 320F (160C) about medium heat. Slide chicken into oil. Watch out for oil splattering. Do not overcrowd your frying pan. This brings down the temperature of the cooking oil. Patience is key.  I can only get 8-10 chicken wing parts into my 9.5″ (24cm) frying pan.
2. This chicken is meant to fry up drier than ‘juicy fried chicken’. ‘Juicy fried chicken’ as in chicken that most likely had been brined or marinated with buttermilk (making them fry up moist and juicy). This chicken recipe is all about flavour. If you are looking for a thick crispy coating of batter, this is not the recipe for you. It will have crispy bits but it is definitely more about the garlic infused meat.
3. Turn the chicken every 2 minutes.  Chicken wings (mine were small in size) should cook in about 7 to 8 minutes. Please note that you do not want to fry your chicken in oil that is too hot or fry it took quickly. Why? Remember there is a lot of garlic in the marinade. It will burn and taste bitter. So better to go slow. Of course, how fast it cooks depends also on the size of the chicken. Test with a skewer pierced into the thickest part of the meat. No blood means cooked chicken. Drain on wire rack.

To serve
1. Serve as is. No sauce required unless you think it is too dry for your liking than whip out the sweet chilli sauce.
2. I serve this with finely shredded raw cabbage to the side. No dressing required. Just soak the shredded cabbage in an ice water bath for 5 minutes. Drain well. The cool, crisp cabbage is refreshing as it helps cut the greasiness from the fried chicken.
3. The chicken reheats well in a 350F (175C) oven, about 10-15 minutes. I sit the chicken wings on a wire rack over an oven tray so that excess oil can drain.

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Tips

(1) For those of you who do not like cilantro/coriander/parsley, I suggest you still leave it in the recipe. The chicken wings taste distinctly of garlic and the cilantro just accentuates the garlic and chicken flavours. You would not taste any cilantro.
(2) I often freeze the marinated chicken so that I can have Thai Garlic Fried Chicken when the craving hits me.
(3) What do you do with the cilantro leaves that were not used? I make an omelette and serve it as part of the meal.
Quick Cilantro Omelette Recipe
1. Fry one onion (sliced) in oil, and going with the Asian theme, beat 4 eggs with 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon fish sauce, add pepper/salt to taste. Fry up omelette.
2. Add chopped cilantro before flipping the omelette onto its other side. When I want something quicker, I don’t even bother with the onions.
3. If possible, do not replace the fish sauce with soy sauce.  It would not taste the same but should still be good. You should also bear in mind that fish sauce is saltier than soy sauce so adjust the salt accordingly.

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