Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thai Fried Chicken

I not sure what inspired me to tackle a this recipe for Thai fried chicken. I can't remember the last time I fried a chicken or even ate fried chicken. I blame it on geography. I live in the northeast, where fried chicken isn't exactly as popular as it is in the south.  My mother never made it (about as close as she got was Shake n' Bake and that does not count) and growing up I don't recall my friends eating fried chicken at home.

Plus all that hot oil makes me nervous; I was convinced I'd knock over the frying pan and start a grease fire. And speaking of grease, fried chicken isn't particularly the first thing that comes to mind when I think about healthy, low calorie eating.

Nevertheless, I got over my phobias when I saw this article on the Atlantic Food Channel. It sounded so good: spicy, crunchy Thai fried chicken. And it was good, with a zippy, crisp, golden crust encircling juicy, perfectly cooked chicken. I made both thighs and legs, but I'll probably use just thighs next time. Some of the article's commentors found it difficult to find cilantro root and used more stems instead, but I often buy cilantro in the grocery store with the root attached and I'm pleased to discover they can be used. For dipping, I used A Taste of Thai's Garlic Chili Pepper Sauce (I couldn't find Sriracha sauce).

2 lbs. chicken, thighs, legs or wings
2 large cilantro roots, scraped clean and finely chopped
5 cilantro stems, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
7 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
7 tablespoons rice flour (I found rice flour made by Goya)
3/4 cup chicken
Oil for frying
Garlic Chili Pepper sauce, Sriracha sauce or Thai sweet chili sauce, for dipping

1. Place cilantro stems and roots and peppercorns in mortar and pestle and pound into a paste (or place in food processor to make paste). Add garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and keep pounding into a fine paste.

2. Put paste in large bowl, stir in fish sauce and chicken stock. Gradually add rice flour, stirring, to make a smooth wet batter.

3. Add chicken to batter, coat all pieces well and marinate in refridgerator overnight. (Can marinate for as little as two hours, but longer is better.)

4. Remove chicken from refridgerator and allow it to reach room temperature. Heat oil (I used canola) to 350 to 375 degrees F and fry chicken about 10 minutes each side until golden brown.

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