Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sukhamvit Soi Five fried chicken

This is a modified version of a recipe I found about a year ago in theatlantic.com's brief-lived food section. It's still in the archive, but it's hard to find and only one other blogger seems to have written it up. The article accompanying the recipe is by Jarrett Wrisley who attributes it to Mr. Pee, a Bancock street vendor whom he met selling chicken outside the Foodland Supermarket on Sukhamvit Soi Five in 2001.

My only change was to use a whole bunch of cilantro instead of 10 cilantro stems and 4 large cilantro roots. I presume that made the marinade greener, but as I've never encountered a cilantro root, I don't know if there's any other differences.

1 head cilantro including stems, chopped
14 (count'em) cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2/3 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons rice flour
1 chicken, butchered into serving pieces

1. Blend the cilantro, garlic, peppercorns, pepper flakes, salt and fish sauce until smooth. Add a little chicken stock to get everything moving around in the food processor. Remove to a large bowl, and stir in the rest of the stock. Add the rice flour gradually until a smooth loose batter forms. Add a little water if it gets too thick.

2. Add the chicken, coat well and refrigerate overnight.

3. Bring chicken up to room temperature. [I laid the chicken out on a tray to speed the process along.] The batter will have thickened up to a paste so make sure it's spread on the chicken evenly. Or, at least try to do a better job of it than I did.

4. Heat oil to 350 and fry around 5 minutes on each side until the center of the meet reaches 160 degrees. It should be more of a copper than a golden brown. [I had trouble cooking the chicken through before the crust burnt with my later batches so watch your oil temperature.]

Let cool a few minutes and serve with sriracha.

The raw batter is spicy and harsh so it's surprising that the cooked crust is more prominently salty. And the spicy notes are more in the Colonel's 11 secret herbs and spices vein than anything notably Bancockian. That's a little disappointing, but it's very tasty for what it is. The meat is flavorful and juicy. The crust is crackly crisp while being well adhered to the meat and inextricably merged with the skin. Gorgeous stuff and very easy. The sriracha isn't necessary, unlike for a lot of mediocre Thai food, but it adds the missing heat and a touch of acid that pops the chicken's flavor nicely so give it or your favorite other hot sauce a try.

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