Thai Fried Chicken

All other fried chicken is dead to me. This one has a ton of cilantro, garlic, and two kinds of pepper, and it culminates in the crispiest, most flavorful chicken I’ve ever experienced. (Rice flour, as it turns out, is the secret to perfectly crispy fried chicken. Who knew?) Really, this chicken is last meal good.

In this world, there are two types of people: those who love cilantro and those who hate it. Very little ambivalence about the green herb often mistaken for Italian parsley. This recipe is definitely for the cilantrophiles. The garlic is pretty powerful, too, so if you’re a vampire or planning to kiss someone after dinner, this probably isn’t for you. (If, on the other hand, you’re trying to avoid either of those things, this is your meal!)

The recipe I started from is Jarrett Wrisley’s, as found on the Atlantic‘s website. I have converted it from metric (as it was written), adapted it to be clearer where I felt it was vague, and updated it to reflect a few minor changes I made.

• 4 lbs chicken legs and thighs, skin on
• 1/2 bunch of cilantro (or about 25 stems), leaves and stems, finely chopped
• 3 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
• ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 14 cloves garlic, medium-sized, chopped
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
• ¾ cup rice flour, plus another 1.5 cups
• about 5 oz chicken stock or broth
• Peanut oil, enough for a depth of about 2″ in your favorite pan (I actually
use a small dutch oven/pot, to minimize splattering!)
• about 1/2 cup scallions and more cilantro, chopped, for serving (optional)

First, finely chop the cilantro and stems, and peel and roughly chop the garlic.

Place coriander and peppercorns into a mortar and pestle and pound to a paste, then add garlic and cayenne pepper and salt, continuing to pound to a fine paste.

Stir in fish sauce and chicken stock and mix well. Then, gradually incorporate the first 3/4 cups of rice flour until you have a smooth, wet batter.

Marinate chicken in this batter for at least two hours (ideally overnight.)

Take chicken out of the fridge and allow it to reach room temperature. Place the remaining 1.5 cups of rice flour in a shallow pan. Heat 2″ of peanut oil to about 365F in a deep-sided pan or dutch oven, then dredge each chicken piece in the rice flour just before frying until just past golden brown (about six minutes per side, in my experience.) Allow chicken to cool on paper towels for a few minutes, or hold it in a warm oven while you finish frying the remainder of the pieces.

Sprinkle chopped scallions and cilantro over chicken and serve. A little sriracha on the side makes a nice accompaniment for those who want to add some spice!

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