Thai-marinated fried chicken

Thai fried chicken

If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ve seen those fried chicken carts at practically every street corner, with the giant wok smoldering like a witch’s cauldron filled with dark, smelly oil that seems as ancient as the broken down cart itself.  What those carts produce are the bright, bright gold, impossibly crisp, mind-blowingly flavorful pieces of fried chickens, so good you willingly suspend all your hygienic concerns.  Who cares how long those chickens lingered in the tropical heat with only the dodgiest "refrigeration", who gives a damn about how many times the oil has been re-used.  I’m going to take a big bite and let that crisp, garlicky, chicken-y goodness shatter into a million little pieces in my mouth and just die happy.  Wouldn’t you?

Luckily, you won’t need to hop on a plane – or get a special dispensation from your doctor – before you can eat one.  I’ve figured out how they’re made.  And it’s so very simple.  The trick is, let me just come out and tell you, rice flour.  You dredge the chicken pieces in rice flour, that’s what give them the crispiest skin.  I also marinate them in a paste made with garlic, oyster sauce, and fish sauce to give them a bit extra kick in the flavor department.

I just made a batch of this for lunch on the boat yesterday.  They were still a little crisp (and still dee-lish) even after a few hours in a cold box.  I’d show you a picture but we devoured them all before I could get the camera out from the cabin…

Thai fried chicken, or, the crispiest fried chicken ever

8-10 pieces of chicken, drumsticks or thighs, or both (a little over 2lbs or 1kg)
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
about 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro roots (or just the bottom part of the stalks)
about 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher or (large-grained) sea salt (If all you have is fine salt, skip it.)
3tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
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)

Marinatedlegs

In a mortar or a small food processor, pound or chop the garlic, cilantro roots, kosher salt into a rough paste.  Transfer the paste into a large bowl, add the 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 marinate mixture.  Cover the bowl with plastic and let marinade in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Dredgedandready

When you are ready to cook the chicken, place your pan over medium-low heat, fill it with enough oil (I used Canola) to cover about 2inches from the bottom of the pan, or about half way up the side.  Let the oil come up to frying temperature, about 360F or 180C.  Meanwhile, put about 2 cups of rice flour into a large plate (a pyrex pie plate works very well for this.)  When the oil is ready, take the chicken pieces, one at a time, drop it into the flour plate and coat well with the rice flour.  Shake each piece once or twice to remove excess flour and place them, gently, into the hot oil.

Frying

If you don’t have a thermometer, make sure your chicken pieces only gently sizzle in the hot oil.  Just listen to it, you should hear the oil just softly sizzling.  You should also see small bubbles around the chickens as they cook.  If the oil is too hot, you’ll be able to see and hear it too.  There will be a lot of large bubbles blowing up and spitting viciously.  It will make a lot of violent noises and your chicken will brown up in just a few minutes, but the inside will be rare.  That’s no good.  Just keep the flame low, and, when in doubt, turn the heat down just a little bit.

Cook the chickens until brown and crisp all around.  If you’re not so sure if they are cooked perfectly, cut one up and see if it’s cooked all the way through.  If you see a little blood, no big deal.  Just warm up the oven to about 225F or 100C, place your fried chickens on a cake rack over a cookie sheet and let them sit for 10 minutes to finish cooking.  (Don’t forget to lower the heat on your frying pan so the rest of your chickens take a bit longer to cook!)  It’s a good idea to heat up your oven to that temperature before you begin frying anyway, you can put your cooked chicken pieces in there while you fry the rest.  The oven will keep everything nice and warm, not to mention super crispy.

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  • http://www.oneforthetable.com/oftt/index.php Ann

    I am all over this. I’ve had American Southern fried chicken that was marinated in hot sauce and/or spice rub before flouring and frying, but this sounds much more interesting flavor-wise, and I’m intrigued by the rice flour. Besides, your description of the Thai street version of this is making me incredibly hungry….

  • http://www.oneforthetable.com/oftt/index.php Ann

    I am all over this. I’ve had American Southern fried chicken that was marinated in hot sauce and/or spice rub before flouring and frying, but this sounds much more interesting flavor-wise, and I’m intrigued by the rice flour. Besides, your description of the Thai street version of this is making me incredibly hungry….

  • http://www.oneforthetable.com/oftt/index.php Ann

    I am all over this. I’ve had American Southern fried chicken that was marinated in hot sauce and/or spice rub before flouring and frying, but this sounds much more interesting flavor-wise, and I’m intrigued by the rice flour. Besides, your description of the Thai street version of this is making me incredibly hungry….

  • http://www.heythattastesgood.com jill

    Yum. I’m making some version of this for dinner. Ginger instead of cilantro, things I find around the kitchen.

  • Georgette

    Wow, this looks very interesting and I plan on making it this weekend…and after reading it made me incredibly hungry also.

  • Frances P

    Did you use glutinous rice flour or non-glutinous rice flour?

  • http://kitchenmusings.typepad.com veron

    Oh Yum!!! This sounds even better than Keller’s Fried Chicken. I’ve always wondered why thai fried chicken was so good. Can you make the rice flour yourself by grinding in a coffee grinder/food processor – reason is I have this sacks of rice that I did not like and I never like to throw rice away – wondering if I could use those.

  • http://www.obagastronomia.com.br Orlando Baumel

    Hello!! Very nice your Blog! Congratulations and please visit my: http://www.obagastronomia.com.br Thanks!

  • http://danamccauley.wordpress.com Dana McCauley

    How funny is it that describing the gross parts of this recipes origins made me crave it like crazy? Obviously you use your words (and pictures!) well!

  • jane

    Oh this is an exciting menu to find! mmmm

  • http://www.LaughingDuckGarden.com/ldblog.php/ Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    Rice flour? I’ll have to try that.
    We’ve been using it to dust bread as it’s rising, so we got plenty on hand.

  • http://www.chicbysha.com Sha Anderson

    Oh this look so yum!! It’s just like the fried chickens we do in Singapore! Hmmm… missing home from down under.

  • http://icelandicchef.blogspot.com icelandicchef

    Nice….i´ll try it out, nothing beat´s a good old fried chicken.
    best regards
    http://www.icelandicchef.blogspot.com

  • http://www.macheesmo.com Nick

    Pim. I live on the coast (sort of) in DC. Does your boat deliver? You would have to boat up a river or two, but come on…
    Rice flour is such an innovative idea. I wonder if other flours would give interesting results? Might have to try this and some other kinds also.
    Cheers,
    Nick
    http://www.macheesmo.com

  • http://alexisthetiny.wordpress.com alexis

    I’ve just left Thailand after spending five months there and one of our favorite things was to buy fried chicken from the street vendors and snack on it. The adorable deep fried tiny garlic are a really nice thing to find in the bag. Man, I miss that place.

  • http://intentional-stones.typepad.com Simbelmyne

    ooooh.. thank you.
    But, still, your description makes me want to go to Thailand. That’s so wrong of me.

  • john

    Thanks for the recipe. Sounds terrific!
    A little recommendation, I found these to be so delicious and useful in my kitchen: http://bajoseasonedsalts.com/
    Cheers.
    John

  • http://www.talkoftomatoes.com janelle

    Perfect! Now I know what to do with the next chicken. We are just now fabricating chickens in culinary class, and I need all the practice I can get! So next chicken and I have a date with rice flour and Thai carts:). Thanks.

  • kudzu

    My Chinese cooking teacher taught us to fry a whole (yes) small chicken to use as the base of the best “Chinese chicken salad” I’ve ever tasted and she used rice flour….only because it is so much less expensive that water chestnut flour, which might have been the first choice. The crisp finish is amazing.

  • ben

    hey I tried your recipe. there were a couple things i think you might change but it was very good once i figured out what to do.
    1. tell us when to put in the black pepper
    2. cook the chicken at about 250F
    3. 2 cups of rice flour is more than you need.

  • leona

    FYI,
    I took this great class over the weekend that you guys might be interested in.
    Here is the link:
    http://www.digitalfoodphotos.com/blog/?page_id=57

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    The promise of this chicken — what a delicious marinade — makes me want to fry and fry again.

  • http://www.rasamalaysia.com Rasa Malaysia

    I do mine with rice flour + corn flour + all purpose, in equal portion plus a wee bit of baking soda. I use the same for fried bananas, too, and I think I can set up a stall selling fried banana if the going really gets tough. LOL.

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    Just an update: I made this chicken tonight and it was JUST SPECTACULAR! Thank you, thank you so much. I don’t usually fry chicken (this is the 1st time in 2 years that I’ve done it), because I’m too lazy but I was seduced by the marinade. And the marinade is all that it can be and MORE. The chicken was superdelicious!
    When I was preparing the marinade for the chicken, I was already beside myself with excitement because I can smell how lovely it is. I couldn’t bear to part with the marinade so after I fried the chicken, I sauteed some gai lan and mushrooms and dumped the marinade with the vegetables. The vegetables were also great.
    Oh the ultimate compliment? My father, who ALWAYS puts ketchup on fried chicken — any and all fried chicken — said, “The chicken is so good that I dare not put ketchup on it.”
    Thank you again and this recipe is a keeper.

  • http://www.folkmann.ca jfolkmann

    Oh my these look delicious. I loved all of the fried chicken throughout south east asia, can’t wait to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe.

  • fin

    Grachai and coriander seeds? I swear by these two ingredients with chick recipe. Look good and a whole lot better than KFC, keep it up, your blog brings a little bit of sun into my boring and often stressful life in currently a very very grey and cold london.

  • http://bestbyfarr.wordpress.com/ Ryan

    That looks awesome, I am all about spicy fried chicken. Take care

  • http://www.thebarefootkitchen.com Claire

    Wow…that looks delicious. I love fried chicken but have never quite achieved the level of crispyness I truly crave. Thanks for this – I’ll be trying it soon!

  • http://www.andreasrecipes.com Andrea

    Oh my. I have very fond memories of my grandmother’s Southern fried chicken, and I don’t usually fry chicken (haven’t in years…), but I must give this a try. I miss the good street food in Thailand!

  • http://parosparadise.blogspot.com Paroshep

    Yep, this will be the next thing that I cook.
    When will you have another Greek recipe–or perhaps a Greek staple cooked with Thai style?
    Cheers,

  • kyrik
  • Maggie

    Thanks for the rice flour idea. For even more fried skin goodness, I used little organic “drumlettes” instead of the drumsticks. This makes a great hour dourve or you can eat them all for dinner like we did.

  • http://www.cookingwiththejoneses.com lesley

    I love this blog, and have loads of friends who will enjoy this chicken, thanks Pim.
    Come & visit us at http://www.cookingwiththejoneses.com
    Lesley ;0)

  • http://www.buyacaipills.com Acai Berry Detox

    hmm very interesting good read thanks

  • Lionel

    Hmm… yumme! Never met a chicken I didn’t like, but this one I’ll remember fondly. Nice easy recipe with very good and tasty results. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://pampanguenacafe.wordpress.com/pampanguena-cafe-menu-take-out/ Charles

    Who is doing your photography? They look amazing. I’m a photographer my self. Could you kindly share some setups you do to picture your food?
    BTW I do the website for a restaurant here in MD, USA and have done their food pictures. Can we kindly exchange links?
    http://pampanguenacafe.wordpress.com
    Thanks
    Charles

  • http://www.rasamalaysia.com Rasa Malaysia

    Pim, tried this recipe tonight, soooooo good, yes, they taste just like the carts in BKK. I will post it as a Superbowl recipe and link to you. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

  • Tyra

    add it 1 or 2 tablespoons of chinese red wine :) perfect!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0105371ddbe3970b me.yahoo.com/a/LFy_7qR619VmbZjWP9F8_6czdtJ7l5rYnw–

    This recipe was excellent. The skin of the chickenwings I used, were really crispy. Keeping the pieces warm in a 100 degree oven is also working well. I know, I will make this fried chicken a lot more times in the feature.

  • P.

    Excellent recipe, I tried it and the chicken was very flavorful, crispy and not oily at all. Loved it!

  • Sam

    Best fried chicken I’ve ever had was on Rama IV right before the entrance to Suan Lum just before Lumpini Stadium. Sold by a malay guy who was fluent in Thai, English and Malay. Lord knows why he made his living selling chicken. He beats the hell out of Polo Fried Chicken any day.
    I’ve been looking for the recipe ever since I first tasted his magical wares.
    Thank you!

  • Alice

    I love this and look for any excuse to make it! I love the marinade! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • samah

    yes you can grind the rice yourself to make the rice flour. i’m from bangladesh and we make rice flour at home all the time. but we make it in a humungous mortar!

  • http://www.fitgizmos.com Fit Gizmos

    Yummy! great recipe…
    http://www.fitgizmos.com

  • Kees

    Hi Pim,
    Lovely article, beautiful pieces of chicken, but what are they called in Thailand? Can you please tell me their original name? Phonetically please, I do not master Thai characters.

  • Silaygirl

    Yum! I can’t wait to try this in my kitchen and bake them cupcake and cookies too…I am a FOODIE & a BAKER! It’s a passion of mine. I love trying out & creating new things/recipes! Thanks for sharing your great recipes with us!
    Life’s sweet, let’s bake!
    Silaygirl

  • http://mangemontreal.com KC

    You rock, I’m going to try this and serve it up with Khao niaw and Som Tam. I’ve been making fried chicken with Urad flour, but now its time for me to try the rice flour. Just wanted you to know that your blog is inspiring to me and many others. Thanks for your input!

  • nik

    Hello,
    Thank you for sharing this very good looking recipe, my chicken has just entered the 3-hour fridge phase.
    I was wondering you think your recipe is similar to this dish mentioned on this page
    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1955014_1940567_1939932,00.html
    If not, do you happen to know the recipe for it?
    Regards

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  • Nicole

    I went crazy for this chicken when I was in Thailand last month (for a paltry three days!) and am literally over the moon that I have a recipe for it now. You are forever my hero.

  • http://www.isinorthamerica.com Tina

    When it comes to friend chicken I am very open with new ideas on marinating… I never tried this Thai-marinated chicken it looks so delicious and I am sure it taste good too. Thai food is always been so yummy to me. This is another treat for my kids. I am sure they will love the new fried chicken recipe that I learned from you.

  • leng

    hallo! i just wondering if i could use powdered coriander in substitute with the coriander roots? if so, how much should i use?

    thanks so much in advance!

  • http://twitter.com/pee0noir Sean

    Solid recipe and instructions! I’ve made it twice before, and with a gloomy Oregon weekend in the forecast and a few friends coming over, this chicken is on the menu. Great flavor and uber-crispiness makes people happy.

    My tip: Like almost all fried chicken, if you have an outdoor burner, use it! Even with perfect temps, oil splatter is par for the course. Cooking outside minimizes clean time and avoids dirty looks from spouse.

  • http://www.betterfriedchicken.com Sandra Shaver

    This sounds just great!  I’ll try the rice flour as I have no experience with it yet.  Like they say “You learn something new every day.”

  • http://www.betterfriedchicken.com Sandra Shaver

    This sounds just great!  I’ll try the rice flour as I have no experience with it yet.  Like they say “You learn something new every day.”

  • Lilian

    love to try out this recipe. I saw a link to rasa malaysia website and she used a mix of rice, corn and all purpose flour. Is this better than rice flour only? According to her, she said that the rice flour may not adhere to the chicken and falls apart easily. What is ur opinion? Going to try it out day after tmr after marinating the wings overnight.

  • Mleeloza

    Can I cook the chicken a little bit before I fry it.? Thanks..

  • Bennypgranado

    That would be better.

  • mmmmm

    Hi,
    This looks delicious!  One quick question… what brand on rice flour do you use?  Thanks

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  • Chiamshe

    Hi, Thanks for sharing, Pim! I tried this recipe, with wings, and it was totally delicious. I think I got the oil temperature right, as the oil bubbled decisively but gently. The crust was VERY crispy, but at a point, the (very nice) juices of the chicken made parts of the crust soggy. Have you experienced/solved this problem? 

  • adam

    did you ever find that recipe

  • adam

    did you ever find the recipe?

  • DR.AKBAR

    WOW