From Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite dishes from around the world
I love the clean flavors here. There are so many aromatics in the savory fish sauce marinade and they all come together in simply fried chicken. You can use this same marinade and roast or grill the chicken instead of frying it too. I’m partial to the frying, especially using this technique of lightly coating with cornstarch first. It’ll get you a shatteringly crisp, thin skin. I couldn’t settle on any one cut of chicken here because I like wings and Matthew prefers thighs; just be sure to stick with dark meat.
2 stalks lemongrass, white and pale yellow parts only, smashed and sliced
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried shrimp, optional
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 pounds chicken thighs, wings, or drumsticks
Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup cornstarch
1. In a food processor, pulse the lemongrass, ginger, chile flakes, cilantro, scallions, shrimp, and sugar until finely chopped. With the machine running, add the lime juice, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Immediately transfer to a gallon-size, heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag, and massage the marinade into the meat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
2. Add enough oil to a cast-iron or other heavy skillet to come 1/2 inch up the sides. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 365°F. The oil’s ready when a little cornstarch dropped in bubbles and sizzles steadily.
3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, wiping off excess solids. Place on a half sheet pan in a single layer. Place the cornstarch in a fine-mesh sieve and dust the chicken on both sides with the cornstarch.
4. Carefully place the chicken in the oil, skin side down. Repeat, adding just a few more pieces to the pan. You don’t want to crowd the pan. Keep adjusting the heat to keep a steady sizzle and to maintain 365°F. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then carefully turn each piece over. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then continue cooking and turning to evenly brown until cooked through, about 10 minutes total.
5. Crumple up some paper towels and drain the chicken on them. Repeat with the remaining chicken, replenishing and reheating the oil between batches. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve hot.
Some Like It Hot: You can increase the chile flakes or serve the cooked chicken with hot sauce.
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