The Best Fried Chicken I Have Ever Had


My holidays this year took me to Thailand, where we spent a grand total of 17 days wishing we had booked to stay longer, and particularly wishing we had stayed in Bangkok for a longer period of time than just two days. On the advice of many, we visited beach areas, and lush jungle, loving the chilled feel and landscape in the latter, but being slightly disappointed by the former. Thailand is amazing. The beaches are equally amazing. However, once you’ve been to the beach, I can’t help but feel that most beaches in the world are rather similar, no matter how white the sand and how sheer the rock faces around them are. Everything is tailored to the tourists – and as tourists, we should expect this, and it’s rather ironic to complain about such a thing, but there comes a point where there is only so much ‘fake’ Thailand you can take. Trying to relax on a tiny patch of sand when there are 50 other boatloads of tourists milling around you taking selfies is not my idea of the best beach in the world.

The thing that I loved most about the Land of Smiles, as Thailand is known there, was the cheap, beautiful, flavoursome food that was available on every street corner, at every turn took, and even available at the beach, from sellers carting baked bananas, sweetcorn, and coconuts galore around with them in the sweltering heat. Curries with layers of complex flavour left me gagging for more, and I could have spent hours in the supermarket deciphering packages of snacks, drinks, and desserts, all of them calling my name, begging me to try them. Time was our enemy in this case – there were so many dishes I wanted to taste. The best places to eat where the dirtiest, grubbiest carts at the roadside, surrounded by plastic chairs and tables blackened by dirt and exhaust fumes. There, we enjoyed many meals at around just 1€ each – including drink. Going off the beaten track proved even more rewarding – places where English wasn’t on the menu meant we got to eat just like the Thais – cheaply and spicily! I’ve come back to Spain with a taste of Thailand in my mouth and an urge to learn as many recipes as possible, recreate them, enjoy them, and make them my own. I spend most days in the Asian supermarkets, fawning over foreign spices and strange-looking vegetables.

One thing we never got to try in Thailand was street fried chicken. With so much available to us, it was one of those things that just happened to pass us by. Whilst watching a Thai cooking channel on Youtube, I stumbled across a recipe for Thai fried chicken, and knew I had to try some. The problem was that the recipe called for chicken wings, and I really dislike chicken skin, so I decided to rehash the recipe to the best of my ability, and from what I remembered on the video. It was also my first ever time making deep fried chicken, so I was keen to see the results.

I was NOT disappointed. This chicken is the best I’ve ever had, and I realise that means I’m not only blowing my own trumpet – I’m practically doing it until I’m blue in the face…but seriously, this chicken is almost worthy of me adding swear words into this sentence. I’m not going to – that would be vulgar, but I’m finding it hard to describe how good this chicken is without using a four-letter word. It’s ridiculously easy and sure to be a hit with anyone who tries it, so why not give it a go? It was great for us to try as it uses rice flour, so my boyfriend finally got some fried chicken, as most places here use breadcrumbs or normal flour. This recipe, however, is gluten-free.

What you’ll need:

2 tbsp black/white pepper (mixed).
1 whole fresh red chilli
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 shallots/baby onions
1 tsp fish sauce
3/4 tbsps soy sauce
100g rice flour (approx)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (optional)
Water
3 chicken breasts, cut into strips.
Vegetable oil for frying
2 more shallots, for garnish

Serves 3/4

First you’ll need a pestle and mortar. It would be quite difficult to make without one, but if you chop up your garlic and shallots rrreeeeallly small, you might be able to do it!

Beginning to make the paste
Beginning to make the paste
The finished sauce
The finished sauce

Chop up your garlic and shallots, then pound in the pestle and mortar until they resemble a paste. Add in your chilli, again chopped, and continue to pound.Now it’s time to stir in your pepper, salt, and sugar. Add these to the minced garlic/shallots and keep on pounding – hope your hand isn’t too tired yet!

Mix in the wet sauces – soy and fish. Transfer mixture to a freezer bag, or a container to marinate the chicken in. The bag is better as it allows you to rub the mixture into the chicken without getting yourself too messy.

Put chicken into freezer bag, and rub in the mixture. Make sure it’s fully coated, and then store in the fridge for 1hr minimum. The longer you leave it, the better the flavour’ll be.

When your chicken is ready, whizz up a batter in a bowl. Pour in some of your rice flour (you can easily make more, so I’d say play this one by ear…or eye) and bicarb, and mix well with water until a smooth batter is formed. It should be liquidy, rather than just a paste. Add further soy sauce if desired.

Prepare a plate with the remaining rice flour, and a sheet of tin foil to rest the chicken on before cooking. Dip the chicken in the batter, then transfer to the rice flour plate, and coat thoroughly. Set the battered chicken onto the tin foil. Do this until all are completely coated. Leave to dry out a little on the tin foil sheet. Chop up your remaining shallots ready for frying. Don’t chop them too small, just enough to crisp up.

Prepare a pan of hot oil. It’ll need to be enough to deep fry the chicken. Get the temperature up to optimum for frying, then add in your chicken strips, not crowding the pan (2/3 at a time). Keep turning the chicken and cook until golden brown in colour. Transfer to a plate with kitchen paper on it to soak up any excess oil. Keep going until all your chicken is cooked. Add the shallots into the pan and fry off, taking out as they become crispy. Garnish your chicken with the shallots; serve with plain thai rice, and sweet chilli sauce.

Beautiful beautiful fried chicken!
Beautiful beautiful fried chicken!
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Ventures into the Free World


In June, we were given some terrible news. My boyfriend was to follow a strict diet, embarking on a gluten-free and lactose-free adventure. At the time, our hearts sank. What would he do without cheese? Bread, that staple of the Catalan community, was a thing of the past. Many things contain gluten that we don’t even think about – including things such as toothpaste. This news was given to me on my birthday, which rather ruined our fine dining Italian restaurant experience I’d chosen as a birthday treat.

Trips to the world’s most expensive supermarkets, selling Bio everything, were now a part of the weekly shop. Meals out became increasingly difficult, with almost half the menu often wiped out. In solidarity, I decided to reduce my gluten and lactose intake, expecting it to be one of the hardest things I’d have to do. I have a complicated relationship with food, and after just starting to enjoy it, and myself, in food-related situations, I thought life was about to become much more bland and boring.

Things couldn’t have been further from the truth. It’s not that hard to eat ‘free-from’, especially now in Spain, as Bio supermarkets become more popular, and intolerances, or even life choices regarding diets, become widely more commonplace. I now have become an experimenter with food – my blender is my best friend, and my purse is suffering the consequences, but I don’t care. When your tummy feels happy, it affects everything in your life.

For this reason, I’ve decided to start sharing some of my experiments here, as I’d been posting many things on Facebook with people often requesting recipes – so watch this space for some interesting and (hopefully) delicious recipes!

Today’s experiment was based around chia seeds. These little balls of surprise contain huge amounts of fibre and protein, and magically bulk up things such as overnight oats and smoothies, to make a thicker texture. They have no taste, so are easy to add to recipes just for the nutritional benefit. But I wanted more from my chia seeds. I wanted to see what else they offered me. After browsing around the internet, I stumbled across a few recipes substituting egg as a binding agent for chia seeds. As it was a Sunday, my baking hat was already on – I love baking on Sundays, as it reminds me of home, and weekends spent licking the batter from spoons. I decided to create my own cake recipe that encompassed lactose-free and gluten-free.

Why not go the whole hog, though? If I didn’t use an egg, I could go further and make the cake dairy-free…and then push it more and make it refined sugar-free. A true experiment, because I bloody love cake. Nothing beats the light, fluffy goodness of it when it’s freshly baked. However, I’d sworn I’d eat less sugar (the ingredient in EVERYTHING, it seems) and was looking for recipes the other half could eat guilt-free. Needs must.

So, here’s my recipe for a banana loaf (one of my favourites in the loaf world), but tweaked to be free from nearly everything. Enjoy!

Chia Seed Banana and Walnut Loaf

Chia seeds absorbing away
Chia seeds absorbing away

The first thing to do is get your chia seeds into some water and let them soak it up. You’ll need 1tbsp of them, to 3tbsp of water. I just used tap water and left them in a little ramekin to do their thing. This will replace your egg and bind your mixture together. Plus so much good in such a little seed can’t be doing any harm, can it?

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade. On a hot day in my kitchen, there was nothing less that I felt like doing, but having the oven ready means having cake much sooner!

While those absorb, mash up bananas in a mixing bowl. Then add your muscovado sugar. You could do this with other sugars, of course, but I’m very partial to it in baking for its rich taste, and the fact that it’s non-refined. It’s difficult to get hold of in Spain but you can go to Bio markets and self-serve nut/grain shops like ‘Gra’ in the Gracia neighbourhood – which is reasonably priced and crammed up to the brim with alternative flours, pastas and grains. You can also sweeten your cake up with dates, but I like to taste the banana more than anything, so I put quite little sugar in.

Muscovado sugar and mashed banana ready for further mashing
Muscovado sugar and mashed banana ready for further mashing

I added some maple syrup into my mix, but you don’t have to. I am a sucker for syrup in general, so it winked at me from the corner of the cupboard. I think it wouldn’t make much difference flavour-wise, so if you have some to hand, then do the same as me and pour a smidgen in.

Mix up your sugar and banana mix, and add vanilla essence/powder. I bought some pure vanilla powder from a local health shop, and felt it was quite expensive at €12, but I use it every day for smoothies and other puddings so it’s a worthy investment, plus it lasts a while. The chia seeds need to have rested in the water for twenty minutes, so make sure they have done so, and then add them into your banana/sugar blend.

Weigh desiccated coconut and buckwheat flour out, and add the tsp of baking powder. If you don’t make this GF, you can use self-raising flour and cancel out the baking powder. You could add chocolate pieces/cacao nibs/cocoa powder for flavour, but that’s another experiment waiting to happen!

The finished mix
The finished mix

Mix your flour and coconut into the mashed banana mixture. Now it’s time to add some almond milk, a little at a time along with the flour mix, until you have a nice smooth consistency. Your instincts should tell you how much you need to put in – if it’s a little on the dry side, add more almond milk, and if it’s too watery, then you may need to add more flour/coconut to bulk it up. This is the reason why you need to add it all a little at a time!

The finishing touch will be some walnuts. Cut them up small, if you like, or keep them rather big for texture. Fold them into the mixture and it’s ready to be poured into a baking tin, pre-greased (I did mine with vegetable oil) or filled with baking parchment.

Put your cake in the oven and cook for about 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Take out and leave to rest, then get it while it’s hot! The loaf’s texture is heavy because of the buckwheat, so if you don’t like that kind of dessert, you can switch and experiment with flours. I wanted a dense loaf suitable for work time snacks, so the texture was perfect for me.

The finished product!
The finished product!

Voila! Here’s my finished loaf. The colour was a rich brown, and it might sound strange, but that’s exactly how it tasted to me – I told you I liked that muscovado taste! The bananas add a lot of flavour and the texture is completely different to your usual banana loaf, which is why I liked it a lot. You could serve it as a dessert and pour more syrup on it, if you liked, or you could do as I’m going to, and take slivers for fuel throughout the day.

Ingredients:

120g buckwheat flour

2 whole bananas

60g dark muscovado sugar (dates can also be added to sweeten)

1 tsp baking powder (can be found gluten-free)

1 tsp pure vanilla powder or vanilla essence

Cutting into the loaf
Cutting into the loaf 

30g desiccated coconut

50ml almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds, mixed with 3 tbsp water

Handful of walnuts

Maple syrup to taste