Cook the Book: Thai Chicken Karaage

[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

When choosing recipe for this week's Cook the Book cookbook, Food Trucks by Heather Shouse I tapped our resident street food aficionado Erin Zimmer for some insider favorites. She was ready and willing with tons of great suggestions including East Side King, a cart parked in the backyard of an Austin dive bar.

She visited on a Serious Eats book research trip with AHT editor Robyn Lee. Read Erin's review for more on this imaginative Asian-inspired drinking food done right by talented chefs from the Austin's well-known Uchi. The bottom line: Erin and Robyn left a little obsessed after late-night fried beets, fried brussel sprouts, and this Thai Chicken Karaage.

The chicken is genius drinking food, the sort of crunchy, fried, salty, spicy stuff that was born to be paired with cold beers. It's a riff on Japanese karaage enlivened with the sweet, sour, salty, spicy components of southeast Asian cooking—sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, and plenty of chiles.

The recipe begins a day in advance with chunks of boneless chicken thighs marinated in a pungent brine. The following day it's just a matter of dredging the chicken pieces in cornstarch, frying them, and dressing them in the reserved brine mixed with chile sauce and a mix of basil, mint, thin sliced onions and jalapeños. And of course, it's advisable to have many cold beers on hand for optimal karaage enjoyment.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Food Trucks to give away this week.

Adapted from Food Trucks by Heather Shouse. Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

Cook the Book: Thai Chicken Karaage

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About This Recipe

Yield:2 to 3
Active time:40 minutes
Total time:24 hours
Rated:

Ingredients

  • For the brine:
  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and minced
  • 4 Thai chiles, coarsely chopped
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
  • To cook and serve:
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chile sauce, such as Mae Ploy brand
  • Salt
  • 12 fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • 6 fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, torn

Procedures

  1. 1

    To make the brine, combine all of the ingredients. Set aside 1 cup of the brine for use later. Add the chicken thighs to the remaining brine, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

  2. 2

    Remove the chicken from the brine and place the pieces in a strainer or colander, letting the excess brine drain off. Discard the brine.

  3. 3

    Pour enough oil into a deep pot or countertop fryer to cover the chicken and heat to 370°F. Dust the chicken generously with cornstarch and fry until golden brown. Use tongs to turn the pieces for even browning. Remove the chicken from the fryer with tongs or a slotted spoon and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the onion, jalapeños, the reserved 1 cup brine, and the chile sauce, toss to coat, and season with salt to taste. Garnish with the cilantro, mint, and basil and serve.

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