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Digging into the cluckin' awesome world of our favorite fried food.
In 2013, acclaimed Vietnamese chef Charles Phan—best know for his famed San Francisco restaurant, Slanted Door—opened Hard Water, a New Orleans-style whiskey bar in the Embarcadero. Living in New Orleans myself, I can attest that the large Vietnamese population here shares its vibrant flavors with the traditional local food scene, and that the two cuisines often inform and enliven each other in deep and interesting ways. They share a love of boldness and complexity that make the fusion rather seamless. (And, of course, the perfect bread for po' boys and banh mi is interchangeable, so they have that in common.)
Phan's Asian take on Southern fried chicken, which he serves at Hard Water and shares in Lee Brian Schrager's Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America's Best Fried Chicken and Sides, reflects this happy synthesis. He dry-brines his chicken in salt and garlic powder and leaves it uncovered in the refrigerator for 24 hours to dry out the skin. Then he dredges it in a spicy mix with turmeric and coriander and deep-fries it to a gorgeous sunny-gold crisp.
And now let's talk about the sriracha butter, because the chicken is delicious, but this sriracha butter kills it. Sriracha and lime juice, with a touch of sugar and salt, is whirred in a blender to which a generous amount of melted butter is slowly added. The result is a creamy, fiery but balanced sauce that in no way should be allowed near anything fried. It's just dangerously good. But over the chicken it goes, and you'll never want to eat fried chicken without it ever again.
Why I picked this recipe: I know, and you know I know, that you've thought about what it would be like to slather frothy butter sauce over your deep-fried chicken.
What worked: The chicken and the sauce and the two together. The air-chilling did seem to result in very crispy skin; it's definitely a technique worth adding to the arsenal.
What didn't: Nothing to complain about here.
Suggested tweaks: Though not mentioned in the recipe, a squeeze of lime per the photograph is a nice touch. And let me know how you end up using up the extra Sriracha butter (stirred into ramen is my next bright idea for it)!
Reprinted from Fried & True by Lee Schrager with Adeena Sussman. Copyright (c) 2014 by Lee Schrager. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, LLC.
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