Momofuku's Fried Chicken
Yes, it was Chef David Chang's slow poached egg that first made its way into the Oui, Chef kitchen to much acclaim from the whole gang here (and many of you out there that tried it). We had so much fun with his egg that I've been curious to try one of his other recipes, and what could make more sense after trying his egg, then to give his chicken a whirl. This recipe comes from his tremendous cookbook Momofuku , which is not just a fab collection of recipes, but a real glimpse behind the scenes to give the reader a sense of what makes Chang tick.
There are probably a handful of other chefs to whom I'd bestow a kiss of gratitude, but let's not crawl down that rat hole at the moment.
Sadly for most of my clan, only Muppet and I were around on the night we tried this recipe. As you might imagine the two of us ate very well indeed, polishing off a whole chicken between the two of us. I'd never made fried chicken before, and as its such a quintessential American summer dish, I told myself that this was the year that I was gonna bite the bullet and buy a round trip ticket to the land of lard. I'd even started gathering recipes to try, some very traditional southern contenders where the use of lard for frying is an absolute must, and a few more contemporary (and somewhat healthier) versions using canola or peanut oil for cooking.
Just before I found Chang's recipe I had settled on trying Chef Thomas Keller's version of fried chicken from his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook as my first foray into these sacred waters (yes, I suppose he's on the kiss list too). And while that recipe remains in the queue, and WILL represent my first crack at a southern "style" fried chicken (one that is marinated, then dredged in flour before frying), Chang's sounded so different and interesting that I had to try it immediately.
Chang's is different because while it IS a fried chicken, its not at all a southern fried chicken recipe. Rather than marinate and coat the chicken, then cook it entirely from its raw state in oil (or lard if you dare), Chang has you steam the chicken first, then fry it without a flour coating, and finally toss the crispy cooked chicken in a tangy Asian vinaigrette.
It's freaking addicting.....crisp, moist and just packed with great flavor!
For a Momofuku recipe, this one's a snap to make. The brine for the chicken is simple, and as long as you have a bamboo steamer, steaming the chicken is no big deal. I must confess that I was lucky here because we actually have a steam-oven that allowed steam cooking at a constant 160 ℉ with no fuss. Because the chicken is pre-cooked by the time it hits the fryer, that part of the process goes pretty quickly. Pull the pieces from the fryer, toss them in the insanely good vinaigrette and you're in business.
Cheers - Steve
Momofuku's Fried Chicken
from: Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan
- 4 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- One 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 4 pieces - 2 legs, 2 breast halves with wings attached
- 4 cups grapeseed or other neutral cooking oil
- Octo Vinaigrette (Recipe follows)
- Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a large container with a lid or a large freezer bag, and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the chicken to the brine, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and no more than 6.
- Set up a steamer on the stove. Drain the chicken and discard the brine. Put the chicken in the steamer basket (if you are using a stacking Chinese-style bamboo steamer, put the legs in the bottom level and the breast on the top). Turn the heat to medium and set the lid of the steamer ever so slightly ajar. Steam the chicken for 40 minutes, then remove it from the steamer and put it on a cooling rack to cool. Chill it in the refrigerator, preferably on the rack, for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you fry it.
- In a deep skillet, heat enough oil for the chicken to be submerged to 375 ℉. Fry the chicken in batches, turning once, until the skin is deep drown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Cut the chicken into a few pieces: cut the wing from the breast, cut the breast in half, cut through the knee to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Put in a large bowl, toss with the vinaigrette, and serve hot.
- 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 1 fresh bird's eye-chile, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup usukuchi (light soy sauce)
- 2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1/4 tsp Asian sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Combine the garlic, ginger, chile, vinegar, soy, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, sugar, and a few turns of black pepper in a lidded container and shake well to mix. This will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, and is good on everything except ostrich eggs, which is really more the ostrich's fault than the vinaigrette's.
Note: When preparing the garlic and ginger for this recipe, make sure to take your time and work your knife skills: small, even pieces of garlic and ginger (not the mush that a garlic press or a ginger grater creates) really make a difference. Big bits of raw garlic can have an acrid sting: chunks of ginger will deliver a too-spicy blast can be unpleasantly fibrous.