Have you ever been to KFC, hating the idea of eating at a chain, and then realizing that the chicken is actually quite good? I will argue that the key to a good fried chicken is juicy chicken and crispy coating. I will make just that, juicy chicken and crispy coating. As for the condiments, we’re talking sweet and sour sauce with an Uzbek cabbage salad on the side. And for once, I’ve decided to write a recipe that doesn’t call for exact quantities nor very specific ingredients. It’s a request from people who don’t usually cook and don’t want to buy stuff they’ll never use again.
Uzbek-inspired cabbage salad
- 1 big carrot (or two smaller ones)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Half a small cabbage (or a third of a huge one, I mean… just watch the video to estimate quantities a and sizes)
- A handful of fresh dill
- 1 orange
- A good drizzle of rapeseed oil (olive oil will do, but then you’ll have a distinct flavor of that, is that what you want?)
- Salt to taste
- Peel the carrot and grate it into a large bowl.
- Press garlic into the bowl
- Add some salt
- Now use your hands to squeeze the grated carrot to get all that juice out. I’ve tried ignoring this step, thinking it will all even out in the end, but the step is actually important. It’s easier to get out those juices in this step, and then make sure the other ingredients are covered in them.
- Chop up the cabbage into very fine strips. Mandolins work great for this, but so do knifeskills.
- Finely chop the fresh dill.
- Combine it all in the bowl.
- Squeeze the juice out of the orange into the bowl.
- Drizzle the oil over it and mix well.
- Put a plate on the salad and push it down with something heavy e.g a mortar.
- Leave for 1 hour.
- Remove the mortar and plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. You’ll feel a very intense smell of garlic and white cabbage. It’s amazingly tasty. The traditional uzbek cabbage salad recipe calls for an apple and sometimes a little sugar. Don’t, the dipping sauce for the chicken will be very sweet. Let’s not only have sweet things on the plate.
Now here’s the thing. I want to show you how to make a base for a sweet and sour dipping sauce that goes great with fried chicken. You can then use pretty much any spice or ingredient you have at home to give the sauce a distinct flavor.
The very basics:
- Soy sauce for the salt
- Sugar for the sweet
- Vinegar for the sour
If you combine those three ingredients in a saucepan on medium-low heat, you’ll have something you can actually use. Add some fresh ginger, and you have a ginger flavored dip. Use ketchup instead of vinegar, and you’ll have a tomato flavor. Att curry, and… you get the point. This is what I had in my refrigerator to make my version:
- 1 tsp of mustard
- 3 tbsp of tomato ketchup (instead of vinegar, but if you use vinegar then 3 tbsp of vinegar)
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp of a good curry powder
- 3 tbsp of Muscovado sugar instead of regular sugar, it has a really nice molasses note to it
- 3 tbsp of soy sauce
- 2 bags of dried vegetables from an instant noodle package (What? Bare with me, you’ll understand in the next step)
- A little oil
- Heat up some oil on medium-low heat
- Add all the powders/spices and let them develop some flavor
- Add all of the other ingredients and bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes
- If the sauce is too thick, add some water.
- Add the 2 bags of dried vegetables from the instant noodle package (What noodle package? Well, bare with me, it’s coming! Keep reading!)
To make the meat juicy, we’ll let it sit in a brine. But before we do anything, you need to learn how to cut up a chicken.
- You need about two packages of instant noodles.
- A whole chicken.
- Oil with a high smoking point (meaning you can heat it up to high temperatures without it starting to smoke and taste burnt)
- A lot of salt, sugar and water for the brine.
Use a sharp knife to cut the chicken into pieces:
- Cut tip of wing tips, and save them for another time when you’re making soup.
- Cut the wings by pulling them away from the chicken, find the join, and cut.
- Spread the thighs, and cut all the way down to the bone. Then bend the thigh out until the bone pops out. Cut right there at the joint.
- Cut the thighs into two right by its joint, and you’ll have a drumstick and a thigh.
- Find the bone that stretches along the middle of the rib cage. Put the sharp knife right next to it and cut along the until you have a breast filet.
- Cut the filet into three.
- Make a soup/broth out of the wing tips and carcass.
There are several types of brine. Either make a slow one by adding 5% salt and 5% sugar into the other 90% of water. Put the chicken pieces in there and wait 24 hours or more. You can just leave it there and forget about it. Or, you can make a quick brine but then you’ll have to be quick.
- Mix 33% salt…
- … with 33% sugar.
- Dissolve in water in a sauce pan over medium heat.
- Let cool.
- Put chicken pieces into the brine, and put it into the refrigerator.
- After 1 hour, take the chicken out of the brine. If you leave it for longer it might just become very salty.
Ok, now for the actual fried chicken…
- Smash up the instant noodles and put them in a clean coffee grinder. Make a fine powder out of them.
- Put your fingers into those noodle bags, and you’ll see two bags. One is a spice bag, and the other one is either a dry vegetables bag or sesame oil. Either case, you can use that bag to flavor your dip sauce (there, that’s what I meant all along, just put it out there) For the spice bag, mix it with the ground noodles. But save a little of the spice for the very end, so you can sprinkle it all over your dish.
- Prepare a bowl of soured milk (fermented) e.g kefir or filmjölk. If you can’t find that, you can use a light runny yoghurt.
- Heat up a lot of oil to 170 degrees Celsius, in a deep frying pan or a big saucepan.
- Dip the chicken pieces first in the fermented milk or yogurt and then into the noodle powder. Make sur to use your fingers, press that powder onto the chicken. It’s ok if there are parts with extra chucks of powder, they’ll be crispy and nice.
- Carefully put the coated chicken into the oil and deep fry it for about 12 minutes.
- Make sure to turn the chicken in half time, it floats so the top won’t cook properly if you just leave it floating there. And make sure you don’t overcrowd your oil, it will cool it and then you won’t have properly cooked chicken.
- Done, crispy and beautiful pieces of deep fried chicken!
Now serve it all, and enjoy!