The love of chicken is one few things that unites the majority of the planet’s population. So total is our adoration of the little cluckers that cultures the world over have independently developed their own preferred methods of preparation and consumption. Here’s our thoughts on the dishes that have really perfected fried chicken cookery.
Fried chicken is adored across Asia, and Japan is no exception. The country has an almost unhealthy KFC obsession, but has also perfected its own signature techniques. Chief among these is karaage. Karaage involves marinating either chicken or vegetables in a soy sauce based liquid, before coating in a potato starch batter. The result is a crunchy, moist mouthful that can rival chicken from anywhere in the world.
2. Southern Fried Chicken
It’s impossible to have a conversation about fried chicken without mentioning America. The USA practically wrote the book on deep fried cookery, and their chicken is a stellar example. Whilst you could fill an encyclopedia with the many regional variables that span the country, arguably the most universally hailed is the southern fried variety. Made popular by chains such as KFC, southern fried chicken is coated in a flexible spice blend that typically includes garlic powder, paprika, pepper and cayenne, among a host of other herbs and seasonings. Often imitated, rarely bettered, America undeniably makes some damn fine chicken.
3. Har Cheong Gai
A favourite of the Hawker food stalls of Singapore, Har Cheong Gai is rarely found outside of Asia. The key to this traditional treasure is in the marinade, which gives the dish a completely unique taste. Made from fermented shrimp paste, it may sound unappetising, but the coating contributes to a richness and depth of flavour that you don’t get with any other chicken. In the right hands, Har Cheong Gai is worth the trip to Singapore on its own.
What makes Korean fried chicken so unique is the cooking method. In order to make the bird extra crispy, portions are double, sometimes even triple fried. Chikin, as it is known locally, has its origins in the Korean War, and owes much to American influence. However, the refined method and modern approach of giving the chicken a thin, crackly crust, have subsequently helped put today’s Korean Fried Chicken in a class of its own.
5. Chicken 65
While many countries specialise in spicy food, there is no nation that has mastered the art quite like India. These spice maestros have also applied their skills to fried chicken. Chicken 65 is a heady, at times lethal combination of chillies and spices from the city of Chennai. Potent, but undeniably delicious, the dish is the perfect example of how fried chicken can slot itself seamlessly into a nation’s culinary culture and identity.
6. Peppered Chicken
America would not have fried chicken, were it not for the African impact on their culture and cooking. No dish exemplifies Africa’s mastery of the bird better than peppered chicken from Nigeria. Unlike other fried chicken dishes, what makes peppered chicken so exceptional is the essential addition of a rich tomato and pepper sauce. The chicken is first deep fried for crispness, and then stirred in the sauce for flavour. It is this unique combination that makes peppered chicken a deserving addition to the fried chicken hall of fame.
Fried chicken’s global popularity means that there are hundreds of recipes that each show off a different facet of this flexible and appealing ingredient. But, if you do feel tempted to try something a little more daring than a KFC Boneless Bucket, we recommend that you give one of these dishes a go. All sorts of joyous chickeny surprises await.