Thai Fried Chicken (with Sweet Chilli Sauce)

Blending together Szechuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, fennel seeds and cinnamon, this Thai fried chicken recipe is delicious alongside sweet chilli sauce.

Spice Trip: The Simple Way to Make Food Exciting
By Stevie Parle & Emma Grazette
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Introduction

This is my twist on everyone’s favourite fried chicken. The spice mix makes it really aromatic and is perfectly offset by the sweet chilli sauce.

Serves 4-6
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
5 star anise
5 cloves
2.5cm (1in) cinnamon stick
1 tbsp anise seeds
¼ tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
150g (5oz) plain flour, seasoned with sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 x 1.5kg (3¼lb) chicken, jointed with backbone and wing tips removed
vegetable oil, for frying
sea salt, to sprinkle
For the sweet chilli sauce:
2 red bird’s-eye chillies, very finely chopped
½ garlic clove, crushed
100ml (3½fl oz) rice wine vinegar
6 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce

Essential kit

You will need a large, deep cast-iron frying pan.

Instructions

Make the chilli sauce first. Place all the sauce ingredients except the fish sauce in a pan, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in the fish sauce and leave to cool.

To make the chicken, toast the Szechuan peppercorns for 1 minute in a dry pan, then combine with the other spices in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Put to one side.

Combine the flour and a quarter of the spice mix in a bowl. Place the eggs in a separate bowl. Scatter the remaining spice mix over a large plate. Roll the chicken joints, one at a time, in the spice mix, then dip them in the beaten egg and then in the flour. Shake off any excess flour.

In a large, deep cast-iron frying pan, add enough oil to come about one-third up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to about 180°C (test by adding a cube of bread; if it sizzles and turns golden in 30 seconds, the oil is hot enough).

Carefully fry the chicken in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Turn the meat over once the underside is golden. When the chicken is cooked through and perfectly juicy with an all-over golden, crunchy crust, it’s done. Be aware that the breast will cook quicker, so you might need to leave the dark meat in for a moment longer. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle over a little sea salt, and serve with the chilli sauce.

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