I remember when I was little, call it "small kid time" as many of my friends would say. We didn't have much(and many times no) money, barely enough for survival. So eating out was a real treat; just having Chinese take-out was a something saved for Birthdays, and other "special" occasions. One of my favorite memories was splurging for the fried chicken from the now defunct Woolworth's(aka F.W. Woolworth's). It may have just been a thigh or drumstick, but when you bit into that wonderfully juicy chicken, it was like you've just had your own little piece of heaven. Woolworth's you may ask....I know it sounds strange, but I faintly remember something along the lines of "You do the pickin' when you buy chicken at Woolworth's"? Of course time marches on, and Woolworth's became sort of an after thought....until I heard that Woolworth's was closing down, at which time I marched myself down to Woolworth's to grab that one last piece, and it was terrible, icky, tasting like that Banquet frozen stuff you reheat. Which made me wonder, had the food quality and recipe deteriorated so much over the years, or had my tastes and preferences changed? I think it was probably a little of both. I had sort of the same dilemma a few years back, albeit not to the same extent when I tried the Chicken Alice recipe. As with all things...time and taste move on. So what does this have to do with some Asian fusion-ny chicken cutlets?
More than a few years ago, there was a series on the Discovery Channel called Great Chef's of the World which I used to make a point to watch every chance I had. I really enjoyed that series, and I guess it's still shown....but I haven't run into it in a few years. One of the fun parts was watching all the "local" chefs from Hawaii, like Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, et al cooking up some really interesting stuff. During one segment I saw this recipe, it was called Crispy Thai-style Chicken, and seemed like something even I could pull off, which I managed to do pretty successfully. For some reason, I hadn't made this since we moved to San Diego, now almost 7 years ago. So when the recipe recently reared it's head in the mass of confusion called my Grey matter, I thought it would be an interesting study of just how much our tastes have changed.
As I started making the marinade, I noticed something right away.....it smelled really mild, so I decided to use a whole bulb of garlic, and double up the amount of fish sauce. The dressing needed a bit more zip so I added some chopped onions.
Thai Style Chicken Cutlets
2 stalks lemongrass finely minced
1 bulb garlic minced
1 Tb grated ginger
4 Tb Thai Fish Sauce
6 stalks green onions(white parts included)finely chopped
2-3 Tb cilantro minced
1/2 Mochiko(sweet rice flour)
2 Tb cornstarch
1 tsp Salt
2 Egg whites
1 Cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 Cup sugar
1/3 Cup water
1/3 Cup Thai Fish Sauce
1/2 onion, minced
2-3(or more) Tb chili paste
- Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Add the chicken, make sure all pieces are well coated
- Marinate over night
- Heat about 1/3-1/2" oil in a saute pan
- Fry chicken cutlets, 5-8 minutes each side, until the chicken is completely cooked
- Combine dressing items, and mix until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove chicken from oil, drain, plate, and drizzle a few tablespoons(or more) over chicken. Use the remainder as a dressing for a green salad.
After frying up the chicken, I thought it looked as good, or better than what I made before....all those years of chicken katsu had paid off! The chicken was very moist and tender. However......man did it taste really mild to us, even with a ton of the dressing. The Missus agreed, it seems our tastes have changed sharply over the last 7-8 years. Nothing was more telling than when I turned to the Missus and said; "you know, I'd take a marinade with Vietnamese fish sauce, a batch of Nuoc Mam Cham, like we had a Beach's for a "dressing", I'm sure Wandering Chopsticks must have a recipe, along with a good amount of "Bun"(Rice Vermicelli), and some really fresh herbs along with the greens in the salad....and it would be Vietnamese style Chicken Cutlets......
Since a good friend of mine has called my mind a "cesspool of useless information" here's another one for you...."don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delight!!!"
Hope you're having a nice weekend!