Fried Chicken…the crispy, crunchy, all time favorite!

by Chef Ed Dychauco

I AM pretty sure everyone grew up with at least one favorite dish that would be remembered for the rest of their lives. And I am not just talking about any ordinary dish, but one that will evoke childhood memories, be it alone or with family and friends dining together.

Growing up in the city of Manila gave me the lasting memories of having dined at the “old, but still existing” famous restaurants (like Savory Restaurant) that serve, what else? My favorite, as well as your favorite, Fried Chicken!

But even before those restaurants came to our lives, we have been partaking of this easy to prepare, easy to marinate, easy to cook, easy to fry recipe which would always lighten & bring a smile on everyone’s faces!

My mom used to prepare this well-loved specialty during special occasions or on Sundays when we are all gathered together in the dining table. As far as I can remember, it was nothing fancy.

She would just use soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, sugar & calamansi in the marinade. Leaving it overnight in the refrigerator, the aroma of the dish during frying the following day would make us all sit at the dining table, waiting to be served. Coating it to make it extra crispy was a taboo then. And as we grew up, it was always and will be tomato catsup as accompaniment to this brownish, crispy but juicy chicken served with plain steamed rice. No coleslaw, no French fries. Just Fried Chicken!

Somewhere along the way, there were major transformations in this delicious dish. I don’t know who, what or where, it originated but I know it made the chicken taste a lot better (?) Super rich, smooth and “dip me more” gravy also made waves that made the dish more mouth-watering and excitingly good.
Then came these “spicy”, super “crunchy” and all those major adjectives naming & turning this ordinary Fried Chicken into a “gourmet” dish! Done & prepared in numerous & countless ways, and in different parts of the world, Fried Chicken would still be one of the best dishes and ultra best selling cooked item anywhere in the universe! And, this is one that would never fail to take part in the menu of any ordinary restaurant or to any high-end one.

So, what makes your fried chicken different from mine, if I may ask? Okay, let’s try to dissect the marinade first. Of course, this would give that chicken meat the taste from the inside.

Anything from soy sauce & vinegar would already give color and taste, but adding a little sugar, garlic, onions, black pepper and other spices like rosemary, cayenne pepper, tarragon and other spices also gives that distinct taste.

Some would use honey, instead of sugar. Lemon, instead of calamansi. Salt & pepper would do, minus the others. What about those commercially prepared marinade & sauces? There are many variants in the market today. These would actually lessen all the preparation and yet, the flavor of it would still be very special.

What about the Coating? Breading? Using plain bread crumbs will do. But others would opt for all purpose flour, cornstarch, commercially prepared “bread” crumbs, or a mixture of these. Adding a little salt & pepper would also highlight the “crispy” outer covering. There are also several mixes available that would lessen your workload, of course! And for these coating to adhere to the chicken, I would normally dip the pieces in milk, beaten eggs or a mixture of milk & eggs. Plain water will also do the job but make sure you don’t dip the chicken pieces too long!

Gravy! Oozing with that rich, buttery, salty & sometime, spicy thick sauce that goes very well with that chicken, crispy or not.

Who can resist that?

In fact it goes even very well alone with rice. Just top it over rice and voila!

A meal by itself minus the meat parts! Now, again, we have ready made sauces/gravies that are equally good as well. But if making them from scratch is what you want, then why not?

I know I enjoyed chicken tremendously when I was in the United States.

They really have LARGE portions and having just one piece is already enough. But because they don’t serve rice, we have to contend ourselves with English muffins or corn muffins to go with our meal. And this is one of the fastest & easiest meal we could have if we are really in a “feasting” mood.

I remember my friends there, Lani & Diody, who used to “clean-up” my chicken bones until none was left on it! Those were the days!

Nowadays, Fried Chicken can be found anywhere.

Be it in an exclusive gourmet dining restaurant or to those sidewalk vendors. And prices can range from a few pesos to hundreds, depending on the way it is done and the venue where the chicken is enjoyed! And I bet this trend is not going to change for a long, long time!

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