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Monday, October 05, 2009

Seven Secrets for Perfect Thai Fried Chicken Wings

Thai Fried Chicken Wings

Thai Fried Chicken Wings

Who doesn’t like fried chicken? I know it’s something I can’t resist. As a matter of fact, when I was pregnant with my kids, the only thing I ever had cravings for was fried chicken. No, I didn’t crave pickles, and I didn’t crave ice cream. I ONLY wanted fried chicken. And after eating it, I would be so happy and contented.

Thing is, I don’t really like to deep-fry at home. As a matter of fact, I try to stay away from deep-frying as much as I can. I just don’t like how it makes my whole house oily and how much it makes myself oily.

But ok, when I saw this recipe for Thai-marinated fried chicken at Chez Pim’s site, I just could not resist it. The chicken looked so scrumptious, and the flavorings were distinctly Thai but without the spicy bite. And I could just imagine the crunchy snap as you take that first bite into crispy skin. Yum!

Thai Fried Chicken Wings

Thai Fried Chicken Wings

And so even though I normally don’t like to fry at home, I gave in for this Thai fried chicken recipe. And it was worth it. The chicken was amazingly good. The flavors of the fish sauce, oyster sauce, garlic and cilantro made it mad good! Even my son, who is normally a selective eater, made approving noises while chowing down on these fried chicken! “Hmmm…um…this is very good, mommy! Mmm…can I have another one? Mmmm…” With praise like that, how could I not make this again? I actually have made this recipe about three times now since finding it. So much for not liking deep-frying…

But ah, readers, I have found the secret to deep-frying without too much of a mess: Use a deep dutch oven (like my beloved 5-quart Le Creuset oval dutch oven pictured below). You don’t have to fill with too much oil, and the oil stays pretty much contained in the pot.

The Le Creuset heats the oil very evenly leading to a really nice even browning of the chicken. And I find that if you have to fry, smaller parts are easier than big pieces of chicken. Therefore, I recommend frying chicken wings, which cook up faster and more evenly than chicken legs. I tried them both and the next time I made this Thai fried chicken recipe, I used only chicken wings.

The other trick that Pim recommended was to use rice flour in coating the chicken. I’ve also done this when I first discovered this trick while living in Hawaii in the graduate dorm. A Japanese friend was making chicken karaage using mochiko (glutinous rice) flour, and the deep fried chicken pieces were scrumptious—I’ll have to share that recipe sometime soon. The mochiko flour makes the Thai fried chicken crispy and flavorful! Give it a go and tell me how it works for you!

Thai Fried Chicken Wings Recipe

adapted from

2 lbs or 1kg chicken wings (or chicken parts)
4-6 cloves of garlic (if you’re like me, you’d go with 6!), peeled
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro roots (or the bottom stems if you cannot get the roots—I used them both!)

Garlic and Cilantro with Cilantro Roots

Garlic and Cilantro with Cilantro Roots

1/2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher or large grained sea salt (don’t use fine salt)
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
About 2 cups rice flour
enough oil for deep frying

1. In a mortar or food processor, pound or chop the garlic, cilantro roots, and kosher salt into a rough paste.
2. Transfer the paste into a large bowl, add the oyster sauce and fish sauce and stir to mix well.

oyster sauce, fish sauce, ground garlic and cilantro

3. Rinse and dry the chicken pieces thoroughly, then place them into the bowl. Toss and rub the chicken pieces all over with the marinate mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic and let marinade in the fridge for at least 3 hours (I marinated them overnight).

Marinating Thai chicken wings

4. When you are ready to fry the chicken, place your pan over medium-low heat, fill it with enough oil (I used Canola) to cover about 2 inches from the bottom of the pan. Let the oil come up to frying temperature (How do you know the oil is ready? I use the Martin Yan method of placing wooden chopsticks in the pan and waiting for bubbles to form around the chopsticks).
5. Meanwhile, put the 2 cups of rice flour into a large plate (a pie plate works very well for this.) When the oil is ready, take the chicken pieces, one at a time, dredge them with the rice flour. Shake each piece to remove excess flour and place them, gently, into the hot oil. Do this in batches so as not to crowd your pan.

Dredged Thai chicken wings

6. Don’t let the oil get too hot. If the chicken is browning to quickly and you see large bubbles forming around the chicken, lower your heat lest you get half-cooked chicken. It should just be gently bubbling and sizzling in the pan.

Frying Thai chicken wings

7. Fry the chicken until they are golden brown and crisp. If you are using larger pieces, cut into one to make sure they are cooked through. If the juices do not run clear, stick them into a warm oven to finish cooking.
8. To retain their crispiness, here’s a trick I learned from Alton Brown, place the chicken on a rack with paper towels underneath the rack to wick the oil away. If the chicken is placed directly on paper towels, the moisture from the chicken will get trapped in the paper towel and cause the chicken to get soggy. So by putting the paper towels under the rack, the oil still gets wicked away but the space between allows the chicken to stay crisp.

Thai Fried Chicken Wings

Thai Fried Chicken Wings

Enjoy on its own or add a little sweet chilli sauce to add another layer of flavor!

To recap, here are the seven secrets for perfect Thai fried chicken wings:

  1. Use a deep dutch oven
  2. Use smaller pieces of chicken
  3. Dredge the chicken in rice flour instead of regular flour
  4. Test the oil temperature with the bubbling chopstick method
  5. Don’t crowd the pan
  6. Gently cook the chicken
  7. Drain the chicken on a rack over paper towels

Cheers, Annie

Since the cilantro roots were harvested from our garden, we are entering this post in the 37th edition of Grow Your Own, created by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

Hungry for more chicken recipes? Click below:

“Huli Chicken” recipe

Smoked Shoyu Chicken recipe

3 Cups Chicken recipe

Malaysian Chicken Wings: Two Ways

Braised Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic


Christelle said...

These lookm gorgeous, but like you, I hate this oily smell and feel, so I'll reluctantly give it a miss. No window in my kitchen, so I can't even air it after, But they do look amazing..

Where do you live? I'll come and taste them ;) only joking!... :)

Bob said...

Oh, that does looks terrific, I need to try this, and use the marinade for chicken on the kettle as well. Now, cilantro roots...

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

My mum also taught me to use rice flour when fry chicken.Will try out this soon. Thanks for sharing.

Dorach said...

I totally share your sentiment about deep frying at home. Ooh, but I'm so gonna try your tip on using glutinous rice flour. I don't have a dutch oven but do you think it'll work the same deep frying in, say, a stock pot??

Deeba PAB said...

Oh yes, I love these. I'm also an 'anti deep fryer' but something as good as this makes we want to turn the oil on now! The rice flour idea is just super!

Sippity Sup said...

These are spectacular! I am glad to see you back in the kitchen. GREG

stephchows said...

Oh the flavors in these sound amazing!! I would love to give it a try baked too!

Damaris @Kitchen Corners said...

thanks for leaving a nice comment on my blog. This Thai Fried Chicken wings looks AMAZING. FEED ME!

Caitlin said...

These look very crunchy and flavorful! I like them very much : )

Claudia said...

I'm with you on not usually frying, but this sounds very doable. Thanks

Sophia said...

I normally don't like to deep-fry things in my kitchen, too. It's such a bother! But these look perfectly WORTH IT!!!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@all - thanks for your comments!

@Kong-kay - thanks for taking our junk ;-)

@Bob - you can find cilantro with the roots on them at some Asian groceries. If not, just use cilantro stems. Or grow your own - cilantro is very easy to grow!

@Dorach - a stock pot would work - the heavier the better so that it retains heat better.

@Greg - thanks! We're glad to be back as well.

Karine said...

Your fried chicken sounds delicious! thanks for sharing your recipe :)

Anonymous said...

I love everything about this dish! Um, we have a deep fat fryer, with a lid, that maybe gets used a bit more than I would like!

But it does contain the mess! :D

mary kate said...

Thanks for the recipe. I made this yesterday and it turned out great, though I daresay it didn't look as good as in your pictures! The rice flour seems to be a lighter coating than KFC chicken. I have leftovers to look forward to tonight.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@mary kate - that's great! We're going to make some more tonight, but I think there won't be any leftovers ;-)

Janice said...

oh man, I love Fried Chicken! especially Thai Fried Chicken Wings, finger licking spicy good.

gaga said...

Oooh, so tasty! This is way better than regular fried chicken!

Andrea Meyers said...

I really must try this chicken sometime. Like you I avoid frying, but sometimes it's just worth it. The chicken looks so crispy!