Written by Justine Brooks

Food

I Make the Best… Special Fried Chicken

After a snap poll of Standard Issue staffers, we came to the conclusion everyone has a signature dish they’re willing to brag about. Prepare for your mouth to water thanks to Justine Brooks’ very special fried chicken.

chicken1Name: Justine Brooks

I make the best… Special Fried Chicken

Fuller dish description: This is really a Japanese dish called Toriniku Kara-age, which means ‘Deep Fried Chicken’. It’s chunks of chicken thigh meat marinated in soy sauce, ginger, garlic and spring onion, dusted in cornflour and then deep fried. It’s salty, garlicky, gingery and delicious.

When did you first make it? When I was a teenager my friend’s mum (who is Japanese) used to make it, and I realised then that it was the most delicious chicken on the planet. Later in life when I didn’t see her anymore and wasn’t able to eat her chicken, I started to make it myself.

When did you realise it was the best? (and who has certified it as such?) I renamed it ‘Special Fried Chicken’ for the benefit of my daughter, and I realised it was the best because she asked for it so often and then demolished it with delight. I’ve also discovered that I make it better when I’m happy.

How often do you make it? I generally make it on special occasions because it’s a real faff deep frying anything and because most of it has usually ‘disappeared’ by the time it gets to the table. If, by some miracle, there is any left over, it tastes really good cold. It’s a really popular picnic dish in Japan.

“This is best done in a kitchen where no other people are present because they will steal the pieces of chicken.”

Have you ever tasted anyone else’s version of this, which had you worried? My friend’s mum’s version is probably better, but she lives in London and I live in Yorkshire and I haven’t seen her for years so there’s hopefully not too much opportunity for crossover. I personally feel that it may add to the north-south divide.

Is this the only thing you make well? My success in the kitchen is incredibly hit and miss. If there’s a success, I consider it to be a complete fluke. For example, I recently tried to impress someone by making them a cake; they were polite about it but couldn’t look me in the eye and I knew the moment I tried eating it myself that it was awful. It was so dry, it later took my mother 20 minutes to gnaw her way through a piece, I was very concerned for her teeth. So it may well be that I’m something of a one-trick pony in the kitchen.

Ingredients

1 cup soy sauce
1-2 finely sliced spring onions
2 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 tsp finely minced garlic
1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Sunflower oil for deep frying
1 1/2 cups corn flour
Lemon wedges and parsley if you’re really trying to impress or have forgotten to serve green vegetables.

Method

First put the cornflour in a medium sized dish. Then make the marinade by combining the soy sauce, spring onion, ginger and garlic.

Cut the chicken into 4cm x 3cm pieces. Put the chicken in the marinade. It needs to marinade for 10 minutes tops otherwise it will be tough.

Put the oil into a wok or saucepan and heat it until it bubbles when you add a stray piece of onion to it.

Take the chicken out of the marinade and dump it into the bowl of cornflour. When the oil is hot enough, fish a few bits of chicken out of the cornflour and very carefully (kitchen safety) drop them into the hot oil. If the oil bubbles and foams in a frightening way, turn down the heat.

chicken2Cook, turning the pieces of chicken frequently (with tongs or chopsticks) so they’re evenly done and then after about six minutes, remove them with a slotted spoon and put them onto paper towels to drain off the oil. Repeat in batches until all the chicken is done.

This is best done in a kitchen where no other people are present because they will steal the pieces of chicken. Plus, if no one else is there you can do the same. It’s only fair, you’re doing all the hard work.

Serve the remaining chicken hot with lemon wedges (and parsley).

@JustineFBrooks

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Written by Justine Brooks

Justine lives in beautiful north Leeds with her 12-year-old daughter and a lurcher called Lionel. She runs a PR and marketing agency and is writing a novel.

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