Cooking With Kaya (kind of) Episode 2: FRIED CHICKEN!!!

Fried chicken faces in effect.

Time flies.  The older I get, the more that’s true. It’s been over half a year since the last post, which I’ll admit is kind of standard for me (which might explain the fact that this blog has a readership of about 6.3 people).  More hard to believe, it’s been almost a decade since I started this here food blog. In that time – the posts in this blog provide documentation – Shefali and I got married, had a kid, moved from Brooklyn to Oakland, had another kid and well, continue to just live our rather ordinary lives.  One of those markers of ordinary life came couple weeks ago when Kaya started kindergarten. But before her official start,  she and I had an opportunity to hang out – quality time, just father and daughter.  So I thought, what better way to spend time together bonding then making another food video?!  Genius, right?!  Kaya, was maybe a little less enthusiastic.  I mean I’ve been subjecting her to these vids since she was a fat little baby (when we both looked a lot younger).  So, she wasn’t really feeling it, having her own thoughts and all, but I’m her dad and I can still make her do stuff, so that’s cool.  You’ll see in the video.

In any case, I wanted to make something that despite the passage of time has remained a constant in my life: fried chicken. I. Love. Fried. Chicken. It’s got to be up there in my top 5 of all time favorite foods. I will never turn down a piece of fried chicken.  It has been there for me, always. For example, when I was maybe five or six and my mom accidentally chopped the tip of her middle finger off with a cleaver when she was cutting up a roast duck. Now, I actually look back on that episode with fondness  because 1) well, it wasn’t my finger and I was napping when it happened and 2) because while my mom and my dad rushed to the emergency, finger tip packed in a cup of ice so doctors could sew it back on, my aunt and uncle took me and my sister to Kentucky Fried Chicken (before it was rebranded as KFC) where we feasted on salty, greasy goodness. Later when I was a teenager and my parents had a night out, they’d let me eat whatever I wanted and I always got a box of frozen Banquet Fried Chicken (spicy) and I’d polish off about three or four pieces in a sitting.  As an adult, I’ve been fortunate to have my horizons expanded – at least when it comes to fried chicken. From southern style (American) fried chicken to to Japanese karaage chicken, I’ve made room for all of them in my heart and stomach.  I’d say pretty much everybody around the world loves fried chicken and everybody does a version of it. In my  humble opinion, it’s all good. I’m a globalist. I admit it.

I found this vendor in a bus stop in Antigua, Guatemala.

I found this fried chicken in a market in Pai, Northern Thailand. I tried to have at least one piece of fried chicken a day there, often for breakfast.

I’m happy to say that love for chicken that is fried has been passed on to my daughter. Nature? Nurture?  Does the fried chicken come before the fried egg or vice versa? These are deep questions, I know. Welcome to my life. But I digress. One of my favorite versions is Thai style fried chicken. It’s got a lighter skin (rice flour instead of wheat flour) and the meat is often marinated beforehand (basically, brining does the same thing) so that the meat has a lot of flavor as opposed to just the skin or batter (don’t get me wrong, I love that too).  It’s also reminiscent of the fried chicken my dad used to make for us when we were kids and he was getting really into cooking.  He used bread crumbs for his coating though. Anyway this is the version I decided to make with Kaya.

Here’s the Ingredient list (amounts are approximates, as usual).

Marinade Ingredients
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup fish sauce
3-5 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of ginger
3-4 tbsp of lemongrass
bunch of cilantro
2 1/2 tbsp of sugar

5 lbs of chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs) – you can also use little wings and drumettes)
rice flour to coat chicken pieces
oil to fry

And here’s the all important video for how we do it. Watch, learn and enjoy.

 

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The Perfect Pad Thai? Quite Possibly.

About a month ago Shefali, Kaya, and I had the pleasure of spending almost twenty hours on two planes (with one layover) to travel 8,651 miles to Bangkok, exactly twelve hours ahead (timewise), where we would spend four short days before another two and a half hour flight (on one plane) to Hong Kong for another four short days. Then we came home. End of story. Actually no. We went to Bangkok and Hong Kong to spend our winter break with Shefali’s family in Bangkok and my family in Hong Kong. But more on that in a future (possible) post wherein I just talk about all the “first” foods that Kaya ate. Yeah, I’m that dad.

This post is about pad thai, specifically the pad thai found at Luang Pha Pad Thai restaurant in Bangkok. You know, that place on Maha Chai Road, a stone’s throw from the Wat Saket? Yeah that one. Ok, to be honest, we had some insider knowledge. Shefali’s sister  (not Thai) and her husband (Thai) told us about this place a year and a half ago when we visited them. And boy were we appreciative.  The flavor of that pad thai and the simple but elegant way it was prepared were etched into my memory. Plus I took lots of photos.

Shef wants this pad thai and bad... This is from our first trip to Luang Pha.

Shef wants this pad thai and bad… This is from our first trip to Luang Pha.

This small woman is a giant among cooks

This small woman is a giant among cooks

But seriously, watching this diminutive woman wielding this massive wok reminded me of what a pleasure it is to watch someone who is really good at what they do.   Each  gesture and motion is effortless, the perfect expression of thought into action. There is no wasted effort – efficiency epitomized.  Or, maybe it’s because this is her job and she does it everyday. In any case, the results are ridiculously good.  So, this past trip, Shefali and I brought her mom and her sis (and of course Kaya) along to experience quite possibly the perfect pad thai.  Please enjoy some photos and be sure to watch the video above which shows this awesome cook in action.  You might even learn how to cook some real pad thai.  Though good luck finding the shrimp fat oil…

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C’s Hot Wings!

My attempt at plating. Anyway, you get the idea. Wings and drumettes with sauce.

Alright, I meant to put this up before the Super Bowl, but I got waylaid by Chinese New Year’s festivities (stay tuned for a future posting).  So football season is now officially over.  But really, who needs to watch grown men running around in skin tight pants, head butting each other in order to enjoy spicy and delicious chicken wings?  I, for one, do not.  And neither should you.  It’s always the right time for hot wings.

Here’s the recipe (as usual, quantities are suggested):

Ingredients:
8 oz chipotle peppers in adobo (or from 1/2 cup to 3/4 – depending on how spicy you want it)
2 – 3 tsp to of fish sauce
1-2 tsp of vinegar
1 tbsp of ginger
1-2 tsp of garlic
2-3 tbsp of plain yogurt
2 1/2 lbs of chicken wings

Here’s how you do it:

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