Frying things in the comfort of your own home, where you can smell the grease wafting through the air for days, if not weeks? Even if you’re fortunate enough to have an air-fryer, the taste of deep-fried deliciousness is simply not the same. I know. So what can AU students do to satisfy that intense craving of fried comfort-food? Enter: The Not-So-Starving student’s guide on frying that wastes less volumes of oil, doesn’t stink up your dorm or living room and maximizes taste all at the same time. How is it done? Follow these steps to create simple fried chicken (other proteins, including beef and pork, can also be used).
Start by cutting your favorite protein-to-be-fried into edible, thin slices. The key to frying with less oil is to carve thin slices of protein so the meat is easily cooked. The best part of using this frying technique is that your protein will come out tender with a light crispy shell.
Once your protein has been carved and prepared, set them aside in a bowl while you create the right marinade. This process is quite flexible as it depends on your taste preferences. For me, I tried creating five-spice seasoning, an amalgam of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and szechuan peppercorn. The powder is so fragrant and complex in flavor that I rarely need to add anything else besides soy sauce and salt. Other marinade ideas include:
- Honey Garlic fried chicken
- Cajun fried chicken
- Lime-cilantro fried chicken
- Hot mustard fried chicken
Once the marinade is ready to be mixed, thoroughly massage it into the protein with your bare hands. Using your bare hands has the advantage of allowing the spice to absorb consistently. Hence, no piece of protein left behind! The key to remember is that the longer the meat soaks in the seasoning, the better your final product will taste. Personally, I leave the contents in the fridge for two hours before cooking.
The highlight of the frying process comes next where the chef gets messy and creative. Start by preparing a tray of one or two beaten eggs (depending on the serving size) and a second tray filled with one cup of wheat or tapioca flour. I personally use tapioca flour as it gives the fried chicken a golden glow (as seen on commercials!). When you’re ready, dip the fresh chicken first in the tray of beaten eggs and next into the wheat flour. The technique here is important. Grip two corners of the chicken and coat both sides with egg before proceeding with the wheat flour. The eggs will serve as your adhesive that grips the flour more easily.
Finally, after the coating process, you are finally ready to let your chicken sizzle. Despite frying with reduced oil content, it’s still critical to turn your hood fan on to reduce the air pollution that will ensue. Once having made this rookie mistake, I had to redo my entire closet-worth of laundries due to scent contamination. Remember, no amount of perfume or cologne will save you by that point, so prepare early. Once the hood fan is turned to high, liberally coat your frying pan with vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium.
As simple as it sounds, frying is a task that should be meticulously conducted. For one, the temperature of the oil affects the final product’s appearance, taste and texture. To simplify this process, I set a timer for two minutes before placing my coated chicken into the pan. The oil should be at just the right temperature where a gentle sizzle will be heard without there being a massive nuclear explosion in the kitchen. For first-timers, setting your stove to the high setting for two minutes will create a drastic explosion of oil and chicken leaving the individual with unhappy memories.
Finally, when the outer coating turns golden as shown below, your chicken is ready to serve! But before you jump out of your seats, make sure to drain the chicken of excess oil with a napkin covered plate. Not only does this help your product look top-chef quality, it will also help the coating taste lighter and crispier.