Deep-fried chicken, or gai tod, is something of an obsession in Thailand. Sold from street carts, the chicken pieces – often wings or small drumsticks – are marinated in a mixture of spices and aromatics, and then dredged in rice flour, which lends an extra crispness, before being fried. This recipe is inspired by a dish from much-loved Sydney restaurant Chat Thai. After being fried, the gai tod is wok-tossed in a sauce of nahm prik pao, or Thai chilli paste. For ease, we’ve used chicken thigh pieces here.
- 6 chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into wide strips
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander root, plus extra coriander sprigs, to serve
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 120 g (⅔) cup rice flour
- vegetable oil, to shallow-fry, plus extra 60 ml (¼ cup)
- 1 tbsp nahm prik pao (Thai chilli paste in soybean oil) (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 2 hours
Place chicken in a bowl with garlic, coriander root, pepper, fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of caster sugar, chilli powder and 1 tsp salt and mix to coat chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Place rice flour in a shallow bowl. Coat chicken pieces in flour, shaking to remove excess. Fill a large saucepan or deep-fryer one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180ºC (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in batches, place chicken in oil and cook for 3 minutes or until golden. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Place remaining 60 ml of oil in a wok or saucepan over medium heat, add nahm prik pao and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir to combine and dissolve sugar. Add chicken and cook, stirring gently, for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and lightly caramelised. Serve with rice, coriander sprigs and chilli sauce.
• Nahm prik pao (Thai chilli paste in soybean oil) is available from Asian food shops.
Photography by Brett Stevens. Food preparation by Phoebe Wood. Styling by Vivien Walsh.
As seen in Feast magazine, June 2014, Issue 32. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.