Fried Chicken, Thai Street Style

All right Brook­lyn, I’ve been read­ing about your fried chicken frenzy going into 2011, but I’ve got some­one I’d like to wager up for a chal­lenge, Bobby Flay Throw­down style. While in Phuket one evening, the Diplo­Man and I came across a clus­ter of food ven­dors, akin to a U.S. farm­ers’ mar­ket set up with­out the farm­ers (ket­tlecorn, pret­zels, and apple cider, only). On our way to find din­ner any­way, we decided to grab a cou­ple of beers at the 7/11 down the street and plunk down on the curb of the small park­ing strip, tak­ing turns going back and forth for our “small plates” din­ner. What ensued was one of my best meals of the trip.

Cer­tainly the high­light of this hodge­podge meal was the fried chicken. “Meena’s Fried Chicken”, as adver­tised on the side of the rick­shaw cart, employed four peo­ple, all with spe­cific duties. There was the fryer, who scooped out chicken cuts from a nearby cooler by the arm­ful to dredge in bat­ter and fry in two large woks, filled with green onion and chili. There was the hacker, who, once the chicken was out of its hot oil bath, took a cleaver to the steam­ing hot cuts of chicken and with a few solid swoops, hacked each fried hunk of fried good­ness into per­fect lit­tle finger-licking pieces. This hacker would also, between batches of chicken, pack up lit­tle bags of sweet-sour-spicy dip­ping sauce and tie them with a rub­ber band, all in one fluid motion. There was the packer, who would take the cuts of chicken that you threw at her (indi­cat­ing that Yes, these are the ones that I want) and pack them in a clear plas­tic doggy bag lined with paper, along with the sweet-sour-spicy dip­ping sauce, cal­cu­lat­ing the amount due as she went. Then of course there was Meena her­self, over­see­ing the process and count­ing money.

The chicken came out of the fryer in batches accord­ing to cuts. First, whole chick­ens were laid out which, assum­ing that was the way they did fried chicken, we bought right away. 40baht– just about $1.30! Though the bat­ter sang to us like lit­tle crispy juicy salty angels, we were slightly dis­ap­pointed that the meat was bare and that we had to chew around lit­tle chicken liv­ers and hearts. And of course the head, which as in China we’re still not quite sure what to do with, we topped apile of dis­carded bones in front of us so that it looked like some psycho’s chicken grave­yard. How­ever as soon as Meena’s crew was done with the whole chick­ens, a batch of legs and thighs came out (snatched up too quickly, before I knew I had to pounce on the chick­ens I wanted), fol­lowed by wings and finally, breast cut­lets. We tried these all; the wings my favorite (cut­lets, B’s favorite), all while sit­ting on a curb, lips moist with a coat­ing of oil, wish­ing that all my Brook­lyn bud­dies could get a taste of these.

star­ing down on my bag of chicken goodness
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