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Serves: 1, ecstatically
FOR THE PINK-PICKLED ONIONS
- ½ red onion
- red wine vinegar or lime juice to cover
FOR THE CHICKEN
- 75 millilitres kefir, buttermilk or plain yogurt
- ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika plus ¼ teaspoon for flour, below
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt plus ¼ teaspoon for flour, below
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 fat clove of garlic
- 1 small chicken thigh fillet
- 50g or 4 – 5 tablespoons plain flour
- Approx. 1½ litres sunflower oil for frying – (for a 22cm / 8in pan, more for a wok)
- 4 x 15ml tablespoons garlic mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Chilli Crisp oil or other chilli sauce
- ¼ teaspoon honey
- 1 burger bun or 2 slices of white bread
- A few leaves of iceberg lettuce shredded
- kimchi or pickles of your choice
- Make your pink-pickled onions as far in advance as you can: at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Cut your red onion half into fine half-moons. Put these into a jar with a lid, or simply into a bowl that you can cover. Pour over red wine vinegar (or lime juice), pressing down on the onions until they are all just immersed. Put the lid on the jar or cover your bowl, and leave the onions to steep.
- Pour the kefir, or buttermilk, or yogurt into a small dish and stir in the ½ teaspoon of hot smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon of salt, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and maple syrup. Peel the garlic and mince or grate it in, too. Give a good stir, then add the chicken thigh fillet and turn it in the marinade to make sure it’s well coated. Cover the dish, then leave for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days in the fridge. (If you simply cannot wait that long, leave the chicken in its marinade out on the kitchen counter for 20–40 minutes.)
- Take the chicken, in its marinade, out of the fridge in good time to get to room temperature before you start to cook it.
- Mix the flour with the remaining ¼ teaspoon each of hot smoked paprika and salt in a shallow dish. Lift the chicken out of the marinade, but don’t try and shake it off. Dredge both sides of the chicken in the seasoned flour, then dip briefly back into the marinade and dredge again. This double-dredging is essential to get a thick, shaggy coating. You can leave the coated chicken in the flour dish until you fry.
- Mix the garlic mayonnaise with the Chilli Crisp oil and honey, and spread both pieces of a split burger bun (or a couple of slices of bread) with it. Put a plate lined with kitchen paper by (but not dangerously near) the hob, if you want to get rid of any excess fat once the chicken’s cooked.
- Pour enough oil into your chosen pan to come about 3½ cm / 1¼ in up the sides. Heat until a small piece of bread becomes golden and crisp almost instantly; if you want to be precise, and have a food thermometer, then you want the fat to be at 190℃/375°F when the chicken goes in (and about 180℃/350°F as it cooks).
- Using tongs, gently lower the chicken thigh into the hot oil, and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side, by which time the coating should be deep gold and very crisp and the chicken completely cooked through. Remove to the waiting paper-lined plate, remembering to take the pan of oil off the heat, and leave to stand for a couple of minutes while you shred some iceberg lettuce and get out your pickles. Put a handful of shredded lettuce on top on the mayo on the bottom slice, top with the fried chicken, add kimchi, pink-pickled onions and any other pickles you want. Scatter with a bit more lettuce and squidge on the top of the bun or second slice of bread. Go in cautiously: I have more than once burned my mouth.