Last week on the season premiere of The Taste, my first pick for my team was Don Pullum. The Texas winemaker won me over with his deep-fried oyster with a Thai-based gastrique and jalapeño hot sauce. It was a big mouthful with a bold taste, and the flavors really just called out to me.
Don’s oysters reminded me of my recipe for Coconut Fried Chicken. This dish packs a punch, pulling inspiration from Thai cuisine with coconut milk, curry, and chilies. It’s one of my favorite things to serve at a party—you’ll find that people won’t be able to say no to a heaping plate of this flavorful fried chicken.
For Fried Chicken
1 cup water
1/2 cup brewed coffee
juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon salt
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons peanut oil, plus 4 cups for frying
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 scotch bonnet chilies, chopped with seeds and ribs removed
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup brewed coffee
juice from 2 limes
1 cup water
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups panko
1 tablespoon Chicken Shake (see recipe below)
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
For Chicken Shake
1/8 cup ground garlic
1/2 cup celery salt
1/2 cup ground cumin
1 cup berbere
1 cup smoked spicy paprika
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup ground white pepper
1 teaspoon ground coffee
1. Brine chicken in water, coffee, lemon juice and salt for two hours.
2. While the chicken is brining, make the Chicken Shake: Combine Chicken Shake ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until blended. Set aside.
3. Once the chicken is ready, heat 3 tablespoons peanut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the chicken and brown on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the garlic, chilies and curry paste and sauté until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, buttermilk, brewed coffee, lime juice, 1 cup of water and return the chicken to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until chicken is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. Combine cornstarch, panko and Chicken Shake together.
5. Dip chicken in egg whites then roll it in the panko-cornstarch mix. Coat well.
6. Heat the peanut oil in a large, deep pan to 350° F. Carefully add the chicken pieces and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes total cooking time.
7. Place on paper towel to remove excess oil. Season with salt.