In the not so distant past when all food deliveries were prohibited, many of us discovered our yearning for KFC.
We missed deep fried, crispy poultry. Regarded as comfort food around the world, what is it about fried chicken that hits us right in the feels? Is it some kind of chemical reaction that kick starts a happiness hormone? Seen many a time, as a typically American cultural import, there are indigenous versions of the classic comfort food all around the world.
The American version has made its way to our hearts and bellies. Kentucky Fried Chicken is mostly credited with popularising and globalising the idea of deep fried chicken. However, fried chicken has a rather morbid history of slavery and subsequent racial discrimination against Black people. But there are still some wholesome fried chicken cultures to engage with.
Heavily spiced and marinated overnight, the ‘Ayam Goreng Berempah’ — Spiced Fried Chicken, is a popular street food. However, it is rarely the main event. It is usually served as a side or a topping to Malaysian classic street food like Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice), Mee Goreng (Fried Noodles, Maggi noodles and the basic combo of curry and rice.The chicken is marinated in the complete array of South East Asian flavours including galangal, lemongrass and local curry powder. And the final boom of flavours comes from the deep fried curry leaves. It is found in abundance at Indian Muslim eateries or ‘Mamak’ as they are locally known.
One of the origin stories of fried chicken comes from West Africa, so it is necessary to include an African version in our list. The Ghanian version is double cooked, but not double fried. Not as spicy as it’s Malaysian cousin, this chicken is marinated in a basic, liquidized spice mix. It is deep fried only after being boiled in the spice mix. This ensures even cooking and a crispy skin. It is served with jollof rice.
Although Pakistan is late to the trend, Korean style fried chicken become popular outside South Korea some eight to ten years ago. The idea of frying chicken was introduced by American soldiers during the Korean Wars of the 1950s. The Koreans quickly perfected it, serving it crispier and less oily. The secret lies in the double frying, resting and the precision of the temperatures and timing. The chicken is then seasoned with a dry spice mix or a range of spicy sauces. More recently, deep fried chicken thigh bits are rolled in a potato starch and cheese mix for the ultimate comfort food combination.
No matter which recipe you use, whether you single or double fry, one thing is for certain, this deep fried bird is the world’s comfort food.