Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spring Chicken aka Sam Mama's Chicken

Super Bowl means finger foods, beer and a whole lot of whoas. For years we have planned elaborate snacks and bought a raft of beers. Munched on pizza with exotic toppings like caramelized onion, pear, blue cheese and mushrooms and Brie. Chewed on wings, Asian style, barbecued and the requisite buffalo style. Nibbled on samosas, tandoori chicken, and chaat. This year we have a mix. Wings, a taco torte from Smitten Kitchen, potato and Gruyere croquettes and some spring chicken.

There is nothing spring-like about this chicken but for the name. My brother Samir fried up these crunchy morsels eons ago, while he was still learning his craft in Bombay. I gobbled them avariciously, loving the delicate soy and fresh cilantro flavor. Growing up, the kids regularly requested Sam Mama's chicken, as they called it.

An overnight marinade in soy sauce, garlic and cilantro tenderizes the meat. Thighs fry up better than breast meat. Deep frying is the way to go. Shallow fry if you must. You might not have the same crusty texture. Follow the recipe and you will have small delicious morsels of a mildly flavored Asian fried chicken. 

Serves 4

1 pound boneless skinless Chicken Thighs 
2 teaspoons Soy sauce
3 tablespoons Garlic paste
1/2 cup Cilantro 
1/2 cup or more Cornstarch
Canola Oil for frying

Wash and pat dry chicken. Chop chicken into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces. Place in a glass bowl.

Chop cilantro finely.

Add soy sauce, garlic paste and cilantro to chicken. Stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight for best results.

When you are ready to fry, heat oil in a wok or deep saucepan. You should have at least 2-3 inches of oil in the pan.

Coat chicken pieces with cornstarch and drop gently into hot oil. Fry 4-5 pieces at a time so as not to crowd the pan. Overcrowding will lower the temperature of the oil resulting in a longer fry and oilier chicken. 

Fry chicken, turning often till crusty,  6-8 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels. Keep chicken warm in a low oven while you fry the rest of the pieces.

Serve chicken warm as an appetizer or an accompaniment to an Asian meal. 

The spectacle of opening ceremonies always pleases. The game begins with patriotic fever in splendid song. We feast at halftime, while cavorting singers belt it out in colorful confusion. We pick at wings, love the taco torte, bite into cheesy potatoes and these chicken nuggets just jump from plate to finger to mouth.