Notes on Fried Chicken

To the casual connoisseur of fast-food fried chicken, the Holy Grail is KFC: Col. Harland Sanders’ mix of 11 secret herbs and spices, gravy, and a side of fries.  Yet Chinatown cravings can get you out of your usual Fun Shot-induced stupor at an American-branded fast-food chain.  Off you go to the trains, the pedicabs, the walking tour of Ongpin’s side-streets to the tune of brass chimes, the sight of ba gua and jade charms glittering by the sidewalks, and the smell of siopao. When it comes to fried chicken, the virtue is Sincerity.

No sauces, no sidings (save for rice and a helping of oyster cake); just the joy of five-spice, batter, and yumminess.  I’m sure that it is served in the same way as its Peking predecessor: a pile of chicken on a plate, condiments not necessary.  It’s just sincere joy, from the hand to the mouth, from the stomach to the heart.  Washed down with a mouthful of iced tea, and you wonder why the place closes at 2 PM on a Sunday.

No more KFC for me, at least.  It’s a shame that they had to close Church’s Chicken at Mall of Asia.

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Mother’s philosophy of fried chicken runs contrary to fast-food rules of the dish; her version is almost always never dredged in flour, or coated in batter, and certainly none of those powdered breading mixes that are an abomination and a course to damnation for one’s pantry.  To my mom, it’s as simple as salting the chicken, and frying it just as it is.  I do not know if it’s a miracle of motherly cooking or what, but nobody ever fetches for ketchup or sarsa or condiments, but the flavor comes across very well, that you really are eating chicken; not fried muscle fibers coated in ketchup.  After I realized she used lard she saves up every time she cooks, I made my own version of the classic:

  • Mix a bit of calamansi juice, light soy sauce, and chili paste together to form a runny, translucent mixture.
  • Coat the chicken pieces in it until the marinade just seeps through.
  • Fry the chicken in lard you probably used twice (make sure the oil doesn’t taste insipid).
  • Serve and enjoy.

That cancels McDonald’s off my options.

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In many ways, I have eliminated two options from my long list of fried chicken places: Shakey’s has yet to fail me.  Yet the kanto fried chicken of the Guadalupe market cannot – and certainly will not – fail to whet the appetites of those who find Jollibee too seasoned, or McDonald’s too crusty.  Reasonable at P20 or P30, depending on the part of the chicken, or P10 for necks or balls of chicken fat and pope’s noses fried in oil.

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