So I made me some crispy skin chicken (Chooi Peh Kai)

My First Crispy Skin Chicken (Chooi Peh Kai)

It was a long weekend and I was hankering for some fried chicken. One of this year’s resolution is to do more Chinese cooking to refresh my memories of cooking at home with mom when I was a kid. So I went looking for a easy recipe for Crispy Skin Chicken.

The outcome was a delicious fried chicken with a peppery, lemony and slightly crispy skin. However, while the recipe was very easy, the amount of effort and time that went into this wasn’t really worth it. But it was fun as this was my first time trussing a chicken.

The recipe I found wasn’t very well written and it had vague descriptions like “tie a string around the chicken” which I was pretty sure meant trussing the chicken. The problem was that trussing is usually to maintain the shape of the chicken (or another other form of poultry) for roasting or stewing, not so much for frying. I also did not have a trussing needle, so I had to remember how Jacques Pepin did it on his TV shows.

While I would say I didn’t suck on my first attempt, I can’t help but feel that I may have missed something out.

My First Time Trussing A Chicken

Next step, according to the recipe was to “boil water with honey in a big pot and submerge the chicken in the simmering water for 1-2 minutes”. I have no idea what that is for and I felt rather put out that I have to wait 30 minutes for the honey water to boil so that I could blanch it for a minute. Or two.

Anyway, I “generously rub[bed] salt over the chicken”. This was when I decided that maybe trussing the chicken wasn’t a good idea when the instructions also said to rub the insides with salt, which meant having to cut the “string”. I wasn’t in the mood for this, so I left the insides well alone. Finally, I hung it out to dry “for several hours” in my spanking new pantry which I’ve just installed nice shelves.

My kitchen used to be pine-scented because of the shelves until I hung that bird there for several hours. Now it just smells of salt and dead bird. Dagnabit.

Salting And Drying After A Honey Bath

The recipe also listed “1 Shallot” in its list of ingredients. This had me puzzled because I have no idea what to do with the 1 shallot as there were no instructions. In the end, I diced up 4 shallots, heated up the oil and dropped the shallots in. While it wasn’t part of the recipe, I also added some sesame oil.

Damn bird used up all my peanut oil but I persisted in frying it over a medium flame for about 30-40 minutes, constantly ladling the oil over the bird and flipping (ahaha!) the bird over to ensure an even browning.

For those who don’t know, hot oil is very dangerous. Until the ’70s when the first safe deep-fryers emerged, deep-frying in hot oil were the main cause of kitchen accidents and fires. Go very slow and take your time when handling hot oil.

In Shallot & Sesame Oil

I was rather pleased with the outcome because it was juicy and slightly crispy and contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t oily at all. I cut up the bird in the traditional 8 pieces which was surprisingly easy because the bird practically fell apart without the need for any strong cutting (I could separate the thigh and drumstick from the body by simply pulling them apart). It was served with a squeeze of lemon and a side of Thai Chili Sauce. Yum…

It took a lot of effort to cook this one chicken which I could have simply roasted. I guess I had to find out for myself how it’s done. I still haven’t figured out why the blanch in “honey water” but for now, I think I’ll leave Crispy Skin Chicken to the restaurants to execute.

My First Crispy Skin Chicken

Posted on 4th May 2009 in Food and Drink, Recipes


There Are 7 Comments


keropokman commented on May 4, 2009 at 4:50 pm

I must say you are a VERY VERY patient man!
30-40 mins frying the chook!


ivan commented on May 5, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Well, I guess I have to if I want it to turn out tasty. 🙂


Dee-D commented on May 6, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Hey, y don’t u change yr avatar? u lk so much like a piggy with yr current one… not very good during the current swine flu season


ivan commented on May 6, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Haha! You must have a fever to see that but nah, I kinda like this picture. In fact, people have copied this pose.


Pearlyn commented on June 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm

You are just like me , I always take the trouble to prepare all my dishes from scratch and the result always rewarding… good job !


ivan commented on June 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Thank you. By cooking, I have a better understanding of the time, effort and love that other people put into food.

I find that this makes me appreciate food at a deeper level, and hopefully, makes me a more mindful blogger.


[…] the home-cooking front, this blog made hisself some fried chicken. This blog was introduced to another yummy claypot and in an event totally not associated with the […]

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