Edible Berkshires

Southern-Thai-Style “Had Yai” Fried Chicken


Had Yai (or Hat Yai) is the largest city in southern Thailand.
Famous for its street food, especially “Chicken Had.”

By Chef Jem Ezinga of Thai Food by Jem

1 (4½–5 pound) whole chicken (chef uses chicken from Climbing Tree Farm, New Lebanon, NY)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 bulbs garlic
4 shallots
½–1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt, to taste
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 quart high-heat oil for frying, such as safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, sesame or peanut oil.
1 cup flour

  1. Cut chicken into 8 pieces, trimming excess fat. You may also purchase a precut chicken or ask the butcher to cut it up for you. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. Place cut pieces in a sealable 1-gallon storage bag.
  2. Place coriander in a small dry sauté pan over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking pan a few times until the seeds are fragrant.
  3. Place coriander and next 3 ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine, or place in the bowl of a mortar and grind with pestle. Add white pepper. Remove paste with spatula and rub on reserved chicken pieces. Add vinegar to bag, seal and flip bag to evenly coat as best as possible. Store bag in refrigerator a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oil to 350°F in saucepan, fry pan, wok or home basket fryer. Coat chicken pieces with flour, lower into fry oil in 1 layer; do not crowd.
  5. Fry until edges are turning a light brown, 7–8 minutes. Turn over pieces and the bottom should reveal a deep golden brown color. Continue frying about 6–7 minutes to equally brown. Fry times will vary depending on the size of the pieces of chicken and your control of the oil temperature. A candy thermometer will help if you are frying in a pan or wok.
  6. Remove chicken to paper towels over newspaper to drain or a cooling rack with paper underneath to catch drippings. Serve with cucumber salad and dipping sauce (see accompanying recipes) and with white or sticky rice.