All right Brooklyn, I’ve been reading about your fried chicken frenzy going into 2011, but I’ve got someone I’d like to wager up for a challenge, Bobby Flay Throwdown style. While in Phuket one evening, the DiploMan and I came across a cluster of food vendors, akin to a U.S. farmers’ market set up without the farmers (kettlecorn, pretzels, and apple cider, only). On our way to find dinner anyway, we decided to grab a couple of beers at the 7/11 down the street and plunk down on the curb of the small parking strip, taking turns going back and forth for our “small plates” dinner. What ensued was one of my best meals of the trip.
Certainly the highlight of this hodgepodge meal was the fried chicken. “Meena’s Fried Chicken”, as advertised on the side of the rickshaw cart, employed four people, all with specific duties. There was the fryer, who scooped out chicken cuts from a nearby cooler by the armful to dredge in batter and fry in two large woks, filled with green onion and chili. There was the hacker, who, once the chicken was out of its hot oil bath, took a cleaver to the steaming hot cuts of chicken and with a few solid swoops, hacked each fried hunk of fried goodness into perfect little finger-licking pieces. This hacker would also, between batches of chicken, pack up little bags of sweet-sour-spicy dipping sauce and tie them with a rubber band, all in one fluid motion. There was the packer, who would take the cuts of chicken that you threw at her (indicating that Yes, these are the ones that I want) and pack them in a clear plastic doggy bag lined with paper, along with the sweet-sour-spicy dipping sauce, calculating the amount due as she went. Then of course there was Meena herself, overseeing the process and counting money.
The chicken came out of the fryer in batches according to cuts. First, whole chickens were laid out which, assuming that was the way they did fried chicken, we bought right away. 40baht– just about $1.30! Though the batter sang to us like little crispy juicy salty angels, we were slightly disappointed that the meat was bare and that we had to chew around little chicken livers and hearts. And of course the head, which as in China we’re still not quite sure what to do with, we topped apile of discarded bones in front of us so that it looked like some psycho’s chicken graveyard. However as soon as Meena’s crew was done with the whole chickens, a batch of legs and thighs came out (snatched up too quickly, before I knew I had to pounce on the chickens I wanted), followed by wings and finally, breast cutlets. We tried these all; the wings my favorite (cutlets, B’s favorite), all while sitting on a curb, lips moist with a coating of oil, wishing that all my Brooklyn buddies could get a taste of these.
|staring down on my bag of chicken goodness|