I have finally developed the dish deserving of the name "Hot Thai Chicken"! This fried chicken recipe has been simmering in my mind for a long time, and when I finally tested it out, it absolutely blew me away. The perfect mix of sweet, tart, spicy, sticky, crispy and tender...this sweet chili lime sauce would be good even on fried tofu or fish. This one is a must-try!
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- 4 chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut each thigh into 6-7 pieces
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp + ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- Oil for frying
Sweet Chili Lime Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Thai chili paste (nam prik pao, store bought or make your own)
- 4 large Thai dried chilies (see note)
- 1 ½ Tbsp vinegar
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 ½ Tbsp lime juice
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, center rib removed, finely julienned then minced into small pieces (see video for technique)
- Zest of ½ a lime (if you don't have kaffir lime leaves, use zest of 1 whole lime)
Note: You can substitute any other kind of dried red chilies, keeping in mind that the smaller they are, the hotter they tend to be. If you don't want to make it spicy, you can also use 2 tsp paprika powder instead.
Place chicken in a bowl, add the egg, 2 Tbsp of the cornstarch, and salt. Stir until well mixed and let sit while you prepare the sauce.
Cut the dried chilies into chunks. If you want to lessen the heat, remove the seeds by sticking something thin (tip of your scissors or a chopstick) into the cavity of the chilies to loosen the seeds. Grind the chilies into a powder in a coffee/spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
In a small pot, add all sauce ingredients EXCEPT lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, and lime zest. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let simmer for 4-5 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently (it should look too thick right now as we will thin it out later).
Turn off the heat and add the kaffir lime leaves, lime zest and stir to mix; the heat of the sauce will help infuse the lime. Once mixed, stir in lime juice. Keep covered while you fry the chicken.
Heat about 2 inches of frying oil to 375°F (190°C).
While the oil is heating, whisk together all-purpose flour and ¼ cup of cornstarch in a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken all at once, then toss the chicken in the flour until all pieces are well coated, making sure that no pieces are stuck together. If you want a thicker crust, drizzle a little water over the chicken and toss one more time, and the water will help the chicken pick up a little more flour.
To fry: using tongs, grab a piece of chicken and gently shake off loose flour, then place it gently into the hot oil. Fry in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot. After 2 ½ - 3 minutes, the chicken should be golden brown and crispy—remove and drain on paper towel. Repeat until all chicken is fried.
Pour the sauce into a large mixing bowl, add the chicken and with a large spoon, quickly toss the chicken until all the pieces are coated in the sauce. If you start to feel like there isn't enough sauce to coat all pieces thoroughly, scrape the sauce off the sides of the bowl and your spoon, and this will stretch the sauce a bit further.
Serve immediately, on its own or with jasmine rice! Enjoy it, I know you will!