4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
One 3- to 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 4 pieces - 2 legs, 2 breast halves with wings attached (I used 8 drumsticks)
4 cups grapeseed or other neutral cooking oil
Octo Vinaigrette (Recipe follows)
- Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a large container with a lid or a large freezer bag, and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the chicken to the brine, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and no more than 6.
- Set up a steamer on the stove. Drain the chicken and discard the brine. Put the chicken in the steamer basket (if you are using a stacking Chinese-style bamboo steamer, put the legs in the bottom level and the breast on the top). Turn the heat to medium and set the lid of the steamer ever so slightly ajar. Steam the chicken for 40 minutes, then remove it from the steamer and put it on a cooling rack to cool. Chill it in the refrigerator, preferably on the rack, for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you fry it.
- In a deep skillet, heat enough oil for the chicken to be submerged to 375F. Fry the chicken in batches, turning once, until the skin is deep drown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Cut the chicken into a few pieces: cut the wing from the breast, cut the breast in half, cut through the knee to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Put in a large bowl, toss with the vinaigrette, and serve hot.
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 fresh bird's eye-chile, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup usukuchi (light soy sauce)
2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/4 tsp Asian sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
Fresh ground black pepper
- Combine the garlic, ginger, chile, vinegar, soy, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, sugar, and a few turns of black pepper in a lidded container and shake well to mix. This will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days, and is good on everything except ostrich eggs, which is really more the ostrich's fault than the vinaigrette's.