PHOTO BY R.J HINKLE.

Thai Fried Chicken Sandwich

Served at Katoi in Detroit

1/2 gallon hot water

1/4 cup sugar

5-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

5-1/2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 stalks lemongrass, sliced

6 cloves garlic, halved

2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and sliced

1 bunch cilantro, stems only, plus more for garnish

1/2 tablespoon crushed white peppercorns

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon
kosher salt

4 boneless chicken thighs

2 cups soda water

3 cups plus 3 cups Thai rice flour

2 tablespoons red curry paste

peanut oil

4 brioche buns

Coconut Ranch (recipe follows)

Papaya Salad (recipe follows)

sweet chili garlic sauce

pickled jalapeños

To make the brine, put the hot water, sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, cilantro, peppercorns, and 1/4 cup of the kosher salt in a large bowl and stir to dissolve. Let cool.

When the brine is completely cool, submerge the chicken thighs in the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 to 10 hours. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator 1 hour before frying so the chicken reaches room temperature.

To make the batter, in a
large bowl, whisk together the soda water, 3 cups of rice flour,
1 tablespoon of kosher salt, and the red curry paste.

Pour the remaining 3 cups of rice flour into another large bowl.

When you’re ready to fry the chicken, pour enough peanut oil into a large, deep stockpot so the liquid is 3/4 inches deep. Turn the heat to medium-high. When it reaches 350 degrees, you’re ready to fry.

Dip the chicken into the batter, and then into the dry rice flour. Fry about 7 to 10 minutes, turning once. The internal temperature
of the chicken should reach
165 degrees. Drain the chicken on a paper towel-lined plate

To assemble, generously apply Coconut Ranch to the bun halves. Place the chicken on the bottom half and top with Papaya Salad and a large pinch of cilantro. Season with sweet chili garlic sauce and pickled jalapeños. Use a bamboo skewer to hold sandwich together.

Yield: 4 servings

COCONUT RANCH

1 cup mayonnaise, preferably Japanese

1 cup coconut cream

4 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

1-1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1-1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill

In a bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly, until smooth.

PAPAYA SALAD

1 small clove garlic

2-1/2 tablespoons soft palm sugar

2 red Thai chilies

4 cups shredded green papaya

2 heavy tablespoons fish sauce

4 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons peanuts,
roughly chopped

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

In a terra cotta mortar and pestle, add the garlic clove and pound until it’s broken into small bits. Add the palm sugar and chilies and pound until the chilies are broken up and everything is incorporated into the palm sugar.

Add the papaya, fish sauce, and lime juice to the mortar. Pound just enough to bruise the papaya and release some of its liquid (you don’t want to turn the papaya to mush), and stir until ingredients are mixed well. Adjust to taste.

Stir in the peanuts and tomatoes and lightly pound, just enough to release their juices into the liquid.

Did You Know? Thai rice flour is a finer, lighter flour than other rice flours and makes the fried chicken especially crisp.

From executive chef Brad Greenhill: “We do a fried chicken that’s based on a Thai grilled chicken, taking the flavor profiles associated with that. It serves as a bridge to some of the more unfamiliar dishes on our menu, such as Larb Tod Issan, which is fried pork balls with mint, peanuts, and toasted chilies.”

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