While the fried chicken is usually associated with Americans, the world has adapted this style of cooking chicken in their own ways.
The first name that pops up in most heads when we think of fried chicken is KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken. The oh-so-popular fast food chain from the US has definitely succeeded in putting fried chicken on the global map with franchises and outlets opened up across nations. The marketing of this fast food brand lures customers by telling them that they use a secret recipe for their high-selling fried chicken. This makes most of us wonder what’s so special about this fried chicken and we head to the restaurant to try it. It was Colonel Sanders, the founder of this global food chain that can be credited with bringing the traditional African-American cooking to the Southern US.
Yes, if you noticed we just mentioned African-Americans in the context of fried chicken. It was these people who were employed to keep chickens and breed them. The enslaved classes were expected to feed the chickens and then prepare them for the enslavers. Until the World War II, fried chicken was considered to be a luxury item because the particular kinds of chicken (spring chicken) required for this dish were available only from spring to autumn and the process of preparing fried chicken was quite time-consuming. Due to this, the fried chicken was an occasional affair, to be served on special days only.
The same fried chicken that was a special festive treat gradually became the reason for bringing together people of different communities. Since most restaurants were shut for Blacks and racism was at its peak, it was this dish that brought people closer to each other. The fried chicken did not require any refrigeration and was easy to store. The period of 17th-19th century when the Africans were under Scottish slavery, they adapted the fried chicken to their own culture, so much so that by the end of 19th century, it empowered the enslaved economically.
The trains that went to and fro on the two rail lines during the Civil War period in US made a pit stop at Gordonsville. Since there were no dining facilities in the trains back then, the African-American women provided fried chicken as a way to satiate hunger of the travelers on the way. That’s how the taste of fried chicken started spreading to the South.
After all this, it may seem that the only plausible thing to believe is that fried chicken came from Southern US. While we cannot deny the fact that it was popularized in the rest of the world by them, the origins of this dish can be traced back to the time when the Scottish settled in America. At a time when US was colonized, it was the Scottish who were frying their chicken in hog fat. This technique was later brought by them to the US.
The African-Americans made it their own by coating it in a batter and deep-frying it. Finally, it reached the Southern parts of US where food chains like KFC devised quicker ways to mass-produce this chicken dish. Since then, the fried chicken has been selling like hot cakes around the globe.
From Korea to Japan, everyone has come up with their own fried chicken variations. Here are some of them.
1. Nashville Fried Chicken
The fiery Nashville fried chicken is sure to turn up the heat-o-meter. Coated in a buttermilk marinade, the chicken is fried until golden brown and served with a hot sauce. This one is definitely high on calories and infused with lots of chilli oil so beware before you dig in.
2. Korean Fried Chicken
Traditionally known as dakgangjeong, the specialty of this Korean fried chicken lies in the use of a sweet and spicy sauce in which the chicken is coated. The chicken, covered in a chilli paste that has been sweetened, is fried twice before serving. This technique is unique to Koreans.
3. Japanese Fried Chicken
This one is slightly different from the popular Southern-style fried chicken as the chicken is cut into bite-sized pieces which are smaller than usual. The marinade of soy sauce, ginger and sake infuses the chicken with some mind-blowing flavours and then deep-fried to the core. This Japanese style fried chicken is also known as karaage.
4. Senegalese Chicken Yassa
The Senegal chicken recipe is far from what you’ve been imagining fried chicken to be. This one is a traditional way of cooking chicken which has been followed since the 19th century. They have a distinct way of cooking that distinguishes them from the Southern style. This West African dish is marinated in hot pepper, garlic, onions and lemon juice and lightly fried. The chicken is dunked in a hot sauce that is seasoned with a variety of spices and kept in it for a longer duration to attain all the flavours.