Hat yai fried chicken recipe with an irresistible crispy crust embracing the juiciest, most tender meat you've ever tasted. This easy recipe is full of flavor, with an authentic marinade made of palm sugar, fish sauce, salt, and a selection of traditional Thai ingredients.
Hat yai fried chicken is a popular Southern Thai dish beloved for its crispy outer layer with tender marinated meat, often paired with sticky rice and a dipping sauce. With a fragrant blend of herbs and spices, it's a popular street food favorite in Hat Yai.
What makes this crispy fried chicken recipe stand out from others? A light and crispy crust that's simply irresistible, a topping of fried shallots, and a delicious blend of Thai spices.
One of the secret ingredients is tempura flour, in which the chicken pieces are coated before frying. It's a type of crispy flour that creates a crunchy outer layer while keeping the chicken inside tender, flavorful, and juicy.
The love for Southern-style crispy chicken has crossed borders. From the busy streets of Bangkok to the food markets of the mountainous North, you'll encounter it wherever you travel in Thailand. That's right, Thai people absolutely love this style of fried chicken. And my little nephew, he even rated this recipe a whopping million out of ten!
The other secret ingredients to this delicious Southern Thai fried chicken recipe? It's all in the delicious marinade and the topping of crispy fried shallots.
Many fried chicken recipes stick to a basic seasoning of salt and pepper, but this Thai recipe takes a step forward.
Before the chicken meets the sizzling oil, it's marinated in a blend of herbs and spices.
Thai families have their unique spice secrets, and that's the beauty of Thai cuisine. Thai food is all about finding that perfect flavor balance, it's an art of cooking as you go until you reach that point of 'This is it!'.
For me, a blend of pounded coriander seeds, coriander root, cumin, and black peppercorns are the perfect foundation. I add some garlic, salt, fish sauce, and palm sugar for a balance of savory and sweet.
Rather than dominating the chicken flavor, this marinade complements the chicken's natural taste, and pairs perfectly with the crisp golden crust.
Typical for making hat yai fried chicken is garnishing it with crispy fried shallots. Without it, you can hardly call it hat yai chicken.
They bring a subtle crunch and a sweet aroma that goes well with the crispy chicken.
Simply sprinkle them over your final dish, and let them work their magic!
Before crispy frying, place sliced shallots onto paper towel and season them with salt.
This brings out their natural flavors and draws some of the moisture from the shallots, since the moisture can hinder the crisping process when frying.
Let them rest for a short while, and then dab them with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This ensures even browning and crisping.
Alternatively, you can sun-dry the shallots. Keep in mind that it requires more time and you need consistent sunlight. The end result will not be as crispy, but it's a healthier alternative.
For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
You can source most ingredients for this recipe at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
Ice-cold water is added to the marinade: This helps to tenderize the chicken, and carries the flavors of the marinade deeper into the meat. Using cold water in the chicken marinade is a traditional Thai method, passed down for generations.
Don't overcrowd your frying pan: Work in small batches to maintain a good oil temperature (350°F to 375°F or 175°C to 190°C in a frying pan) to ensure golden brown and crispy chicken.
For juicy and tender chicken: After frying, let the chicken rest on a wire rack to drain excess oil. While resting, the juices will have time to redistribute, which makes it more juicy.
For fast and even cooking: Making two slices around the bone of the chicken ensures even and faster cooking, plus the marinade can penetrate deeper into the meat.
Cool down before frying: Before frying the chicken, let the cold meat cool down to for 30 minutes, or longer if needed. This tip helps the chicken to cook quicker.
Marinate overnight: For the best flavor, marinate overnight or for a long time. This way, the flavors can penetrate the meat.
This Southern Thai chicken is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, as a side, or as a main with Thai sticky rice. Pair it with one of my many dipping sauces like Thai sweet chili sauce and Thai dipping sauce for chicken.
Don't forget your garnishes: Top your fried chicken with crispy fried shallots and add a sprinkle of cilantro or freshly chopped green onions.
Storing fried chicken can cause it to lose its crunch. Follow these tips to keep it tasty:
How to reheat fried chicken:
Hat yai fried chicken can be found at numerous Thai street food markets, especially in Southern Thailand. To me, this dish is a symbol of our street food culture, showcasing how local ingredients can lead to flavorful creations.
This type of Thai fried chicken originated in Hat Yai, the largest city in southern Thailand with a mixture of cultures. It's also a major travel hub, connecting Thailand to Malaysia and Singapore
How to store fried shallots?
What oil is best for frying chicken?
Is this recipe gluten-free?
Hat yai fried chicken has an irresistible thin, crispy crust and a well-balanced flavor profile, making it an ideal dish for the whole family.
Thinly slice the shallots into even-sized pieces. Lay them out on a paper towel and sprinkle with some salt. This helps extract moisture. After 10 minutes, gently pat the shallots with another paper towel to remove excess moisture. Then, heat up oil in a pan, and fry the shallots until golden and crispy. Place them on a paper towel to let excess oil drain. We’ll fry the chicken in that same oil to infuse it with shallot flavor.
Toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns until fragrant or 20 seconds. Use a stone mortar and pestle to pound garlic, coriander seeds, coriander root, cumin seeds, and black peppercorns.
Transfer the spice mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add palm sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Tip: Use a mixing glove to blend the ingredients. Add tempura flour into the bowl, and slowly add ice-cold water while constantly kneading with your hand until you reach a sauce.
If you use chicken legs, make two slices around the bone. Add the chicken to the marinade and thoroughly coat each piece with the marinade sauce. Transfer to your refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight.
Deep-fry the chicken in the same oil as the shallots until golden brown and cooked through, flipping as needed. Heat your oil to 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). Flip occasionally. Check doneness with a thermometer; then drain on a rack or paper towels and let rest before serving.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.