Chef Vongerichten sells 60 orders a day of this supermoist Hong Kong-style chicken. One of the reasons it's so good is that the chicken is fried whole in a wok, yet it doesn't taste remotely oily. The other reason is that the chicken is rubbed with aromatic five-spice powder and salt four hours before being basted with a vinegar and brown sugar syrup, then marinated overnight; plan accordingly. MAKE AHEAD: The spiced salt can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Wine: A fruity, peppery red from France's southern Rhône Valley will complement the chicken and spicy seasoning here. Consider a Grenache-dominated Gigondas, such as the 1999 Domaine du Gour de Chaulé or the 2000 Domaine Les Paillères.
- Set a fine sieve over a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, the five-spice powder and bouillon cube and rub them through the sieve. Set the chicken on a platter. Rub the spice blend all over the chicken inside and out and refrigerate it for 4 hours.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar with the water, brown sugar and baking powder and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the syrup to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stand the chicken in the syrup and ladle the syrup over it several times. Transfer the chicken to a rack set over a plate and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
- Pat the chicken dry inside and out with paper towels. In a large wok, heat 3 cups of the oil to 375° over moderately high heat. Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil, breast side up, and cook until deeply browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Insert a large fork into the cavity and carefully transfer the chicken to a plate. Turn the chicken over and lower it into the hot oil, breast side down. Fry the chicken until deeply browned and cooked through, about 20 minutes longer.
- Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the Szechwan peppercorns over moderate heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool. Add 3 tablespoons of kosher salt and grind to a fine powder.
- Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in a small skillet. Add the garlic and cook over low heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer the garlic and oil to a small bowl.
- Transfer the chicken to a carving board, breast side up, and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and arrange the pieces on a platter. Scatter the garlic and oil all over the chicken and serve with the spiced salt.
The BEST chicken ever. EVER. This recipe is at the top of my family's favourites now! I found this recipe over the summer, and I've made it about 5 times now, exactly as written. Try it, you will LOVE this chicken!
Chicken ELEVATED to a whole new level! Not the same old boring chicken tonite hun! This would make an amazing presentation for guests! I never dreamed of frying the chicken WHOLE! Chicken came out brown and gorgeous and SOOOOOOO amazingly tasty and it smells like heaven while it is frying! Made the whole kitchen smell fantastic! this was THE BEST TASTING chicken ever! The marinade made the chicken so juicy with a hint of sweetness and TONS of flavor! Wish I had been quicker so I could have snapped a pic of it whole BEFORE dh carved it! He was really fast on that one bc he could not wait to try it! hehehehe LOVED the dipping salt- so different and yummy! I thought it would be way too salty but it really was not. I am so excited about the salt that I am gonna try it with different dishes- and maybe add some herbs to it. I truthfully was NOT going to make this bc of the time and effort involved BUT it was really easy. This has got to be the most FUN recipe for chicken I have ever used AND it resulted in a fantastic taste treat and a FUN kitchen experience with the whole family! Thanks Cheryl for a tremendously stupendous recipe!