Crispy Fried Cornish Game Hens (Tapaka)

READY IN: 3hrs 15mins




  • With a meat cleaver, poultry shears, or a VERY sharp knife, split open the breast of the Cornish Hen. Carefully remove the breastbone. Cover the hen with waxed paper and pound the flat side of the cleaver or a meat tenderizer to flatten.
  • Combine the garlic, lemon juice, paprika, and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Rub over the hen and refrigerate, covered for at least two hours or as long as overnight.
  • Heat the clarified butter in a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Brush the garlic off the hen, then place the hen in the skillet, skin side down. Cover the hen directly with something flat (such as an ovenproof plate) and place a heavy object (such as a brick, a smaller iron skillet, or a pan filled with water) on top so the hen is firmly pressed down.
  • Cook until the skin is deep golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Turn the bird, re-weight, and cook on the other side for about 15 minutes. Pierce a thigh with a skewer. the hen is ready when the juices run clear.
  • Serve on a bed of lettuce, garnished with the fresh vegetables, and accompanied with the Sour Plum Sauce on the side.
  • For the Sour Plum Sauce:
  • In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the prunes and enough cold water to barely cover. bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the prunes are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Drain the prunes, then pit and put them through a food mill. Return the prunes to the saucepan. Add the cilantro, garlic, coriander seeds, fenugreek, red pepper flakes to taste, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and salt. bring to a boil and heat for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from heat. Yaste and add more lemon juice, if desired.
  • Cool the sauce to room temperature and transfer to a sterilized 1 quart jar. Top with the oil. seal. and refrigerate. The sauce should stand for at least 4 to 6 hours before serving. The sauce will keep for up to two months in the refrigerator. This makes about 3 cups.