Recipe: Zabb Fried Chicken

~ This is Day 67 ~

Before you do anything, go here to Fish Cheeks‘ website and buy their zabb seasoning because this recipe won’t work without it!

My favorite number 3 dish at Fish Cheeks is their zabb fried chicken wings! Zabb is a spice seasoning consisting of chili, lemongrass, makrut lime, salt, and sugar. Their wings are so incredibly scrumptious! Finger-licking, smackingly good!!!!

About two years ago, I have been conducting trials at home to recreate their zabb seasoning but was unsuccessful. Thanks to Chef Ohm for recently selling the seasoning now!!! Now that I know what exactly is inside, I’m still going to try and make it at home from scratch. I was only missing the lemongrass and makrut lime flavors.

Anyway, I live outside of their delivery zone and it’s been really rough looking at their gorgeous food on social media everyday during quarantine, so I finally got their seasoning and made fried chicken at home. Not exactly how they make it at the restaurant, I made drumsticks like how Korean fried chicken is made and tossed it with their zabb seasoning! For fried chicken, I prefer drumsticks over wings!

For the Marinade:

  • Salt, as needed
  • 1 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 TBS ground ginger
  • Splash of Chinese rice wine/white wine/vodka/booze
  • 8 chicken drumsticks

Cut slits on the drumsticks to maximize flavor absorption. Season chicken drumsticks generously with kosher salt, then marinate drumsticks with spices and flavorings in a shallow bowl or dish for 30 minutes in room temperature before frying.

For the Flour Mix:

  • AP flour
  • Cornstarch/Potato starch
  • Salt

I mix equal parts flour to starch and season it a little with salt.

For Deep Frying:

  • Grapeseed or canola oil
  • Thermometer

Take marinaded drumsticks and toss in flour mix, make sure to pat flour mix into and onto drumsticks. I like to shake them in a ziplock bag to fully coat the chicken. Place coated chicken on a wire rack and heat up oil.

Fry the chicken twice, once at 300°F, and the second time at 400°F. Internal temperature of chicken should be at least 165°F. After the second frying, while the chicken is resting on a clean wire rack, find your largest bowl and toss chicken generously with the zabb seasoning!

Recipe: Coconut Crab Curry

My favorite restaurant in NYC is still Fish Cheeks, an authentic Thai restaurant that focuses on seafood in NoHo. For the first year in the restaurant, they had a sign that read “A No Pad Thai Zone”. I’m there basically every week. If I’m eating alone, I always start with the grilled pork cheeks (those taste better than bacon by a million times!) and then finish with their coconut crab curry! Other favorites on their menu: zabb wings, tiger prawn/lobster karee, and po tak! They also have happy hour everyday, twice a day, which is #awesomesauce because people who also work in the industry usually work during “normal” happy hour times.

Anyway, six months ago, I stumbled onto Fish Cheeks‘ coconut crab curry recipe on Vice. I immediately bookmarked it and have been trying to get the energy to do it at home. Fall season has hit NYC and my work life has been overwhelmingly exhaustive. I’ve been working 6-7 days a week since Labor Day. Last Saturday, I finally had the time to make curry paste from scratch. I have a new appreciation for what goes into the work of making the curry paste. I wonder how big their mortal & pestle is…? Or maybe Fish Cheeks has an assembly line of cooks making curry paste at the same time?

There were three ingredients that I couldn’t find though; betel leaves, prik ban chang, and shrimp paste. I was told by the Thai grocer that a close substitute to betel leaves were the leaves of Chinese broccoli (gai lan, 芥蓝). Prik, which is chili in Thai, is a red chili pepper that is not spicy but is used to make curries red/orange in color. The Thai market was out of shrimp paste so I bought dried Japanese shrimp from Chinatown.

So here is my adaptation from Vice’s published Fish Cheeks‘ recipe.

For the Curry Paste:

  • ¼ oz. sea salt
  • ¾ oz. dried Thai bird’s eye red chili
  • ½ oz. fresh Thai bird’s eye chili
  • ¼ oz. garlic
  • ½ oz. fresh galangal
  • 1 oz. lemongrass
  • 1 oz. wild ginger
  • ½ oz. fresh turmeric
  • 1 oz. dried shrimp

Make the curry paste by mashing everything together with a mortar and pestle. I have a 6-inch one and the volume was perfect. Start with the top listed ingredient and then work your way down. Do not move onto the next ingredient until the previous one has become a paste.

For the Curry:

  • Two 14 oz. cans of coconut milk
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 oz. fish sauce
  • 1 oz. palm sugar
  • 1 oz. lemongrass
  • 1 oz. tamarind concentrate
  • ½ oz. fresh galangal
  • 4 fresh makrut lime leaves, plus 2 finely chopped as garnish
  • 4 Chinese broccoli leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz. crab meat

In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, bring the coconut milk, shallot, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, tamarind, galangal, 4 makrut lime leaves, Chinese broccoli leaves, and the curry paste to a simmer. Be sure to break the tamarind concentrate thoroughly with a whisk. Stirring constantly to prevent scorching, cook for 15 minutes, then take off heat and let it cool for another 15 minutes. Strain and discard solids.

Add in the crab and the rest of the finely chopped makrut lime leaves on low heat, until the crab is heated through. Pour into a serving bowl and serve with lots of steamed white rice!

Service: March 29, 2019

Yesterday, I made pork belly steamed buns for family meal! I think it’s my last time planning/cooking family meal for awhile because I am now being rotated to the upstairs Private Events team.

I like to make more complex family meals on Friday/Saturday because that’s when the restaurant’s staff is at its highest and more people can enjoy my food.

I seared the pork bellies the night before and marinated them with the cooled down braising liquid. The day of, everything was brought to a simmer and placed in a 250°F convection oven for 3 hours, then pressed, in order to get nice, cuttable blocks.

I wasn’t able to get a good picture because by the time I realized that I forgot to take the picture, my plate was already half-eaten.

IMG_1300

The pork bellies were served with steamed open buns, rice with Chinese pork sausage, pickled cucumber, sauce made from the braising liquid, and a Napa cabbage coleslaw with miso vinaigrette.

Service: March 9, 2019

So now that I have rotated onto roast station at Legacy Records, I am now in charge of planning and cooking the second and most important family meal everyday. Family meal is restaurant colloquialism for “staff meal.” We have three; one in the AM for the prep cooks, pastry cooks/chefs, sous chefs, and porters in the kitchen, the next at 3:45pm for everyone working (both front of house (FOH) and back of house (BOH), and a late-night PM one for the PM-porters and cleaning crew!

I never really counted but the number of people who I am cooking for is around 60-ish. In this restaurant, we go all out with our family meals. I try to push out thoughtful meals for each day but there are some days that are better than others. And I’m talking like for Saturday March 9! Even my photo was amazing! Thanks to the iPhone XS Max/I love portrait mode! Even better than the 7 Plus! (Ok, enough iPhone talk!)

I cured 100 duck legs for two days, slow roasted them, was too tired to pick through all 100 legs so I wrote a label for everyone to “DIY”. That was served with my friend’s grandmother’s hush hush red mole recipe. That mole got me a lot of compliments!

In case you were wondering, we also had rice and tortillas served with them, with various accoutrements, a guac/cucumber salad, and roasted nutty zucchini.

Mystery Pastry

There is a pastry at work which I obsessed with! It looks like a diamond, with croissant dough, cut at 90° angles and filled with rhubarb purée. It can be filled with anything but rhubarb is what we’re doing right now. Every time when there is an extra serving of it, I take it! Or two! No shame! My hands just reach out and grab it! Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

I asked our pastry chef and he calls it a “diamond”. That was a little anticlimactic because I thought it would have an official French name or something.

Gambas with Fennel

There is nothing more I love to eat than head-on shrimp and Sauce Américaine. As you can see, this dish is very similar to Gambas with Fennel, almost identical, just missing two components with the addition of fennel blossoms, to give the fennel cream a little more of the fennel taste!

Here are Gambas, with a Fennel Cream, Fennel Blossoms, Saltwort, and a Sauce Américaine Foam.

Lemon Verbena Cured Arctic Char Sandwich

This was one of the last morsels of food that I created before my tenure was up at Degustation. My watermelon “sushi” amuse bouche was on the tasting menu for awhile then and spring was turning into summer so it was the perfect time to change the amuse.

It took me a few tries to perfect this little bite! I experimented with the salinity of the cure, the time of the cure, and the thickness of the potato chip. I really hope I wrote down the recipe because I’d want to do this in the future, whenever I have my own place.

Anyway, here was the new amuse: Lemon Verbena cured Arctic Char, Salmon Roe, Potato Chips, Paddlefish Caviar, and Chive Batons.

Black Truffle Fettuccine

I’m not a truffle fanatic, I don’t go crazy for truffles. I don’t put truffles on things just for the sake of it. Sometimes when you buy truffles, they may smell like truffles but the taste isn’t there.

Anyway, the truffle in this pasta was superb. I was given a tiny knob of an already shaved truffle and was asked to make something delicious out of it. This is what I made: Housemade Fettuccine with Maitake Mushrooms in a Truffle-Thyme Cream Sauce, Shaved Black Truffle to garnish.

Poached Egg with Asparagus & Speck

To the average person, this seems like a breakfast/brunch/lunch item, and it is. In many tasting menus, egg is a popular course to put on towards the start of the tasting.

So here is a Sous Vide Poached Egg, Asparagus, Smoked Speck, Crispy Shallots, Grain Mustard Dressing, and Micro Parsley.

Service: March 6 – 10, 2018

I’ve been at Legacy Records for just barely over three months now! We opened this past Tuesday to the public, after doing an extended Friends & Family for six weeks! I am extremely grateful that our opening week is finally over!!! We’ve been averaging 180-200 covers a night!!!! That number is much bigger than what I am used to. My background has been in smaller restaurants. But the busy pace is the same no matter where you are, and at the end of the night, I did it. Five long days. Five long services.

Time to start another week tomorrow.