Fargo, North Dakota is the largest city between Minneapolis, MN and Spokane, WA. With a whopping population size of 120,000 its no wonder that every few weeks I needed to get out to a real big city and stretch my legs a bit. My hometown has about 400,000 residents in the county and borders Tampa/St. Pete which boasts an additional 2.8 million residents. My years in Fargo were happy, but I would make up any excuse I could to drive three hours to Minneapolis for some much needed variety.
On one particular trip I trekked up to Minneapolis with three service industry friends to see South African musicians, Die Antwoord tear it up in a suburban night club. The trip was not without its misadventures, particularly the night of the show (think: friend loses wallet in the pit and finds her money and credit cards later in the night stuck to her skin under her pant legs…and then suddenly we are all at a TGIFriday’s…?!?)
The morning after the show we drove into the city from the ‘burbs for shopping and eating. I was known to always bring a cooler so I could stock up on exotic ingredients only found in the big city, even then I was testing recipes for what would ultimately end up being this blog. We spent as much money as we possibly could and collapsed in hunger and exhaustion at a small restaurant in the Uptown neighborhood called Lake & Irving.
We were met by a friendly yet chill bartender surrounded by carefully selected craft spirits. She made us each a specific drink tailored to our preferences while we deliberated what to order. In true service industry style, we ordered most of the menu to snack on and share while laughing about the previous night and showing each other the treasures we had purchased during our shopping excursion that day.
The bartender, who we would later find out was the owner, brought us plate after plate of simple yet elevated snacks. We had brussel sprouts fried and finished with white soy and togarashi, some sort of house made rillete, and the showstopper, furikake chicken. The chicken was crispy and creamy all at once with a flavor profile that was difficult for me to uncover. I would later add Lake & Irving to my list of must visits while in the city.
During my final trip to Minneapolis before moving home to Florida I finally worked up the courage to ask the bartender and her chef husband what exactly made the furikake chicken so good. They explained that it was a mixture of kabayaki (a teriyaki derivative usually reserved for bbq eel), kewpie mayo and furikake (a japanese seasoning mix). I filed the ingredients away in brain and never revisited them again, that is, until this week when I was struck with an insatiable craving for a specific chicken dish I hadn’t had in three years. I took to tinkering in the kitchen and I believe I came up with just the fix. Enjoy this crunchy, creamy, sweet and salty special chicken dish and think of Minneapolis.
*These items can typically be found at your local Asian Market
- Combine the chicken thighs and brine and refrigerate between 2 hours and overnight
- Combine kewpie mayo, kabayaki and 2 tbsp furikake. This step can be done 1-2 days ahead of time
- Combine cornstarch and 1 Tbsp furikake in a shallow dish
- Remove chicken from brine and gently pat dry. The chicken should still be slightly moist so that cornstarch can stick to it.
- Add 1 1/2-2 in of your choice of neutral cooking oil (I prefer peanut) to a cast iron skillet and heat on medium heat to 350 degrees.
- Plop 1/4 of chicken pieces into cornstarch mixture and fully coat. Once fully coated in a thin layer of cornstarch add the chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown. I always make sure to stick a thermometer into the biggest chicken piece to make sure the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F before removing from the oil.
- Remove fully cooked chicken from oil and place on a paper towel lined tray. Repeat steps 6 & 7 for the remainder of the chicken.
- Once all the chicken is cooked, transfer to a mixing bowl and pour the mayo, kabayaki, furikake mixture over the chicken and toss until coated.
- Serve on its own at a party, as an appetizer or with rice for a hearty dinner