Recipe: Fire Chicken

Fire Chicken Recipe - Wanting Kimchi

Photo: Amelia Su

I’ll confess, I love spending hours in the kitchen and doing ridiculously long cooks and making every freaking thing (like stock, gourmet salt) from scratch. I am even considering making my own gochujang and fish sauce! But since time is now a luxury, given my afternoons to nights* are spent making kimchi, I get a kick out of using technology and forward planning to hack the crap out of elaborate-seeming, made-from-scratch meals. This chicken was made two nights before it was eaten (could have stretched it for weeks or even months if I froze it post cook). If you don't have a sous vide device or don't want to sous vide (nope I don't sell any), you can also roast it in the oven, the (good?) old-fashioned way.

Despite its fiery name, this mean-looking chick is actually not crazy spicy but rather sufficiently and dimensionally spicy, thanks to three types of chilli, each gifting it a different attribute. Paprika for smokiness and hue, cayenne pepper (aka our usual not-spicy chilli) for freshness and fruitiness, and bird’s eye chilli for serious but-not-over-the-top spiciness and amazing flavour from bird's eye chilli (no I’m not referring to chilli padi, which you can use in a pinch. This looks like the dwarf/baby/tiny version of chilli padi, and in fact is the real McCoy. Chilli padi was cultivated to be a quick, lucrative version bird’s eye chilli. Now, appearances can be deceiving, this chicken is fiery and fierce on the outside, but juicy, tender and hainanese-chicken-worthy on the inside. Sorry no nudes cause we do draw the line even if it's just food. Joking, photographer was too busy eating to take an inside shot.

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs (passive) + 10 mins (finishing)
Total Time
4 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 1 hungry barbarian, or 4 civilised adults 

Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, spatchcocked (i.e split lengthwise and flattened)
  • Wanting Kimchi Kimchi Umami Salt, to taste
  • 1 to 2 heads of garlic confit or cooked garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 or more blended/chopped fresh cayenne pepper aka normal chilli
  • 12 blended or chopped bird's eye chilli (substitute with 4 chilli padi if you can't find bird's eye) finely chopped or blended in a food processor
  • Smither of paprika powder
Instructions
  1. Convince your butcher (or soft talk your group buy vendor**) to spatchcock the chicken for you. Failing which, proceed to stab the chicken in its back, cutting lengthwise the whole way through with a sharp weapon. Press breasts down and flatten chicken. Warning: this feels something like a Thai massage manoeuvre and will trigger extreme travel withdrawal!

  2. Sprinkle a smither of Kimchi Umami Salt and paprika powder on both sides of the spatchcocked chicken. Use a little less salt than you think you’ll need, or stop when you've heard your ancestors whisper "that's enough" over your shoulder. The latter method is my absolute to go. By slightly under salting, you can always add on when finishing rather than having to pretend you made salt-baked chicken for dinner (occasionally guilty).

  3. Mix the chopped/blended chillis + smashed garlic confit/cooked garlic + olive oil into a mud mask like paste and apply to all chicken surfaces. Wear gloves for this unless you prefer a little pretend acid peel on your fingers. I use garlic confit (slow-cooked garlic) because my preferred sous vide chicken temperature of 65°C is too low to cook garlic, and I don't like copious amounts of raw, pungent garlic (reason why our kimchi is never too garlic-crazy?). I bulk cook garlic confit and use them for almost everything from stir-fries, stews to sandwich spread. If you don't have that you can roast/air-fry the garlic, or just use raw garlic if you are roasting it in the oven since your temperature will be higher.

  4. Sous vide: place seasoned chicken in a vacuum bag and seal as well as your machine allows, pressing down air pockets for even cooking (why the chicken is mutilated in step 1) to avoid accidentally food poisoning yourself. Sous vide at 65°C for 4-5 hours. Finish by broiling it in a hot oven, or thicken bag juices in a cast iron pan, pop chicken on pan and blow-torch skin till it looks sexy (also why it's called Fire Chicken, cause it was literally on fire). And whilst posting a recipe online probably requires certain narcissistic tendencies, I didn’t whip out my (ok, kimchi monster’s) blow torch to show off, but because my oven = trays and pans storage and I really didn't want to move them. Who's with me?

    Oven: place on oven safe tray and cover with with foil (my choice but optional) to keep chick tender and juicy. Roast at your fave temp and time if any or around 200°C for about 1h 15 mins till cooked through, removing foil for last 5-10 minutes to brown the skin.

  5. Voilà, a Portuguese-styled flame-grilled chicken x Singapore Hainanese Chicken tuned into one of my favourite meal prep hacks.
*mornings are for sleeping in and catching up on admin work (OK mostly sleeping in, I'm nocturnal).

**my seafood groupbuy vendor helped me buy this chicken and convinced the sassy butcher to spatchcock it for me so that I didn't have to. Speaking of groupbuys, contact us if you would like to start a Wanting Kimchi fanclub, I mean group buy for your estate.