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Melissa Thompson fried chicken

The Stories Behind: Fried chicken

Published: June 27, 2022 at 2:36 pm
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Learn about the history of fried chicken as food writer Melissa Thompson meets with multicultural cooks and creates her own version.

Discover the history of fried chicken with food writer and BBC Good Food columnist Melissa Thompson.

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Watch as she visits three London-based restaurants that specialise in international cuisines. She is given an insight into their fried chicken dishes and what makes them so popular.

Try one of our mouth-watering 11 best fried chicken recipes including buttermilk Southern fried chicken, garlic Kiev, and crispy Korean wings.

If the idea of cooking using extra-hot oil is daunting to you, be sure to read our guide on how to deep fry safely and check our review of the best deep fat fryers.

The Stories Behind: Fried chicken

Bao

Melissa visits Bao, a Taiwanese restaurant, and speaks to the creative director and co-founder Erchen Chang. Melissa is given a behind the scenes insight into how their fried chicken bao recipe is made. It’s a burger-style recipe with sesame bao buns.

Melissa interviews Erchen about how their Bao restaurant started and the inspiration behind it. She delves into what fried chicken means to Taiwanese culture, how it’s typically eaten there compared to how it's adapted in the UK. Erchen speaks of her time living in Taiwan and experiencing the street food there.

La Barra de Pito

Jonathan Nunn, a food writer, invites Melissa to La Barra de Pito, a Colombian restaurant, owned by Marta Agudelo Villa and Jose Fajardo Jaramillo. Jonathan explains that he first heard about the restaurant a few years ago when Elephant and Castle was going through regeneration. He was writing for a feature and chose to visit La Barra to try their fried chicken recipe, Picca Pollo. He was impressed with the taste and the presentation, as it comes with fried plantain and other meats.

Melissa gets an insight to their fried chicken recipe and the backstory. They are Colombian owners, but the fried chicken recipe is Dominican. Elephant and Castle has a huge Latin American population, and many interact with each other and don’t tend to branch out, so it's easy for Spanish speakers to have a limited command of the English language, hence why Marta and Jose only speak Spanish.

Caribe

Melissa visits Caribe, a Caribbean restaurant in Brixton, and speaks to its owner, Keshia Sakarah. She’s visited the restaurant a few times before and was excited to visit once more to gain an insight into Keshia’s fried chicken recipe. Keshia shows Melissa the process of making her corn-fed fried chicken with BBQ molasses. Her sauce is top secret!

Keshia talks about the notion that enslaved people cooked fried chicken as they were only able to keep chickens as livestock. She says: “Recipes carry stories – they’re a way of exploring history and experiences.” Keshia explains that her grandma taught her how to cook, from recipes that have been adapted over hundreds of years.


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Melissa runs food and recipe project Fowl Mouths. In 2014, she started a supper club serving Japanese comfort food that eventually grew into a successful pop-up which only ended after the birth of her daughter in 2018. She’s been a vocal advocate for the promotion of black and minority ethnic people in food, and now provides advice on all aspects of the industry. @fowlmouthsfood

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