Personally, I didn’t grow up with Max’s fried chicken. I didn’t grow up with Savory fried chicken either. Most people I grew up with associate their childhood with one or the other, or both. I was a Jones’ chicken girl — that smaller restaurant beside the original Savory at the foot of Jones Bridge in Manila. It isn’t there anymore. But my memories of Jones’ chicken still lingers.
Max’s… I don’t think I ate at Max’s Restaurant until after I was married. Speedy and I used to bring the girls there when they were toddlers. In fact, there was one time… we were on our way home from Baguio, we got caught in flash floods and horrendous traffic in Tarlac, and, by the time we reached Tarlac City at 10.30 p.m. after more than six hours of traffic, the only restaurants open were Max’s and Chow King. Of course, we chose Max’s. So, in a way, I guess you can say that Max’s Restaurant and my family have some history together.
So, what can I say about Max’s fried chicken? It’s really truly tasty and it’s crispy without any coating or breading of any kind. I love it but eating at Max’s is a different thing altogether. The sizes of the chicken have shrunk over the years. A balikbayan who hadn’t been home in decades excitedly went there not too long ago and declared that the spring chicken was the size of a cornish hen. It was an accurate description, sad to say.
Ergo, if you want a Max’s Restaurant-style fried chicken without the ridiculous price tag, it’s smarter to make it at home. It’s easy. Thanks to the ever gorgeous Iska of Iskandals.
It starts with the seasonings. Garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. Pretty basic, right? But giving the chicken soak up those flavors makes a world of difference. Don’t hurry up the process. Marinate for at least an hour; longer, if you have time.
Next, steam the chicken. Then, while still hot, season both sides with salt and pepper. Allow the steamed chicken to rest prior to frying. That’s what makes the fried chicken moist after twice frying. If you skip the resting part, all the juices will just ooze out into the cooking oil.
The frying is done in two stages. The initial frying lightly browns the chicken.
Then, it’s resting time once more.
The second and final frying gives the chicken a rich golden color and crispy exterior.
Ready to try cooking fried chicken, Max’s Restaurant-style?
- 3 chicken leg quarters
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- pepper (I used white but black is okay)
- 2 to 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
Place the chicken in a container. Add the garlic, ginger, 1 and 1/2 tsps. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper. Rub the seasonings and spices into the chicken well. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.
Prepare the steamer. Cut a piece of baking paper to fit snugly into your steamer basket. Cut out holes on the paper. The paper ensures that the chicken won’t stick on the basket; the holes ensure that condensation falls back into the water beneath the basket.
Steam the chicken for 30 minutes. Remove the steamer basket from the pan. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. After five minutes, turn the chicken over and sprinkle the other side with salt and pepper as well. Leave for another ten minutes to allow the juices inside the meat to settle.
Heat the cooking oil. Fry the chicken, two to three minutes per side, just until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and allow to rest for ten minutes. Same principle as before.
Reheat the cooking oil. Fry the chicken a second time, two to three minutes per side again, until the skins are golden brown.