Cover Photo: Shardar Tarikul Islam / Unsplash

Be it karaage or yangnyeom, country fried or har cheong gai, fried chicken is always a good idea

Greasy, succulent, yet impossibly crisp, fried chicken is a universal comfort food adored throughout the planet. From Japan to Guatemala, Korea to Taiwan, the delightful treat never fails to bring out one’s inner child. Treat yourself to any of these tasty fried chicken variants, or call up some friends and try them all—you deserve it.

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1. Karaage (Japan)

Crisp is the name of the game when it comes to any fried chicken, but the Japanese tori no karaage takes this to the next level. Commonly made with skin-on chicken thighs, karaage is notably juicy and flavourful; the dark meat boasts more fat (and more flavour), and the skin not only adds texture but helps conceal all the tasty juices within. A soy-based marinade enhances the flavour even further, often combined with mirin, ginger, and sometimes sesame oil. Enjoy the bite-sized nuggets on their own or with a squeeze of lemon and swipe of Japanese mayonnaise—you can’t go wrong.

Tatler Trivia: in Japan, Christmas is all but synonymous with fried chicken, but not karaage. Believe it or not, American-style Kentucky Fried Chicken has become a national tradition in the holiday season.

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2. Southern Fried Chicken (USA)

Many think of the United States as the birthplace of fried chicken (though, some historians disagree), and it’s easy to see why. Southern fried chicken, also referred to as country fried chicken or simply, fried chicken is perhaps the most familiar and common across the planet thanks to international institutions like Popeyes, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and other American classics.

Although not always the case, these relatively large pieces of chicken will sometimes be marinated in a buttermilk-based brine (sometimes called Chicken Maryland), which not only adds flavour to the meat but tenderises it, too.

If you love the Southern fried chicken but are after something with some heat, the Nashville hot chicken is right up your alley: a red-tinged Tennessee take on the classic with a spicy coating, packed with cayenne pepper.

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3. Buffalo Wings (USA)

For the most part, the origins of buffalo wings are largely undisputed. First served in 1964 at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, the sports bar staple is widely credited to Teresa Bellisimo, who allegedly invented the wings, blue cheese dip, celery side combo on the fly. Fast forward 58 years later, and the messy, spicy, bright orange chicken dish has inspired annual wing-eating competitions and even a popular interview series that tests its guests’ spice tolerance.

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4. Central American-Style Country Chicken (Guatemala)

Put simply, Pollo Campero is Latin America’s crave-worthy answer to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Since opening its doors in the ‘70s, the Guatemalan food chain,  (which translates to ‘country chicken) has amassed passionate patronage across Central America and has now even made waves in the US with its fried chicken.

Juicy on the inside yet crispy on the outside, the comfort food is coated in top-secret dredging that imparts the unique flavour that has turned the chain into an international success. Attempting to recreate the dish from scratch, Karla Vasquez uses black and white pepper, cumin, curry powder, chile pepper, paprika, cayenne, and MSG.

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5. Taiwanese Fried Chicken (Taiwan)

Better known in the West as popcorn chicken, Taiwanese fried chicken is a highly-addictive street food made to be enjoyed as you walk the streets of Taiwan. Made with a potato starch dredge to achieve a lighter yet crispier exterior and often served with some fried basil leaves, it‘s a unique experience worthy of any foodie’s bucket list.

Tatler Trivia: on the opposite end of the spectrum is the hefty servings of fried chicken at Taiwanese chain Hot Star Large Fried Chicken, first introduced in 1992. Flat and surely large, it is also a popular street food item as it is designed to be enjoyed with one hand.

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6. Chicken 65 (India)

Although there are different ways of preparing Chicken 65 (e.g. Andhra, Madurai, etc.), the Indian dish is essentially a deep-fried, fried chicken variant that bursts with much-loved spices of the region. Curry leaves, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, and cumin are typically blended to achieve Chicken 65’s special flavour, with Kashmiri chilli powder added to get that bright red hue.

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7. Yangnyeom (Korea)

Thanks to a double-fry method, Korean fried chicken offers a crave-worthy crunch few can compete with. Often, the sinful delight is coated in a luscious spicy glaze with a deep gochujang flavour, creating what is known as yangneom—and even then, the audible crunch endures through the entire bucket when done right. Served with pickled radish and cucumbers to add some brightness to the otherwise heavy profile, Korean fried chicken is also great with an ice cold beer, a pairing known as chimaek.

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8. Har Cheong Gai (Singapore)

Har cheong gai or prawn paste chicken is a local favourite in Singapore. By coating pieces of chicken in a prawn paste batter, you attain a robust and one-of-a-kind flavour that penetrates the meat. Expect bursts of umami and a distinct, pungent aroma with every bite of the golden-brown staple, typically served with lime wedges and chilli sauce.

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9. Ayam Goreng (Malaysia and Indonesia)

Lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and shallots offer a uniquely Southeast Asian flavour profile to the ayam goreng, a fried chicken dish popular in Malaysia and Indonesia. In fact, the chicken is so deeply flavoured from the skin to the bone that you need not enjoy ayam goreng with any sauce or condiment. Best enjoyed with fragrant coconut rice or in a generous nasi goreng, it’s a sure-fire bet for any meal of the day.

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