All across Thailand, you’ll come across stalls and restaurants selling the country’s favourite fowl – Hat Yai fried chicken. Named after the southern Thai city where the dish was first created, gai tod Hat Yai, as it is known locally, is an offering of succulent fried chicken garnished with crunchy, aromatic fried shallots.
Gai tod’s origin
Like many street eats, this tasty treat was crafted out of necessity, such as the need to save food from being binned. In the 1950s, a poultry seller and his wife in Hat Yai struggled to sell their fresh chickens at the market.
Times were bad, and more often than not, many of their chickens would go unsold. To avoid wastage and to earn some income, they decided to fry the leftover birds. Sales were mediocre at first, but that changed the day they started selling crispy fried shallots alongside their fried chicken.
The shallots, given to them by a neighbouring vendor, were almost spoiled, but instead of throwing them away, the couple decided to slice the bulbs thinly and fry them up. The aroma of the fried shallots was said to be so fragrant that it started reeling people to their stall, where the crunchy, caramelised onions were sprinkled over the fried chicken.
Flavours that define Hat Yai’s fried chicken
In the following months, the couple started tweaking their fried chicken recipe to incorporate more robust flavours. The birds would now be marinated in a blend of crushed garlic, coriander root, cumin seeds, white peppercorns, brown sugar, fish sauce, dark soya sauce, and oyster sauce before being lightly dredged in rice flour and fried.
The combination of the golden fried shallots and the flavourful, spice-laden chicken was a match made in heaven. Since its creation decades ago, gai tod Hat Yai has become a staple in Thailand’s vast array of street eats and one of the best fried chicken dishes in the region.
Today, Thais savour this Hat Yai offering with a steaming hot plate of sticky rice as a hearty, satisfying breakfast.
This story was originally published on AirAsia. Zafigo republished this story in full with permission from the publisher, simply because good stories should be read by as many people as possible! If you have stories that will be of interest and useful to women travellers, especially in Asia, please get in touch with us at email@example.com.