Volcano Chicken – Milwaukee Style
Back in the day, the King and I restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was possibly my wife and I’s favorite Thai restaurant. We have many dates there, before getting married, and it is just one of those restaurants where you go, and have to get a particular dish. I often compare the restaurant to going to a really awesome restaurant that is know for its chicken wings, but going in and ordering a salad. It just does not happen that way, especially at the King and I! Now don’t get me wrong, I really love Thai food, and it could possibly be one of my favorite cuisines, but going to the King and I, both my wife and I always ordered their Volcano Chicken.
Having moved outside of the city, we stopped dining at the King and I, and trust me, we miss it. We miss the flavor of the Volcano Chicken. Basically, in its simplest form, perfectly fried chicken pieces, laid over a bed of seared cabbage and carrots, with this secret sauce, ordered as hot as you could handle it, poured over the entire plate, and served with a side of rice.
Now, you should know me by now. When I find something that good, I have to figure out how to make it. I have made several attempts in the past, of which were ok, but it was not the sauce, so I proposed to my wife that I make it again, and make it how it should be made. As her eyes lit up, and my mouth began to water just thinking of it, I knew I had a flavor challenge ahead of me, but I was up for the challenge.
Ingredients (for chicken and batter):
- 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- 1 tbs of salt
- 1 tbs of pepper
- 3 tbs of cold water
- 3/4 cup of cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tbs soy sauce
- 4 egg yolks, remove the whites
- Oil, for deep frying, approximately 3 cups
In a small bowl, add the soy sauce, water, and the egg yolks, and beat until well combined. To a larger bowl, add the cornstarch and salt and pepper. Slowly stir in the egg mixture to make your batter. Add your chicken cubes to the batter and make sure you mix well to get the batter all over the chicken cubes. Set aside and bring your oil to temperature in your deep fryer, approximately 350 degrees.
Ingredients (Volcano Sauce):
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of honey
- 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 1 Thai chili, chopped
- 2 whole chili
- Small head of green cabbage, rough chopped
- 4 large carrots, cleaned, peeled, and sliced on the diagonal
- Cooked Jasmine Rice
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
To your sauce pan, add all of the sauce ingredients, bringing to a boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat and cook until it reduces, approximately 25 minutes. Once reduced, remove from the heat and let cool. Now keep in mind this has a good heat to it, not too spicy. If you want more spice, I suggest adding chili flakes, or chili flakes that you can buy in the Asian marts that are in a oil.
Your oil should be ready. Drop in the chicken cubes, being careful to to overcrowd and cook until a light golden brown. This should only take about 5 minutes per batch. Remove from the oil, and let drain on paper towel, repeating the process until all chicken has been fried.
Next get your large skillet heated on a high heat. Add the olive oil, and toss in the cabbage and carrots. The goal is to let this mixture sear, and become somewhat blackened, but not burnt. The high heat brings out the sweetness of these vegetables, and builds a really killer flavor. Once seared on one side, approximately a few minutes, flip, and get a sear going on the other side.
You are now ready to plate. I like to get a small cup out, pack it with the rice, then flip over onto the plate. This adds some nice presentation to your plating. Add a bed of the cabbage and carrots onto the plate, top with chicken pieces, and spoon on the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, just enough to make things damp.
Dig in and enjoy. As this dish took about 45 minutes to cook overall, it was definitely worth it. We giggled, and agreed that I nailed the sauce. Sorry King and I.