When developing recipes for this blog, every now and then a dish, a technique, or even a single ingredient can sometimes set off a chain reaction of new ideas and new dishes to create down the line. Take for instance, my stretch run of blog posts that featured the likes Ube Pancakes, Ube Cupcakes, and Ube Doughnuts, just to name a few. If these Ube Recipes were my “purple period”, then perhaps my most recent posts can be my “coconutty white period”.
Though not intentional, my last couple of recipe posts have all featured coconut in some way shape or form. There was my Crispy Pig’s Ears in Coconut Oil Confit, then my Chicken Binakol Stewed in Coconut Water. I guess when inspiration hits, intentional or not, run with it right? So for my latest recipe, coconut finds its way into the classic American soul food dish of Chicken and Waffles, where coconut milk is used in lieu of buttermilk in both the crispy chicken coating, and in the waffle batter.
It’s a simple enough swap, coconut milk for buttermilk, but the slight sweetness from the coconut milk brings a nice change of pace to the usual tang of buttermilk. And although Chicken and Waffles is an All-American dish, this part-poultry-part-pastry pairing has made its way into many Filipino restaurants not only stateside, but in Manila as well. This is perhaps due in large part to Filipinos’ long-standing love affair for fried chicken (Jollibee, anyone?), but more likely because Chicken and Waffles is dang tasty no matter where you are from.
For the waffle part of my dish, not only did I use coconut milk in my waffle batter, but I also added some coconut oil and macapuno strings. I’ve written about macapuno before, but if you’re just joining the party, macapuno is basically a preserved jam of shredded coconut that is very often used in Filipino desserts.
Strings, we brings, melody
The coconut milk, oil, and strings all help to bring lots of coconut flavors to the waffle, of course, but the coconut oil also serves a second purpose of preventing the waffle from sticking to the waffle iron. The resultant waffle features a crisp exterior, with tender insides studded with sweet coconut strings. With a little butter and maple syrup, this Coconut Milk and Macapuno waffle is great for breakfast on its own, but even better for lunch or dinner when paired with crispy fried chicken.
For the fried chicken part of this dish, I actually used my own Coconut Milk Fried Chicken recipe from The Adobo Road Cookbook, but adapted it for my SousVide Supreme machine (yes, I’ve gone sous-vide crazy lately). In my original Adobo Road recipe, I give some chicken pieces an overnight soak in a mixture of soy, vinegar, calamansi juice, and garlic, then I dredge the chicken in seasoned flour, coconut milk, and seasoned flour again before frying. For this sous-vide version, I just seasoned some chicken thighs with fresh ground black pepper and Filipino sea salt, then packed the chicken in a vacuum bag with sliced calamansi and garlic, then cooked in a 150 degree F water bath. After 2 hours in the water bath, I dredge the chicken in the same seasoned flour and coconut milk before frying.
The great thing about cooking chicken sous-vide before frying is that the chicken becomes incredibly moist. But another benefit of the sous-vide treatment is that because the chicken is already perfectly cooked, it doesn’t have to spend a long time in the fry oil–just 3-4 minutes total to get a golden brown, crisp crust. The resultant fried chicken is remarkably juicy, with hints of garlic and calamansi within the meat, and has a beautifully crisp exterior with a subtle hint of coconut. Again, this Coconut Milk Fried Chicken is great on its own, but insanely delicious when paired with the Coconut Milk and Macapuno Waffles.
If Roscoe was Pinoy…
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (preferably Chaokoh brand)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil (liquefied)
- 1/2 cup shredded macapuno coconut strings (can be found at Asian market)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the coconut milk, coconut oil, macapuno strings, and egg to the dry ingredients and stir together until well combined. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.
- Preheat a waffle iron follow the manufacturer's instructions to cook the waffles
- Serve with butter and maple syrup, along with Coconut Milk Fried Chicken (recipe below)
- 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Filipino sea salt, or kosher salt
- 4-5 calamansi limes, halved, or 1 lemon thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Filipino sea salt, or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika.
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- Canola oil
- Fill the SousVide Supreme with water and heat to 150 degrees F.
- Season the chicken with the salt and pepper, then place chicken into a sous-vide bag.
- Squeeze the calamansi juice into the bag, and place the calamansi rinds in the bag as well. Alternatively, place a thin slice of lemon on each chicken thigh.
- Add the garlic cloves and bay leaves to the bag.
- Vacuum seal the bag and place in the water bath for 2 hours.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the sous-vide bag, making sure to remove and discard any bay leaves, garlic, or calamansi/lemon slices sticking to the chicken.
- Pat the chicken dry on paper towels.
- Combine the flour, 2 teaspoons pepper, 2 teaspoons salt, and smoked paprika in a shallow dish.
- Pour the coconut milk into a large bowl.
- Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess flour, then dip into the coconut milk, and back into the flour. Place the coated chicken onto a wire rack and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- While the chicken is resting, pour the canola oil into a deep pot or Dutch oven to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 380 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer.
- Working in batches, place the chicken in the hot oil and fry until golden and crisp, 3-4 minutes.
- Drain the chicken on paper towels.
- Serve chicken with Filipino Spicy Vinegar or your favorite hot sauce, along with Coconut Milk Waffles (recipe above).