Back to top

HOW FRIED CHICKEN WAS INVENTED BY THE SCOTTISH

Here at CHIK’N, we often wonder how many people in the world think that Colonel Saunders invented fried chicken? Would you be surprised to hear it was the Scottish? It makes sense as they’ve always loved deep-frying everything from Mars Bars to pizza up there.

Photo: CARNIVAL MUNCHIES

The Scottish immigrants from the southern states of America had a tradition of deep frying chicken in fat and even further back they used to fry fritters in the middle ages. The Scottish immigrants would often work, live and eat with the African slaves and this lead to the African slaves adding some more spices to the recipe and creating their own interpretation of fried chicken. These African slaves later went on to become the cooks in many a Southern American household where fried chicken became a common staple. They also discovered that it travelled well in hot weather in the times before refrigeration was commonplace so was eaten on almost a daily basis as they travelled to the cotton fields to work. Since then it has become the region’s top choice for Sunday dinner, Independence Day and just about any other damn day!!

Photo: CLIO

The basis of this theory is said to have come from a guy called James Boswell who wrote a journal in 1773 called “Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides”. In his journal he noted that at dinner the locals would eat fricassee of fowl which he went on to say “fried chicken or something like that”. What he really heard was the Scottish dish Friars Chicken, not fried chicken but you could say that where it was first named!!

The very true origins of fried chicken we will probably never know but the earliest known recipe for fried chicken in English is hidden away in one of the most famous cookery books of the 18th century by Hannah Glasse called The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. Her recipe had a strange name called “To Marinate Chickens” which was first published in 1747. The book was a hit in the UK and more importantly in the US Colonies.

Here is the original recipe...

Cut two chickens into quarters; lay them in vinegar for 3-4 hours with pepper, salt, bay and a few cloves. Make a very thick batter first with ½ pint of wine and flour then the yolks of two eggs a little melted butter and some nutmeg. Beat it all together very well, dip your fowls in the batter and fry them in a good deal of hogs lard which must boil first before you put your fowl in. Let them be of a fine brown colour and lay them on your dish with a garnish of fried parsley. Serve with lemons and a gravy boat of good gravy.

Interestingly not too far from what happens today, but thankfully we have replaced the hog fat with Rapeseed oil which has nearly zero trans fats and we use a brine of buttermilk and salt to season our chicken throughout. It’s amazing to think how far this recipe has travelled worldwide and how different cultures have adopted their own versions. Here’s how some other countries get their fried chicken fix on:

SINGAPORE - HAR CHEONG GAI

A prawn paste fried chicken served on the Hawker stalls

INDONESIA - AYAM GORENG

Twice fried and mounded with crispy bits eaten with a fiery sambal called trassi

VIETNAM - GA CHIEN

Fried chicken slathered in chili fish sauce caramel

Photo: COOKTUBE

THAILAND - GAI TOD

Fried chicken from the south made with a red spicy batter that contains red chili or red curry paste