Chef-restaurateur Jet Tila grew up in the food business, learning about Asian cuisine both in his family’s Thai grocery store, Bangkok Market in Hollywood, as well as their many restaurants.
He spent childhood summers working at his uncle’s Royal Thai Restaurant in Newport Beach, where he moved up over time from dishwasher to server. He admits that he viewed the work as miserable, and says that he had his eye on becoming a policeman.
But culinary passion took over when he was asked to teach cooking classes.
Watch Jet make his oh-so-luscious chicken and waffles in this short video. Maple syrup and Sriracha? You bet!
Pure maple syrup, Sriracha and herbaceous compound butter meld over the surface.
An alluring mix of sweet, spicy and just-right saltiness, the crisp, golden brown fried chicken and crisp waffles are flavor boosted with Thai-inspired Sriracha hot sauce as well as real maple syrup. The dish is number one in popularity at the jazz Sunday brunches held at his Santa Monica gastro-lounge, The Charleston.
Jet’s accomplishments are many, including the creation of Wazuzu, the Pan-Asian restaurant at Steve Wynn’s Encore in Las Vegas, as well as his appearance on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.” On the show, themed “Battle Seaweed,” his opponent was the acclaimed chef Masaharu Morimoto. Morimoto’s cuisine reigned supreme, but only by a mere four points.
Tila’s radio program, the “SoCal Restaurant Show,” broadcasts from Angel Stadium in Anaheim on KLAA AM830, Saturday mornings from 10:30 to noon.
Here is the recipe. If you like, you can eliminate many of the ingredients and the first three steps by substituting your favorite frozen waffles.
Chef Jet’s Chicken and Waffles
Yield: 4 servings
3 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
4 (4- to 6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded or sliced diagonally 3/4-inch thick
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) baking powder
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For frying chicken:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour mixed with 1/2 cup panko
1/2 tablespoon seasoned salt, such as Lawry’s
Canola oil for deep frying
Pure maple syrup
Sriracha sauce, to taste, see cook’s notes
Compound butter: 1 stick softened salted butter mixed with 2 teaspoons minced lemon zest and 1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
Cook’s notes: Sriracha sauce, sometimes called rooster sauce because the most popular brand has a rooster on the label, is a hot sauce most often packaged in squeeze bottles. The spicy, tangy sauce has a very subtle hint of sweetness; it is made with red chilies, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar
1. In a medium-large nonreactive bowl, combine buttermilk and seasoned salt. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours.
2. Heat waffle iron. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside. In a separate medium-large bowl, whisk eggs until pale in color and well blended. Whisk in milk. Whisk in salt and sugar. Whisk in flour mixture, 1/2 cup oil and vanilla, mixing just until mixture comes together (there will be some small lumps – that’s what you want). Finish with a couple of stirs using a silicone spatula, scraping against the sides and bottom of the bowl.
3. Spray heated waffle iron generously with nonstick spray. Add amount of batter to correctly fill waffle iron (see manufacturer’s directions for your waffle iron). Close iron and heat until nicely browned and crisp. Repeat, making enough waffles for 4 servings (Chef Tila’s waffle iron is divided into quarters; he uses 2 quarters for each serving).
4. In a shallow pan, combine flour, panko and seasoned salt; place it next to stove. Place a plate lined with paper towels next to stove. In a deep Dutch oven, heat about 3 inches of canola oil to between 360- and 375-degrees. Place one piece of chicken with buttermilk still clinging to it (do not shake if off) into the panko mixture. Firmly press panko mixture into chicken on both sides; shake off excess. Place chicken in heated oil, cautiously placing it away from you. Turn as needed with tongs. Fry until nicely browned and chicken is thoroughly cooked (165 degrees), about 3 to 5 minutes. Depending on the size of your pan, you can fry 2 or 3 pieces at a time.
5. Angle two waffle quarters on each plate. Angle chicken on waffles so that it stands up; top with maple syrup. Place a small scoop of compound butter on the chicken. Squeeze zigzags of Sriracha on top, to taste. Serve.
Source: Chef-restaurateur, radio host Jet Tila
A Quick Tip From Melissa’s
Think Brussels sprouts are yucky?
I love to cut the orbs in half, then sear-steam them.
It an easy approach that brings out the best in the Brussels sprouts, which need to be no bigger than medium size. They are well browned on the cut side in a little olive oil and butter on medium heat, then covered and cooked on low heat until tender crisp.
The caramelization on the cut side makes them sweet, while the final steaming creates alluring texture.
I topped the cooked Brussels with coarsely chopped salted Marcona almonds.