I’ve avoided getting specialized kitchen gear of certain kinds. I do not want a sous vide machine, I do not want a breadmaker. My counters are crowded and disorderly and I don’t need any of that, not the least because I don’t actually like the outcomes. (Sous vide seems to me only supremely great for preparing properly runny soft-boiled eggs or other foods that need to be just over the temperature threshold that makes them safe to eat while still being soft and warm.) I got an Insta-Pot with some hesitation but I have to say that it functions extremely well as a rice and lentil cooker and it makes cooking beans plausible rather than the uncertain and multiday affair it has been for me in the past. Plus it does let me make some stews and braises on shorter notice if the need arises.
But the deep fryer? I got it with some hesitation. They’re dangerous machines if you’re not careful in terms of fire and burn hazards, and it’s not a very healthy technique on the whole. But I’d gotten tired of mediocre and often profoundly messy outcomes from frying in two inches of oil in a deep skillet when the occasion arose. Like with fried chicken. And I have really not regretted it. I use it mostly for three things: fried chicken, tempura of various kinds, french fries. It is genuinely superior for those, though the french fries also depend very very much on the quality of the potatoes. (I’ve found that the potato variety called Eva that I get from Philly Foodworks makes truly superior fries—I don’t use russets any longer for that unless that’s all I can get.)
That said, however I might be cooking fried chicken, I’d preferentially use Lee’s approach—and stick to thighs and legs. Chicken breasts on the bone take too long to fry and the meat doesn’t hold flavor very well. (They’re great if what you’re trying to do is imitate the Popeye’s chicken sandwich, but that’s boneless breasts, and I wouldn’t blanch them in Lee’s adobo preparation first—that’s strictly a buttermilk-and-dredge affair.)
I don’t have homemade kimchi in the fridge or I might have tried Lee’s kimchi poutine at last, so I just made a Napa cabbage-dominated slaw to go with the carrots and chicken.
Working with a familiar recipe that you barely need to consult is a good window into your own preparation habits. Lee calls for mincing the garlic that goes into his vinegar-water broth but that seems stupidly unnecessary to me—I just smash some whole cloves enough while peeling that I think they release their flavor. I also almost always put more garlic in anything than a cookbook recipe calls for and this was no exception. When half-assing the dressing for the slaw, I did my usual mix of mirin, soy sauce, fish sauce, grapeseed oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar and lime and I kind of realized as I cut open my last lime that I always prefer lime over lemon not just because I like the taste of limes but because I don’t want to fuck around with squeezing out the juice on the juicer—I just want to squeeze it straight into the dressing or the sauce etc, and with lemons you generally can’t because of the seeds.
Adapting something to the way your life is makes it “yours” in some sense. You’ll always remember where it comes from—and sometimes you start to drift enough from what makes it good that you have to lock back down on it and use the recipe. (The carrots, for example, really need some management of the time that hews closely to Lee’s recipe, or they’ll be too soft on one hand or the sauce won’t get that great brown-butter-bourbon-syrup taste on the other.) But it’s kind of a precious thing, when food slips from being something you learn into something you practice as domestic ritual.