Asian Marinated Deep Fried Turkey

A golden brown, crispy-skinned turkey is a thing of beauty, and deep frying your bird will deliver a delicious and picture-perfect bird in a very short amount of cooking time. The Asian brine will add an exotic, subtle flavor to the bird while at the same time ensuring that it is juicy throughout. It’s a perfect merger between your holiday tradition and your Asian experience. 

WARNING: This is what Foodwalkers calls High Risk Cooking, but with a high payoff. So be very careful, wear protective gloves and clothing and DO NOT attempt this indoors or you will likely destroy your Thanksgiving — not to mention your house. Make sure that there is no chance of water or rain anywhere near the pot. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, just in case.


The Brine

This all-purpose marinade can be used for chicken or turkey breast, pork cutlets, firm-pressed tofu, and seafood. If you prefer to omit the chile flakes or paste, use 5 or 6 slices of smashed fresh ginger instead.

For each gallon of cold water used in the brine, add the following:

1 cup kosher salt

¾ cup tamari or soy sauce

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon whole allspice

2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

4 (½ inch) slices fresh ginger, peeled

The Turkey

~11-14 lbs ( turkey, neck and giblets removed, breast thermometer removed. [It’s best to go for a smaller bird — about 11-14 lbs.]

cooking twine

~2-4 gallons (~7-15 ltrs) Peanut or Canola oil for deep frying

Required Tools

The safest and most effective way to deep fry a turkey is to use a dedicated turkey deep fryer, which is a large stock pot with a standing base with a rod in the middle onto which the turkey slides to hold in place in the oil. A hanger-like devise hooks onto the rod for lowering and lifting the turkey in the pot. Alternatively a deep fryer basket can be used in a deep stockpot, but the bird should remain in place, neck down, in the basket, rather than being permitted to float or roll around in the oil. The pot must fit securely on a propane burner. 


Mix the brining ingredients together into a large bucket or pot and soak the bird in the mixture for 12 - 24 hours. Be sure to keep the brining bird in a refrigerator during the soaking process to ensure freshness.

Pat the brined turkey dry with paper towels, inside and out to eliminate all water. Make sure the hole at the neck is open at least 2 inches so the oil can flow freely through the bird.

Tie the wings and if needed, the legs, of the turkey close to the body of the bird so that they do not pull away during cooking.

In a large stockpot or turkey fryer, heat the pre-measured amount of oil to 400 degrees F (190 degrees C). Be sure to leave room for the turkey, or the oil will spill over. To determine how much oil is needed for frying, place the thawed turkey cooking base and place it in the fryer. Add water until the top of the turkey is barely covered. Remove the turkey, allowing the water to drain from the turkey back into the fryer. Be sure use a pot large enough to leave a minimum of 5-7 inches of open pot above the oil level of the bird in the pot, as the oil will boil quite furiously when first lowered into oil. Measure and mark the water line on the outside of the pot, and use that line as a guide when adding oil to the pot. This way you will not have an overflow of boiling oil when you actually go to cook the bird. 

Place the turkey on the standing deep fryer base or in drain basket, neck end down. Slowly lower bird into hot oil to completely cover turkey (Caution: the oil will boil furiously and a cloud of steam will hiss and rise as you lower it in the oil.). Maintain the temperature of the oil at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and cook the turkey for 3½ minutes per pound, about 45 minutes.

Carefully remove basket from oil, and drain turkey. Insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; the internal temperature must be 170 degrees F (80 degrees C). Finish draining turkey on a prepared platter to absorb dripping oil. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.