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If I fry chicken strips for my salad, should I spice them before or after I fry them? I've heard contradicting opinions.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Do you mean sautee? Or deep fry?

Typical deep fry recipe would be to incorporate spices into the flour: add your salt, pepper, paprika, etc to the batter, then fry.

If you sautee, your chicken strips should be seasoned like follows: first, rub in a small to medium amount of kosher salt (not table salt). Let sit for 15+ minutes to season / brine the meat. Best would be a water brine, but I'm guessing that's too fussy for you.

Now, cook up the chicken strips in the pan. Most dry spices I could imagine adding could go in towards the end of the sautee, stuff like cayenne and so on. Garlic or onions would be added first before the chicken, and cooked until soft, but not too brown.

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I just realized that my english vocabulary might be too limited for a proper food discussion. I am talking about sautéing. – Lucas Jul 20 '10 at 21:35
Got it. Then, the primary seasoning you would do beforehand would be salt, either direct application, or through a brine. (Simple brine: Water, 5% salt by weight, bay leaves and lemon juice and thyme. Put chicken in for 10-12 hours). That, cooked in butter will be very good. Of course, you can always season the chicken with fresh herbs close to the end of the sautee. – Peter V Jul 20 '10 at 21:37
I am not sure what is meant by kosher salt, but I assume it would be like (or at least similar) to Pökelsalz in German. Can somebody confirm this? – Lucas Jul 20 '10 at 21:44
@Peter: Thanks a lot! That was very helpful. – Lucas Jul 20 '10 at 21:47
google translates Pökelsalz to Pickling salt. But that seems to be something different. – Lucas Jul 20 '10 at 22:07

The general rule is:

Add dry spice before, Fresh after.

And season after.

However, comments below say this is not always true, but it won't steer you wrong very often.

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+1 A decent summary, although not always correct. – Arafangion Oct 6 '10 at 12:44
@arafangion: Edited to make is less absolute. – Chris Cudmore Oct 13 '10 at 15:49
+1 Right you are. – BaffledCook Oct 13 '10 at 18:09

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