Chicken Charlie already got props last week for his upcoming deep-fried cereal exploits. Yet that's not the only A-game he's bringing next month. Surprisingly, his other tasty delights involve fruit that isn't even fried. Inspired by a vacation in Hawaii, our new buddy set his sights on some Aloha meals that are downright healthy compared to the bulk of their menu. Not including Charlie's other new deep-fried item (gotta keep reading for that one), those in search of lighter fare need not look further.
If you ask Charlie, he would've named it Pineapple Me. But we think his team was
smoking baking frying something special when they came up with Pineapple Express. While most families have a BBQ grill at home, Charlie's got a deep fryer in his backyard–or as we like to refer to it, Research and Development. Along with his brother Tony, they set out to create a luau-worthy selection of bites, Chicken Charlie style.
Of the 10 island treats, their showstoppers involve slicing a whole pineapple lengthwise and scooping out the middle to create a serving vessel. The fruity bowl and shrimp cocktail are perfect as a cool entree. Slightly more assertive, but definitely manageable are the flash-fried naked shrimp and Maui chicken, both served alongside sticky rice and diced up pineapple beneath. And how about those battered fried pineapple rings dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate? They're not his favorite deep-fried Oreos, but these are super-sweet, even without the drizzle.
There's also chicken and shrimp salads, deep fried shrimp and pork chops, and Spam. SPAM, baby! Oh how we crush on you, processed mystery meat. Our particular batch was more battered than usual, taking on a mini-corn dog persona. But the mix had parsley, lemon pepper, garlic, and black pepper spices throughout. This Spamalicious protein maintained a moist interior while browning evenly outside. We actually preferred dipping our Maui chicken in the sweet and sour sauce from here. You either love or hate it, and that's why Chicken Charlie always has so many options.
The Orange County Fair runs from July 13 to August 12.
A contributing writer for OC Weekly, Anne Marie freelances for multiple online and print publications, and guest judges for culinary competitions. A Bay Area transplant, she graduated with a degree in Hospitality Management from Cal Poly Pomona. Find her on Instagram as brekkiefan.