Five Boroughs' Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love fried chicken? It’s well up there with pizza as one of the greatest foods in the world, in my eyes anyway. I can’t say I am much of an expert on the matter. I don’t eat a lot of fried chicken, although I’d love to, but it doesn’t take an expert to know when you’ve lucked on to a good one. It will be crispy on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside, it will be seasoned with the right amount of spice, and you won’t want to stop at one piece. Especially when it comes with spicy pickled watermelon rind and smoked maple syrup like it does at Five Boroughs in Wellington. Best I’ve ever had.

I should disclose that Elie and Bryn are dear friends of my family, so my opinion may be a little biased. But you can rest assured that I am a woman of strong opinions, and if I didn’t like what they did, I wouldn’t pretend to just because I know them. Trust me.

Eating at Five Boroughs makes you feel like it's your birthday. The menu is stacked with comforting classics and the worst thing that will happen to you there is struggling to decide what to order. The boys spend a lot of time workshopping their recipes and making sure everything has a je ne sais quoi that sets them apart from the rest. So it's fair enough that they closely guard the spice mix for their chicken and some of their other trademark recipes in order to keep the mystery alive. 

At 5B they are making their own kimchi, pickling their watermelon rind and reducing the braising liquor from their corned beef as a base for their “platinum mayo”. Now if you’re just a regular guy who’s sitting at home craving a fried chicken sandwich then ain’t no one got no time for all that. So we’ve simplified this recipe right down, but it will get you close enough to the real thing.   

Serve this sandwich with a side of watermelon and a few pickle backs and you will be a happy, happy man.   

A spicy sandwich good enough to marry 

Makes 4 

For the chicken

4 chicken breasts

1 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon of your favourite hot sauce

2 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, ground paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder and onion powder, salt and pepper

Neutral oil, to shallow-fry


Kimchi slaw

2 cups of slaw mix (red and white cabbage and carrot)

2 radishes, julienned

½ cup of kimchi, chopped

1/2 cup of fresh pineapple, chopped

 ¼ cup of pickled watermelon rind (Optional but highly recommended, check this recipe over here)

¼ cup of mayonnaise

¼ cup of natural yoghurt


Spicy mayo

½ cup mayonnaise mixed with ¼ cup hot sauce (Franks or similar would be good here)


8 slices of rye bread, or 4 burger buns

Dill pickle for garnish 


  • Cut each chicken breast in to two crossways and give each piece a bit of a bash with a mallet to thin it out a bit. Mix together the buttermilk and hot sauce, toss with the chicken pieces, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Mix the flour with all of the spices. Drain the buttermilk off the chicken and toss two pieces of chicken at a time in the flour, shaking around to coat it well. Remove and shake off any excess, then repeat with remaining chicken pieces until they are all coated.
  • Heat 3cm of oil in a large heavy-based frypan over medium-high heat to 180C (a cube of bread will turn golden in 30 seconds when the oil is hot enough).
  • Cook the chicken pieces, in batches for 4-5 minutes each side until well-browned and cooked through.
  • Place on kitchen towel to drain and keep warm until ready to use. 
  • Mix together the mayo and yoghurt for the slaw until combined. Add the rest of the slaw ingredients and give them a bloody good toss. 
  • Toast your bread of choice and slather all pieces with spicy mayo. Pile some slaw on the bottom piece, top with two pieces of chicken, finish with a healthy squirt of spicy mayo and more hot sauce if you wish. Top with the other piece of bread.
  • Fall in love.