This chicken is inspired by the well-named “Famous Garlic Aromatic Crispy Chicken” at Wu’s Wonton King in New York City. The key to the perfect texture, browned skin and shreddable meat is starting at a super-high heat and dropping the temp the second that the bird goes into the oven. The glaze requires a few rounds of shellacking before it sticks, so, uh, stick with it. And because you have this sticky chicken skin, you need exxxxxtra crunch for textural contrast in the form of fried shallot, garlic and ginger.
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper, really getting into all of the crevices. Let the chicken hang out for at least 1 hour at room temperature, which will help the meat absorb the salt. If you can season a few days in advance and let rest, uncovered, in the fridge, even better.
In a small skillet over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce and stir to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and cook until you see lots of big bubbles and the mixture has thickened just enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Pour this glaze into a small bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet and set aside for later.
If you notice any beads of water on the chicken skin that may have released after you seasoned it, pat it dry with a paper towel to help it brown. Place the chicken in a large cast-iron skillet and rub it all over with the 2 tablespoons neutral oil.
Slide the skillet onto the oven’s center rack, so the chicken legs are facing toward the back (this is the hottest part of the oven and will help the legs cook before the breast dries out) and turn the temperature to 325 F. Roast the chicken , brushing with the glaze two or three times, until the skin is glossy, sticky, and the flesh is cooked through, 80 to 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining 1/4 cup neutral oil into the reserved skillet and add the shallot rings, garlic, and chopped ginger. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring to make sure everything is crisping evenly, until the shallot and garlic are golden brown and crisp and the ginger has slightly darkened, 7 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the crispy bits from the oil and scatter them over a paper towel to drain. Season with salt while it’s still hot.
Pull the chicken from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes, so the juices can redistribute (nonnegotiable). Carve the chicken and place it on a platter, topping it with the crispy bits plus cilantro, pickled scallions, and pickled ginger. Serve with rice on the side.