Saveur (March 2010)
Attention, Korean Residents of Washington, D.C.: Why have you been holding out on us?? How is it that we've never heard of Korean Fried Chicken? And how soon can we make it again?!
We've already mentioned how much we enjoyed Saveur's Los Angeles issue this month. It's full of amazing food finds from L.A., including Evan Kleiman's Pollo Arrosto, which just blew us away when we made it.
But there was one other recipe in this issue of Saveur that had our tongues wagging: Korean Fried Chicken.
Spicy and sweet with the promise of a crispy, crackly skin? We were sold!
Let's jump ahead to the end result, shall we? This fried chicken is absolutely one of the best things we've made in a very long time.
Seriously, it's a knock-out dish. When we bit into our first piece, we both just started laughing because it was just so unbelievably delicious!
Okay, backing up a little:
For those who have not had it, Korean Fried Chicken is a double-fried piece of chicken that is then dunked in a sweet and spicy sauce. For the sauce, this recipe calls for gojujang, a spicy Korean chile paste. We were all set to head out to the 'burbs to hit up the H Mart (a nationwide chain of Asian food markets we've always wanted to check out), but we were actually able to find this product much closer to our apartment. In fact, there's an Asian food store about three blocks from our place.
However you spell it, the gojujang has a very distinctive flavor -- hot and spicy, with a darker, fermented taste as well. And since it carries a lot of the weight in this recipe, we think it's important to actually find the genuine article, rather than subbing in some other Asian sauce.
The good news is that finding the gojujang is the hardest part of this recipe. Cooking this chicken takes surprisingly little time. There's no marinating or anything -- by the time your oil is heated, you're ready to cook the chicken. (One note: The recipe calls for using chicken wings, but we opted instead for "drumettes," the mini chicken legs. As you can see from the Saveur photo below, they didn't limit themselves to wings, either. Whatever you want to use will be fine, but we loved the little drumettes.)
From then, it's just a matter of frying the chicken for 8 minutes, letting it drain on paper towels, then frying it again.
And that right there is the secret to this recipe: double-frying. This chicken has the absolute crispiest, crackliest chicken skin we've ever eaten. Seriously, it's life-changing.
And once the chicken's fried, you simply toss it in the delicious sauce made of the gojujang, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey. It's sweet and tangy, and the spicy gojujang nicely balances the honey.
This chicken is truly, completely irresistible. And we can't wait to make it again!
Canola oil, for frying
5 cloves garlic
1 1 1⁄2" piece peeled ginger
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. gojujang (Korean chile paste)
1 1⁄2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. Asian sesame oil
1 tbsp. honey
2⁄3 cup flour
1 tbsp. cornstarch
16 chicken wings (about 1 3⁄4 lbs.)
1. Pour oil into a 6-qt. pot to a depth of 2". Heat over medium-high heat until a thermometer reads 350˚. Chop garlic and ginger in a food processor. Add soy, gojujang, vinegar, sesame oil, and honey; purée. Put sauce into a bowl.2. Whisk flour, cornstarch, and 2⁄3 cup water in another bowl. Add chicken; toss. Working in 3 batches, fry chicken until golden, 6–8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Return oil to 350˚. Fry chicken until crisp, 6–8 minutes more. Drain again. Toss chicken in sauce.