Korean Fried Chicken
Marinated, dredged and double-fried for extra crunchy chicken. Served with a sticky, sweet and spicy sauce of gochujang, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and honey.
Make the sauce and brine the chicken the day before for maximum flavor and juicier chicken.
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 tablespoon (6 g) grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons (60 g) butter
- 1/4 cup (72 g) gochujang
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) ketchup
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) MSG
FOR THE CHICKEN:
- 3 lbs. (1.5 kg) chicken pieces – drumsticks (about 8 to 12), thighs or wings
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g) black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup (90 g) corn starch
- 4 to 5 cups (about 1 liter) vegetable oil
FOR THE GARNISH:
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- Deep heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven
- Candy thermometer
- Instant-read thermometer, if possible
- Cooling rack
1. MAKE THE SAUCE.
– In a small saucepan, sauté the garlic and ginger in the butter over medium heat until fragrant.
– Add the remaining ingredients. Stir and cook until bubbling and slightly thickened.
– Set aside to cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate overnight or longer (so the flavors can meld).
- The sauce can also be used right away. (It’s delicious, but will be even better the next day!)
2. BRINE THE CHICKEN.
– Microwave 1/2 cup of the water and sugar on high for 20 seconds and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.
– Add the remaining water along with the other remaining brine ingredients and stir to combine.
– Place the chicken pieces in a large, gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Then place the bag in a large bowl or container for support and in case of leaks.
– Pour the brine into the bag. Try to squeeze out as much air as possible and seal, making sure all the chicken is completely submerged.. (See TIPS)
– Refrigerate overnight and up to 2 days. Turn the bag occasionally to flip the chicken.
3. DREDGE THE CHICKEN IN CORN STARCH. THEN LET SIT 30 TO 60 MINUTES.
– Drain the chicken from the brine. Discard the brine.
– Dredge the chicken in the corn starch and place on a rack or a plate lined with a paper towel. (See TIPS)
– Let the dredged chicken sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour, until the chicken has reached room temperature and the corn starch coating has moistened and become somewhat clumpy.
4. FRY THE CHICKEN AT 325°F (162°C) UNTIL COOKED. THEN RE-FRY AT 400°F (204°C) UNTIL CRUNCHY.
– Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven about halfway with oil, or about 2 to 3 inches worth.
– Bring the oil up to 325°F (162°C). Meanwhile, have a plate lined with paper towels and a cooling rack on a baking sheet ready nearby.
– Fry 3 or 4 pieces of chicken at a time for 9 to 11 minutes for drumsticks and thighs, or until juices run clear and the internal temperature hits 160°F (71°C). Place the fried chicken on the cooling rack.
- Do not overcrowd the pot.
- Try not to disturb the chicken too much to prevent pieces of crust from breaking off.
- Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil, turning it up and down as necessary.
- Smaller pieces such as wings, tenders or nuggets will need less cooking time.
– After frying all the chicken, skim out any fried bits from the oil, if needed, then increase the temperature to 400°F (204°C).
– Re-fry the chicken pieces for about a minute (less for smaller pieces) or until the skin is crunchy. Allow the chicken to drip over the pot before placing on paper towel-lined plates to wick away even more oil. Then place on the cooling rack.
5. WARM UP THE SAUCE. TOSS WITH THE CHICKEN TO COAT OR SERVE ON THE SIDE.
– Warm up the sweet & spicy sauce on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring until hot. Or warm up the sauce for 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring in between bursts, until hot.
– Pour the sauce over the fried chicken in a large mixing bowl and toss to coat. Or pour into little dipping bowls to serve on the side.
– Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.
– Reheat the chicken on a rack over a baking sheet at 375°F (190°C) for about 15 minutes or until completely heated through.
- If you know ahead of time that not all the chicken will be eaten, don’t toss all the chicken in the sauce. Store the chicken and the sauce separately in the refrigerator. The chicken will be crispier if reheated uncoated.
ABOUT THIS RECIPE
Korean fried chicken. What a treat! The chicken is crispy and crackly, then dipped in a sweet, spicy, super flavorful sauce. And because it’s double-fried, the chicken will stay crispy even after being tossed and coated in the sticky sauce.
Korean fried chicken is delicious served with pickled radishes, pickled cucumbers, slaw or slices of fresh Asian pear.
Here are 3 helpful tips:
1) Why brine? in a bag?
– A brine is basically a solution of water and salt. (Of course you can always add other seasonings, as well.) When you soak your chicken in a brine, the brine permeates the chicken, which then not only adds flavor to it, but also tenderizes it and helps it retain moisture when cooking, too.
– Brining your chicken in a bag and squeezing out all the air keeps the chicken completely submerged in brine. It can also be a space-saver in the fridge. (Don’t forget to flip the bag occasionally.)
– If you don’t have large Ziploc-style bags, then place the chicken and brine in a container. It should be snug. Cover with plastic wrap making full contact with the surface. Then place a plate or other kind of flat weight on top to gently press the chicken into the brine.
2) Corn starch and time makes a crispier crust.
– Coating with corn starch (as opposed to all-purpose flour) is what gives this chicken its wonderfully blistered, crispy, crackly crunch.
- TIP: One way to quickly and easily dredge your chicken pieces: Place the corn starch in a large plastic bag (or container that seals well). Place 2 or 3 pieces of chicken in the bag, twist the bag closed and shake until coated. Shake off any excess corn starch.
– Giving the corn starch time to moisten and clump on the chicken will make a crunchier crust that adheres better. Let it sit at least 30 minutes. (This gives the chicken time to come to room temperature, too, for more even cooking.)
3) Frying twice is the secret to super crispy, crackly chicken.
– The first fry at a lower temperature is for cooking the chicken and rendering the fat. Cooking at a lower temperature helps keep the chicken tender and moist.
– The second fry at a higher temperature is for pure crunchiness. The very short re-frying time really crisps up the surface without overcooking the chicken. And it will stay crunchy even when dipped in sauce.
This is what makes Korean fried chicken stand apart from other fried chicken. Enjoy!
- TIP: After the first fry, you can put off doing the second fry until right before you are ready to serve.