For those who think fried chicken is a strictly Southern thing, it might be time to expand your horizons. Koreans have their own style of fried chicken, which is rapidly making inroads Stateside and which is absolutely delicious. Though it's similar enough to its U.S. counterpart, it also has a hallmark cooking technique that differentiates it and gives the chicken an amazing texture: double frying.
Much like perfect french fries, double-frying ensures that the chicken is completely cooked through in the first stage and perfectly crisped in the second. Rather than let the crackling thick skin just be, as on Southern fried chicken, the Korean version allows it to absorb an intoxicating cocktail of flavors: ginger, soy, sesame oil, honey, and the one hard-to-find ingredient, gojujang, a pungent, spicy bean paste. (Look for it in an Asian grocery store; or, you can order it online here or here.)
The result is a marvelous combination of flavor and texture: juicy, crisp, sweet, and hot.
Korean Fried Chicken
- 16 chicken wings
- Canola oil, for frying
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2-inch piece peeled ginger
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2⁄3 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Remove the tip of each chicken wing and cut in half at the joint to create 2 pieces. In a heavy pot such as a dutch oven, pour in canola oil to a depth of 2 inches. Heat over medium-high until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°F.
In the meantime, pulse the ginger and garlic in a food processor until minced, then add the soy, gojujang, vinegar, oil, and honey. (You might start with half the gojujang and then add it to taste; different brands have varying levels of spiciness).
In a large bowl, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and water together to make a loose paste. Add the chicken wings and toss well to coat. Fry the chicken in batches for 6 minutes, until golden, then drain on paper towels and bring the oil back up to 350°F. Fry for a second time until it is crisp, 6 to 8 minutes more. Drain on paper towels, toss with the sauce, and serve.