Ultimate Korean Fried Chicken

Being American, I have always loved fried chicken. Korean Fried Chicken, the better KFC, has been gaining wide popularity in its many forms. The difference is in the very thin crisp skin. The spicy sauce can either be drizzled on top or kept on the side. As a kid, I used to just eat the skin off fried chicken-- it's the best part! My version has the thinnest crispiest crust ever.

TOTAL TIME: 26 hr 45 min
Prep: 1 hr 5 min
Inactive Prep: 25 hr
Cook: 40 min
 
YIELD: 4 servings
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

PICKLED RADISH CUBES:
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 pound (about 500 grams) daikon radish, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
PRE-COATING:
  • 1/4 cup (32 grams) cornstarch or corn flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 10 grinds black pepper
  • 2 chicken drumsticks, 2 thighs and 4 wings with tips (bone in, skin on)
  • Oil, for frying
BATTER:
  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) cornstarch or corn flour
  • 1/4 cup (34 grams) fine matzo meal
  • 1/4 cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Korean chile flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic granules
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons onion granules
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (237 grams) water
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) vodka
  • 2 tablespoons Korean chile paste (gochujang)
KOREAN BBQ SAUCE:
  • 3 tablespoons Korean chile paste (gochujang)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 packed tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
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Directions

Make the pickled radish cubes: Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl, whisking until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the radish and toss to coat. Leave at room temperature, covered, for 24 hours. Then refrigerate.

Make the pre-coating: In a large bowl, whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Add the chicken and toss well until evenly coated in all areas. Transfer the chicken to a rack, shaking the chicken well to get rid of any excess coating. Let rest uncovered for 1 hour.

Pour enough oil into a 6-quart Dutch oven to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).

Make the batter: In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Just before frying, whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture. The consistency should be relatively thin and runny. Working in two batches, dip each piece of chicken into the batter, letting excess batter drip off. Suspend the chicken in the oil for a couple of seconds for it to set before letting it slip completely into the oil, otherwise the chicken will fall and stick to the bottom of the pot. Fry the chicken until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes per batch. Transfer to a wire rack to drain as done.

Make the BBQ sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve the chicken with the BBQ sauce, pickled radish and beer.

Notes

The batter's dry and wet ingredients can be assembled but not mixed together ahead of time. Whisk the wet and dry ingredients right before youre ready to fry the chicken, otherwise the batter may thicken too much. Cook the chicken in batches, cooking the drumsticks and thighs together as one batch and the wings as a separate batch. Loosen the BBQ sauce with a little water if you want to drizzle the sauce or glaze the chicken.

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  • on October 05, 2014

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    I loved it and so did my family. This time I would use smaller pieces,wings and thighs I think would be best. I didn't make the radish dish,but I made a slaw with rice vinegar ,soy,brown sugar dressing.

    Tasty and Crunchy, Great dish.

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  • on September 04, 2014

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    I used wingettes for this recipe and it turn out so flavorful! The outside was crunchy in a good way and the meat was moist. I followed the rest of the recipe exactly as written and it wasn't too spicy. In fact, next time I may add more gochujung. The radish pickles was even better after a few days; really a nice balance of sweet and tart. I was eating it on its own for about a week. I recommend that it's stored in a glass jar with a tight seal though. It has a very pungent odor!

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  • on June 25, 2014

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    The beauty of this recipe is it has something for everyone. If you have kids who don't like spicy, they can eat the fried chicken alone with compliments to the chef. If you are looking for a change, the sauce gives the chicken the kick to make it different and delicious. I agree the pickles are just okay if you eat them alone. But compared to other Asian pickles, they are sweeter and milder, which is the perfect balance for the spicy chicken. Dip the chicken in the spicy sauce and take a bite of the radish with the bland white rice. That's Asian food at it's best.

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