Move over, Colonel and KFC. Your days are through.
Because Korean deep-fried chicken is taking your place!
Whilst not a ‘traditional’ dish (in that the history of the dish comes from the influence of the US in Sth Korea rather than from hundreds of years and generations of perfection), this is still a food that has been around in the country for certainly almost as long as I’ve been alive, and as such, every family has their own unique twist to how they make it.
This is a recipe that my mother somehow put together and has worked on during my lifetime – the flavours in the dish have morphed so slowly that I can’t really remember what it tasted like the first time I made it. However, the current method we use is just so popular with friends and family that I’m fairly sure my mother is happy enough to now leave it be!
But then again, this *is* my mother we’re talking about…
Anyway, on to the recipe!
Our ‘Secret’ Recipe – Korean spicy deep-fried chicken
Chicken Marinade Ingredients
3kg chicken wings
1 cup milk (can substitute with soy milk if lactose intolerant)
2 tsp salt
3 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
5 cloves garlic
1/2 finely grated brown onion
Chicken Coating Ingredients
3 tbsp Korean curry powder (Ottugi Korean curry powder is the one we use, I’ve tried other curry powders but it just doesn’t taste right)
1/2 cup potato starch
1 1/2 cup tempura flour
Tempura flour is a pre-mixed low-gluten flour that contains some seasonings and leavenings (the brand I use contains baking powder). You should be able to purchase this at any Chinese/Japanese/Korean grocery store. If you can’t find it, then substitute it with 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup corn starch, sifted together twice.
As far as Korean curry powder, I’ve only seen it stocked online or at Korean grocery stores – though your local Asian grocer might have it on the shelves if you’re lucky.
Sweet & Spicy Sauce Ingredients
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/3 cup tomato sauce (Western-style, not the Asian ones which taste completely different)
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire/Worcester Sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Important Cooking Notes:
The process to make this dish is rather long, but it important that you do not miss any of the steps as this will alter the final outcome. The difference between this dish and Western-style deep fried chicken is that it is twice-fried to give it an exterior that stays crisp and crunchy despite being left overnight in a thick, spicy sauce! Our family also prefers using a dry coating to any sort of batter, as this gives an extremely thin end coating and doesn’t compete with the flavourings of the chicken and the sauce.
Also, in case you are tempted to use larger portions of chicken – don’t. The small and fairly uniform size of chicken wings is what allows for fast and even cooking. There’s no rule that says you can’t use other cuts, but in that case, I take no responsibility for whatever happens to your cooking times and the potentially dry and/or undercooked meat you will have in the end.
The utensils you will need for this dish are:
- deep-fryer (we use a wok which we use just for deep-frying)
- wire cooking net (found in Chinese grocery stores and excellent for deep-frying) or a slotted spoon
- a large, flat, metal strainer (found in Korean grocery stores), or a few large metal colanders lined with kitchen towels
- mixing bowls
- chefs knife, meat cleaver and chopping boards
- a large, clean plastic bag
- garlic press
- Measuring spoons & cups
1. The first thing that you need to do is prepare the chicken. Of course, if you buy pre-cut and prepared chicken wings then you’re fine, but I prefer to cut and trim them myself…just because 😛
A chicken wing has three sections – the ‘drumette’, the mid-wing and the wing tip. Use your meat cleaver to cut through each joint so that each wing is cut into three pieces.
2. Once your wing has been split into three pieces, cut off any thick chunks of skin from the wingette and mid-wing (there is usually 2-3 bits that can come off, you want the remaning skin to be just paper thin segments). Discard the removed skin and wing tips as they will not be used.
3. Cut three slits into each side of the drumette and mid-wing section – this will allow the pre-frying marinade to get right into the meat to keep it moist and impart a little flavour. Once you’ve prepared all the chicken wings, set aside for now.
4. Mix up the marinade in a large bowl – milk, salt, pepper, sugar, ginger, garlic and onion. Stir to combine.
5. Add the chicken and turn a few times with your hands to ensure that the chicken is evenly covered. Allow to sit for 1 hour, then drain well for at least 15 minutes.
6. Toss together the potato starch, Korean curry powder and the tempura powder in the clean plastic bag, then add the chicken and toss it around to ensure it is evenly coated.
Preheat the oil to approx 160 degrees C. Dust off any excess flour from each chicken piece, then add a few pieces to the hot oil (being careful not to overcrowd as this will make the temperature of the oil drop and affect the cooking process). Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side to ensure even cooking.
7. Once the chicken has been deep-fried for about 10 minutes and is very lightly golden, use the slotted spoon to remove from the oil and place in your metal strainer/colander to cool. Try and keep the chicken pieces in a single layer – this avoids oil dripping from piece to piece during the cooling process, and also allows steam to escape so that the chicken coating stays crisp. Allow the chicken to sit and drain for about 10 minutes.
8. Increase the temperature of the oil to 180 degrees C, and fry the chicken for a second time for another 8-10 minutes, or until each piece is golden brown in colour (the picture below and to the right shows the colour difference between the first fry and second fry).
Once all the chicken pieces have been deep-fried for a second time, set aside on your metal strainer/colander.
9. While the chicken is resting, finely dice 1 1/2 onions and saute in a a frying pan with a little olive oil.
10. Once the onion is soft, add the ketchup (tomato sauce), sweet chilli sauce, water, Worcestershire/Worcester Sauce and chilli flakes. NOTE – add chilli flakes according to taste. If you’re a wuss when it comes to things hot & spicy, then you should reduce the amount to 1 tsp. If you love your chilli, you could even bump this up to 3 tsp (no more though, as this is a very strong sauce as it is). Allow the sauce to simmer until slightly thickened.
11. Once the sauce is ready, add a few chicken pieces at a time to the sauce and give them just a very thin coating of sauce – if there is too much, then it will overpower all the other flavours in the dish.
Plate up and enjoy with rice, banchan, and lots of pickles (which will be a post all of their own!)
As far as garnishes are concerned, you should stick with finely sliced spring onion or toasted sesame seeds…but it’s really not necessary, as once people catch a whiff of the amazing smell of this dish, I doubt you’ll have time to garnish before they start digging in!
As for those leftover wing tips? Well, why not give them to your friendly neighbourhood dog? I know Mr Woofy certainly wouldn’t say more to a few more such morsels 🙂
[tags]chicken wings, spicy, deep fried, Korean recipe, brothers, golden retrievers[/tags]