11 August 2011

Double Take: Almost Bourdain's KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

Sticky, yummy, messy Korean Fried Chicken

Tabitha and I are finally getting around to making a recipe that has been going around the blogosphere for as long as we’ve been food blogging: Korean Fried Chicken. With all the hype, I wasn’t quite certain how I would like it. I also wasn’t totally convinced that I had access to the key ingredient: gochujang. So when Tabitha added it to our “to-make” list, I decided to look for it. Turns out, it was relatively easy to find since Ellie at Almost Bourdain had actually taken a picture of the container. If she hadn’t, I’m sure I wouldn’t have agreed to post this recipe since nothing in the store actually said “gochujang.” My smart phone came to the rescue and Wikipedia informed me that its name is also Hot Pepper Paste. The Asian store in Jena is quite small, but its shelves are also packed to the brim. Yay! Now I just had to figure out when to make it…

A couple weeks after that, Bender and I hung out with The Dude and his friend Awesome in the next town over, Weimar. Awesome and I immediately hit it off. She mentioned that she had just made a batch of kimchi, and I went into planning mode. Kimchi is Korean, KFC is Korean, and I also wanted to make Mandu, Korean style dumplings. She agreed that a Korean cooking night was an excellent idea, and we set the date then and there.

Korean Fried Chicken (KFC Recipe)
adapted from Ellie (Almost Bourdain), originally from Gourmet Traveller Magazine September 2010 issue
Serves 6 as a snack

Gourmet Traveller – “This chicken is fried twice (or if you like, thrice) to become extra crisp. Toss it through the sauce after it's fried - thoroughly messy, but seriously good.”

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying (make sure you have several cups available)
2 kg chicken pieces (drumsticks and wings) (I used all drumsticks)
Thinly sliced spring onion, to serve

1 cup (115 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg white, lightly beaten
¾ cup cold water
salt and pepper to taste

Chili sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
10 g ginger (about 2 cm) piece, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ cup (65 gm) gochujang (also called hot pepper paste, available in Asian markets)

For chili sauce, combine ingredients in a large bowl, season to taste with freshly ground pepper and set aside.

For batter, whisk flour, cornstarch, egg white, and cold water in bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. If your batter is a little thick when you pull out your chicken, wipe some of it off with your fingers. The thinner the coating, the crispier your chicken will be.

Preheat oil in a deep-sided saucepan* to 180°C/350°F**. Dip chicken pieces in batter and deep-fry in batches, turning occasionally until light golden (5-6 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper until cooled slightly (10-15 minutes). (Since I had to do this in several batches, when I took one batch out, I’d put the next one in. When the second batch was done, I’d swap it out with the first batch for its second fry.)

Deep-fry chicken again, in batches, until crisp and deep golden (6-8 minutes), drain on a cooling rack set over absorbent paper (newspaper, paper bags, etc) or a pan to catch the drippings. Then add to sauce, toss to coat and serve hot topped with spring onion.

*I’ve been using a tip from Paula Deen for frying chicken recently. I use a Dutch oven and fill it with enough oil to completely submerge the chicken. When the chicken goes in, the lid goes on top, and I don’t have to worry about flipping the chicken. My kitchen also remains slightly less messy this way.

**I do not have a thermometer for this, so I just used my normal temp for frying (4.5 out of 6 on the stove dial). I fried for 8 minutes, rested the chicken for 8 minutes, and fried again for 8 minutes. The drumsticks were perfectly cooked through. I also find it best to use a timer when frying chicken. Otherwise I have the tendency to over- or undercook. 

Korean Fried Chicken, Kimchi, Spicy Noodle Salad, Green Beans

Hello Taste Buds! I’m sorry I singed you a bit, but it sure was worth it, wasn’t it?

I do recommend letting your guests dip their own chicken so they can get it to the proper heat. Or, you could split the sauce into two batches and thin one out with plain yogurt so it’s slightly less spicy. For me, though, the heat was perfect! Awesome liked a little less sauce on hers and Bender preferred his with no sauce at all. All of us immensely enjoyed the chicken, particularly once I learned to wipe the excess batter off the chicken before gently lowering it into the hot oil.

And the double fry method? I haven’t used it again, but I’m not against it either. The Korean fried chicken was perfectly crisp and your teeth just shatter the crust when you bite into it. Perfect! Bender prefers my normal fried chicken method, but still really enjoyed this batch, too. And I’m sure if I thought to season the batter he would have preferred it a bit more. Overall, this recipe was a win all the way around!

It’s-a-little-hot-but-very-tasty: 1 vote!
This-KFC-is-perfection: 2 votes!
I-prefer-your-normal-fried-chicken-but-this-is-pretty-good: 1 vote!

For Tabitha's take on Korean Fried Chicken, head on over to Double the Garlic!

Did I mention Awesome brought a noodle salad AND homemade kimchi?


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