Korean-Style Fried Chicken

I used to post for this thing, but I quit.  Now I’m back and it feels great.

And first topic up after about seven months of hard thinking – cooking.

This recipe comes courtesy of the New York Times, which two weeks ago covered New York City’s new love for various Asian styles of fried chicken.  This recipe is meant to be a take off of Korean-style fried chicken, as it uses gojuchang chili paste, which if you trust the NYT, is commonly used in Korean cooking.  Personally, I’m a bit skeptical as to whether or not this is genuine Korean fare, as the gojuchang chili paste is mixed with equal parts ketchup.  But who am I do speculate about the authenticity of Korean cuisine?

Here’s the recipe and the link:

Time: 30 minutes, plus one hour’s marinating

1 small yellow onion, coarsely grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for coating

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for coating

8 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, quartered, or 24 wings

3 tablespoons Korean chili paste (gojuchang)

3 tablespoons ketchup

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, more for garnish

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Oil for deep frying

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cornstarch.

1. In a medium-size bowl, combine grated onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat well. Cover and set aside to marinate for about 1 hour.

2. In a large bowl, stir together chili paste, ketchup, sugar, sesame seeds and lemon juice. Taste and adjust flavors to get a spicy-sweet-tangy finish. Set aside.

3. Pour oil into a large heavy pot to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. Heat to 350 degrees. Combine flour and cornstarch in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.

4. Working in batches to avoid crowding, lift chicken from marinade, dredge lightly in seasoned flour and cornstarch, gently drop into oil and fry for 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining chicken, checking oil temperature between batches.

5. For wings only, when all pieces are done, increase oil temperature to 375 degrees and refry in batches for 30 to 60 seconds, until very crisp. Drain once more on paper towels. While chicken is still hot, brush thickly with chili sauce. Serve hot, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Tips: The people who will actually make this chicken likely do not need tips about frying, as their initiative is suggestive of a pre-existing interest in cooking.  But I’m going to give tips anyway.  First, if you don’t have a thermometer and want to test the temperature of your oil, just poke in a wooden chopstick and if bubbles shoot up after about two seconds, you’re ready to go.  If bubbles shoot up immediately, then that means the oil is too hot.  If it takes longer than three seconds, then the oil is not hot enough.

On the second fry, be prepared to fish that chicken out fast because it can burn very easily.  The recipe says to leave in for a minute, but keep it down closer to forty seconds.  The second fry is your friend, as it is the key to forming a crispy crust.  But be aware, that it can quickly turn your enemy and scorch the chicken.

These wings are wonderfully delicious, perfect for parties, and go well with beer.  So give it a shot and if you find the time, tell me what you thought in the comments section.

~Matt Savas

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