I went to bed last night stuffed to the gills, but also a little giddy about the left-overs I’d have for lunch today. Dinner was that good!
How could I have not loved it? It was fried chicken, after all. And my love affair with fried chicken – from Popeyes to General Gau’s – is well documented. The recipe came from a recent article in the New York Times about fried chicken that showcased variations of the classic Southern as well as a Korean version.
I didn’t have the Korean chili paste that the recipe called for. But with a little research, I discovered that it is a spicy bean paste. I had sriracha (Thai Chili Paste) and sweet bean sauce (a Chinese condiment), and blended the two. I used my homemade ketchup which had a nice balance of warm spice.
I’ve struggled over the years to get my general gau’s chicken to stay crispy after it’s been tossed in the sauce. Only once did I achieve that. With this recipe, the chicken is tossed in a mix of corn starch *and* wheat flour. This made a huge difference in crisp-maintenance.
Traditional Fried Chicken is often served with cole slaw. Inspired by Cooking with Amy’s recipe for raw Brussels sprouts, I made an Asian flavored slaw with shredded brussels sprouts.
Korean Fried Chicken
Adapted from Quick and Easy Korean Cooking by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
Time: 30 minutes, plus one hour’s marinating
1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 scallions, cut into rings
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
3 tablespoons Korean chili paste (gojuchang), or a blend of Chinese Bean Sauce and Sriracha
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, 1/2 of the scallions, 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. 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 and scallions.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.