A thin, crackly batter for maximum crunch. A spicy, sweet sauce that will leave you licking your fingers. Fried chicken at its best.
During the Korean War, American troops were stationed throughout the country. They all craved the same thing: food from home. So, South Korean restaurants started catering to their new clientele. But with their Korean twist.
That’s how Korean Fried Chicken became a thing. American soldiers wanted fried chicken and Korean restaurants started making it. Albeit, their own version of it.
How was Korean Fried Chicken different? It was fried twice, for maximum crunch and crispiness. It was also coated in a thin, crackly batter — much less thick than the American version. And less greasy, too. Sauce was kind of a big deal so Korean restaurants started offering different kinds, as well as plain.
Now, you can make this at home. First, marinate the chicken.
Right before frying, add the potato starch. That’s what makes Korean Fried Chicken so crispy and crunchy. (You can substitute with corn starch but regular flour will not produce the same result.)
Fry the chicken wings twice. The first fry will result in golden and crispy looking wings:
The second fry will result in darker, golden-brown wings and a crunchier coating:
Make the sauce. Coat the chicken wings in the sauce. Garnish and serve. Enjoy!
- 2 lb chicken wings
- 11/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp curry powder (optional)
- 1/2 cup potato starch or corn starch
- 1/4 cup neutral oil (I used grapeseed oil)
- 2-3 Tbsp chile flakes from Asian Grocer depending on taste
- 1 inch ginger minced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- sesame seeds
- 1 green onion chopped
- 1 Tbsp cilantro chopped
Place chicken wings in a large bowl. Add garlic, curry powder, and salt. Mix throughly. Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight. If cooking right away, do not refrigerate but keep at room temperature.
Right before frying, add potato starch and mix thoroughly with your hands. The potato starch should stick to the chicken wings in a thick coating. Feel free to pat the starch onto the chicken wings firmly with your hands.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Set aside.
Attach a thermometer to the side of a deep, cast iron Dutch oven, if you have it. Another alternative is a regular pot with high sides. Add 2-3 inches of neural cooking oil with a high smoking point. I use grapeseed oil. The goal is to add enough oil for the chicken wings to float in the pot and not stick to the bottom.
Wait until the oil temperature reaches 380F.
Fry the chicken wings in batches until all the wings are golden and crispy, about 10-12 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Now it’s time for the second fry. Wait until the oil temperature reaches 380F. Fry the (already-fried) chicken wings in batches until they are darker and golden-brown in color, about 10-12 minutes per batch. Drain and set aside.
Add corn syrup, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Mix throughly with a spoon and set aside.
Prepare the minced garlic and ginger. Set aside.
Heat a wok or deep stock pot over medium-high heat and add oil. When hot but not smoking, add chile flakes, garlic, and ginger. Mix around with a spatula or wooden spoon until fragrant and crispy looking, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the soy sauce mixture and mix until the sauce bubbles vigorously, about 2-4 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Add the chicken wings and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until each wing is coated in sauce. Heap onto a platter and garnish with sesame seeds and green onion and/or cilantro Serve with rice, kimchi, and beer.
*Do your best to maintain the heat at 380F during the frying, adjusting the heat from time to time. There will be an initial dip to a lower temperature in the beginning but the heat should climb back up to 380F. Raise the heat, if necessary.
**During the second frying, the heat will not dip down as dramatically when you add the chicken wings to the oil. Watch carefully that the oil temperature doesn’t exceed 400F.
Interested in reading + cooking more Korean food and history?
Try making Budae Jjigae aka Army Base Stew for your next dinner party.
Or, read about Kimchi and its origins.