Chikin

The Recipe of the Month is Korean Fried Chikin. While fast food fried chicken, particularly Kentucky Fried Chicken, is popular throughout the world, in South Korea "KFC" stands for "Korean Fried Chicken" and its consumption has become a very popular cultural phenomenon there. Sweet, savory and crunchy, it is the "go to" night snack to be enjoyed with co-workers, friends, lovers and beer!

The Recipe of the Month is Korean Fried Chikin . While fast food fried chicken, particularly Kentucky Fried Chicken, is popular throughout the world, in South Korea "KFC" stands for "Korean Fried Chicken" and its consumption has become a very popular cultural phenomenon there. Sweet, savory and crunchy, it is the "go to" night snack to be enjoyed with co-workers, friends, lovers and beer!

Korean fried chicken (a.k.a. "chikin") is an exceedingly popular snack food in Korea. There are more than one dishes that fall into this category. Ganjangmaneul (간장마늘치킨), yangnyeom (양념치킨) and dakgangjeong (닭강정) all fall under the umbrella term "chikin", but there are three distinct varieties. Deep-frying of chicken was introduced to Korea in the 1940's and 50's. During the Korean War American servicemen introduced American fried chicken, but it was not immediately popular. In the late 70's and early 80's Korean style fried chicken, consisting of individual pieces of chicken coated in spicy, sweet and savory sauces really took hold as part of the cuisine. The boom in Korean fried chicken consumption coincided with the Korean immigration boom in the United States. Greater exposure of Koreans and Korean Americans to American fried chicken no doubt influenced the development of peninsular versions.

For Korean "chikin", both battered and non-battered versions, the chicken is double fried to achieve its distinctive hard and crispy crust. The initial fry (blanching), gently cooks the chicken throughout while second fry creates the desired crispiness of the crust. Another advantage of this method is that the resulting is less oily. After frying he chicken is coated with seasoned sauce, a departure from typical American fried chicken.

The tenderness of Korean style fried chicken results from the use of smaller, younger chickens. Unlike American fried chicken the Korean version uses small cuts of chicken. The breasts and thighs (if used) are often halved to decrease the cooking time and provide easier to eat pieces. Drumsticks and wings are favored due to their portability and shorter cook times.

The cooking method for all three styles of Korean fried chicken is the same, what varies are the sauces. Ganjangmaneul relies on soy sauce and garlic to create a mild savory-sweet taste. Yangnyeom style uses chili based products like gochugang and gochugaru to give a vibrant color and flavor to the chicken. The style in following recipe, dakgangjeong, achieves a balance between the savory, sweet and spicy by using soy sauce, garlic, Korean rice syrup and dried chilies. Unlike the other two styles of Korean Chicken, Dakganjeong is fried without a batter. Instead the pieces of chicken (bone-in or boneless) are marinated and then coated with potato starch (or corn starch) before frying. This method creates a crispy crust that lasts for many hours, even if it is refrigerated. The dried chilies used for this recipe are known as Japone, Hontaka, Santaka or Oriental style chilies which originate in Mexico but are a very popular chili used throughout East Asia. They can be readily found in both Mexican and Asian grocery stores. Toasted sesame seeds can also be found in Asian grocery stores. Korean rice syrup can be found in Korean markets such as Zion Market on Clairemont Mesa Blvd.

These dishes and other fried foods are commonly enjoyed with beer in Korea, in fact on the streets of Seoul this combination is known as chimaek a portmanteau of the work chicken and the Korean word for beer, maekju. Urban Korean's drink more alcohol than any nationality in the world Recently the dish has become extremely popular in China too. So pop the top on an ice cold lager, fry up some Korean chikin and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • ¾ cup potato starch
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/3 cup peanuts, shelled and skins off
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sauce:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce (light)
  • ½ cup Korean rice syrup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 10 dried japone chilies, seeded and cut into 1/8 in lengths
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic

Preperartion

  1. Marinate the chicken for 1 hour in the soy, ginger, salt and pepper.
  2. Drain the chicken and pat dry. (important step, otherwise the result will not be crispy enough)
  3. Fill a large pot halfway with oil and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Add potato starch to a bowl and then coat the individual pieces of chicken with the starch by pressing the starch onto the skin.
  5. Once oil is hot, fry the chicken in small batches for 5 minutes, transferring each piece to a wire rack when done.
  6. After all chicken is fried once, reheat the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and fry the pieces of chicken for 3 to 5 minutes more.
  7. In a sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, chilies, and garlic. Sauté until fragrant, (about 30 seconds to 1 minute).
  8. Add soy sauce, rice syrup and vinegar to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened.
  9. Add brown sugar to the pan and bring to a boil again.
  10. Turn off the heat and allow to rest for 2 minutes.
  11. In the hot oil, fry the peanuts until just toasted, 1 minute.
  12. Combine chicken, peanuts and sauce in a bowl. Toss to coat and garnish with sesame seeds.

Recipe and photo by Liam Fox

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