Food: Crispy Korean chicken wings have zing
Inspirations for what's for dinner often come during dinner the night before. Over a perfectly executed plate of pad Thai, my husband began describing a dish that he read about that made my mouth water — between bites of noodles, of course.
I knew what he was referring to, but it was fun listening to him describe a crispy chicken dish that is fried twice and served with a hot sauce.
What is known as Korean fried chicken is a popular bar snack that's been around for years. This recipe is inspired by the popular Korean Chicken wing craze from chains such as Kyochon and Bon Chon. It's very lightly breaded in a light flour, double fried for a crispy skin and glazed with a spicy ginger soy sauce. The double frying renders out the fat and makes the skin deliciously crispy. I decided that would be a great meal.
Neither of us are really fans of wings, however, so I decided to use cubed boneless chicken breasts as a substitute. Then I went on a quest to find the Korean condiment gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) that is crucial to make this dish authentic. Sadly, I came up empty-handed, but I did some research and found a way to make something similar using red pepper flakes, soy sauce and a dash of ketchup.
Served with white rice and garlic green beans, dinner the next night was amazing. And let me just say that it's way more fun watching him enjoy the meal rather than describing it. Now all I need to do is find gochujang, because I want to make it as authentic as I can. Who knows? I might even use wings.
Sweet Crispy Chicken
Recipe adapted from koreanbapsang.com. Look for the Korean condiment gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) at Chinese or Korean markets or make a similar substitute — see below.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh and/or breast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/3 cup cornstarch
Canola oil for deep frying
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) See Note.
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts (or almonds) for garnish
Soak the chicken pieces in milk for at least 2 hours in the fridge.
Drain thoroughly. Remove any visible fat. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Mix with the salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger. Let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes.
In a pan, add all the sauce ingredients, and stir well. Bring it to a boil. When it starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until it thickens slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat off.
Add the cornstarch to the chicken, and mix well to coat evenly.
Add about 1 inch of oil to a heavy bottom pan. When the oil is sufficiently hot (350°F or starts smoking), drop the chicken pieces in one at a time. Fry them in two batches. Overcrowding will drop the oil temperature too quickly. Cook until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and set them on a wire rack or a paper towel-lined plate.
Reheat the oil to 350 degrees. Deep fry again until golden brown, about 30 to 40 seconds. You can do the second frying in one batch.
Heat the sauce over medium low heat. Add the chicken and stir well until the chicken pieces are evenly coated. Serves 3.
Note: If you are unable to find gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste), combine 1 tablespoon with red chili pepper flakes with enough soy sauce to moisten and a teaspoon of sugar (or ketchup). Stir well and let sit 30 minutes. This won't offer authentic flavor, but will enhance the dish.
Per serving: 540 calories; 25 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 42 percent calories from fat); 46 g carbohydrates; 28 g sugar; 111 mg cholesterol; 681 mg sodium; 34 g protein; 1 g fiber.