I have always loved fried chicken. But even though I grew up eating it in America, for me “KFC,” stands for Korean fried chicken. There are many different versions, but what they all have in common is a very thin, hard crisp coating, which comes from using potato starch or cornstarch instead of flour, as well as double frying. My take on the dish, which includes vodka and matzo meal, is a little unorthodox and has a fair number of ingredients, but I call it “ultimate” for a reason. Two things make it even better: its customary accompaniment of cubed pickled radish and ice-cold beer.
Excerpted from KOREAN FOOD MADE SIMPLE © 2016 by Judy Joo. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
In a large bowl, stir together the cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and a generous amount of pepper.
Add the chicken and toss to coat. Transfer the chicken to a wire rack, shaking each piece to remove any excess coating. Let sit, uncovered, at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. The sauce can be either served with the chicken or drizzled over it. If you prefer the latter, remove it from the heat on the early side so it’s a little thinner. Set aside; the sauce is best warm or at room temperature.
Shortly before cooking, in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot at least 5 inches deep, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.
While the oil is heating, in a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, matzo meal, flour, chile flakes, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and baking powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the vodka, chile paste, and 1 cup water.
Right before you’re ready to fry the chicken, whisk the vodka mixture into the cornstarch mixture. (Don’t do this in advance or the resulting batter may thicken too much as it sits. The consistency should be relatively thin and runny.)
Working in two batches, with the legs and thighs together as one batch and the wings as the other, dip each piece of chicken into the batter, letting any excess drip off. Suspend the chicken in the oil for a couple of seconds to set the crust before letting it slip completely into the oil; otherwise, it will stick to the bottom of the pot. Fry the chicken, flipping halfway through, until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate to drain. Let the oil return to 350 degrees F before cooking the second batch.
Serve the chicken with the BBQ sauce either drizzled on top or on the side.