Fried chicken is one of the trickiest dishes to get right. If you’ve ever tried to make it yourself, you know that there is a seemingly endless array of pitfalls that can completely ruin an otherwise perfectly fried chicken: It can be greasy and oil-soaked, the breading can burn, the chicken can be undercooked or dried out, the breading can fall off entirely, the skin can be flabby, the coating can be mushy. That’s why we worship at the altar of restaurants that get it right. While we tend to think of fried chicken as a purely American phenomenon, it’s also really popular in parts of Asia, and the version they’re making in South Korea is nothing short of fried chicken perfection.
If you’ve already tried the Korean fried chicken at chains like Bonchon, Kyochon, or BB.Q Chicken, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s supremely crispy and crunchy with not a trace of sogginess or greasiness (even when eaten out of the fridge cold the next day), the meat is tender and moist, and it can be coated in a selection of tasty sauces that somehow don’t decrease the crispiness either. If you haven’t had it, we really suggest you seek it out.
So what’s the deal with Korean fried chicken? What’s the secret to its supreme crispiness? The popular chains will never reveal their secrets, but the general gist of the recipe is out there if you know where to look (in this case, a 2007 New York Times article). Chicken pieces are dredged in a small amount of fine flour before being dipped in a very thin batter and deep-fried at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Here’s where the magic happens: After resting for a couple minutes, the chicken goes back into the fryer for another 10 minutes. The resulting chicken has a smooth golden brown crust (the rest between fries slows down the cooking process so everything cooks evenly), and it’s simply tossed with salt and pepper or dipped in a sauce that’s sweet, sticky, and a little spicy; when done properly, the sauce is absorbed but doesn’t make the chicken soggy. It’s a work of art, and you can make your very own batch at home by using this recipe. And click here to learn which 75 fried chicken spots are America’s best!