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Ultimate KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

Try this recipe for Ultimate KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) from Judy Joo's cookbook, 'Korean Food Made Simple'
Ultimate KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

Jean Cazals

Ultimate KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

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.


For the coating:

  • 1/4 Cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 chicken drumsticks, 2 thighs, and 4 wings (with tips)

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 3 Tablespoons Korean chile paste (gochujang)
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the batter:

  • 1/2 Cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 Cup fine matzo meal
  • 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons gochugaru (Korean chile flakes)
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 Cup vodka (or any neutral-tasting 40 proof alcohol)
  • 2 Tablespoons gochujang (Korean chile paste)


For the coating:

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. 

For the barbecue sauce:

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.

For the batter:

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. 

Nutritional Facts
Calories Per Serving714
Total Fat46g71%
Vitamin A79µg9%
Vitamin B120.5µg7.8%
Vitamin B60.5mg23.2%
Vitamin C7mg11%
Vitamin E8mg38%
Vitamin K9µg11%
Folate (food)15µgN/A
Folate equivalent (total)36µg9%
Folic acid12µgN/A
Niacin (B3)5mg24%
Riboflavin (B2)0.3mg14.9%
Sugars, added7gN/A
Thiamin (B1)0.2mg11.4%