Korean Fried Chicken. Well, more like Southern style fried chicken with a Korean kick. The Colonel ain’t got shit on me. King Kong either, for that matter. Fried chicken is hands down one of my favorite foods ever. EVER. It’s probably my “if you were stuck on an island and could only eat one thing for the rest of your life…” – yes, I’d eat it forever.
This can easily work as just a simple fried chicken and it would be bad ass just as it is, but seeing as how I’m equipped with what seems like an unending supply of Korean chili flakes and sesame seeds, I figured I’d put em to good use. This would definitely be better if the bird could sit in the marinade overnight, but the couple of hours I had it in there turned out to be plenty to give it some good flavor.
First step, was to break down the birds. I started with two whole chickens that I broke down and saved the rib cages for stock I made the next day. Recipe for that to follow. I broke them down into ten pieces: two wings, two thighs, two drums, and two breasts that each got split in half. So from two chickens that cost anywhere from $5 to $10 each, you can get 20 pieces of chicken. Basically a buck a piece (at most) for some damn good chicken. I think that’s even cheaper than Popeyes…
Second move is to season the chicken and soak it in the buttermilk. This is basically combining two techniques of either brining chicken in a seasoned bath, or soaking it in buttermilk. The buttermilk helps to tenderize the chicken but if you’re only soaking it for a couple of hours it’s not going to get to do much of that work. If you soak it overnight you’ll see some results. Either way you get great flavor from the buttermilk so why not bring it along for the ride.
I seasoned the chicken pretty liberally with salt, Korean red chili flakes and a bunch of chopped garlic.
The idea was that since the marinade was only gonna to hit the chicken for a short period, I bumped up how much salt I seasoned it with to make sure it was salty enough. If I were going to let it soak overnight I would definitely have pulled back on how much salt was in there to compensate for the extra soaking time. I also imagine it would get a hellofa lot spicier overnight with the chili flakes in the marinade.
I sealed that up and let it hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours.
I headed over to my buddy Kurt’s house where we were having dinner. He made an amazing mac and cheese to go with the chicken… I’m planning to get the recipe and recreate it. It was insane. When it was time to fry I filled up a deep, heavy stock pot with oil and brought it up to about 350F. You want the oil right around 325F for frying but if you start out a little higher, the first couple pieces of cool chicken in the oil will bring the temp back down. You should keep good watch on the temperature until you get a feel for how hot it is by how quick the chicken’s cooking. It shouldn’t ever drop below 325F.
While the oil was heating up I got my chicken all ready for the ball. Obviously I couldn’t just dredge this chicken in flour and call it a day. If you’re frying chicken (or anything really that you want breaded) generally you’ll dredge it in flour to dry it off, then dip it in an egg wash of some sort (or buttermilk), and then dredge it back in either flour or breadcrumbs. You’re kindof just making a batter on the surface that will actually stick, since if you tried to dunk it in batter it would just slide right off. Don’t ask me why, just trust.
Since this stuff was already soaking in seasoned buttermilk – we passed up the massage and the pool and went straight for the flour treatment. I mixed in with my flour some garlic salt and a whole load of sesame seeds. I went with mostly black ones to give it the cool speckled look and added some light brown toasted ones too for the flavor. Now the holy trinity of Korean flavor was complete – garlic, chili and sesame – through the marinade and the breading. It’s really an unbeatable flavor combination… I’d put it up against just about anything.
When the oil was hot I went to town and started bathing those beauties in the tub. You just fry em a couple pieces at a time for about 10 minutes if they’re totally submerged or about 8-10 minutes on each side if you’re doing it in a shallower pan and can’t completely cover them. The oil should be around 325F – no lower – while they’re frying.
You don’t want to rush them or they’ll be undercooked inside and you really don’t want to crowd them in the pot or the oil will get too cool and they’ll just soak it all up
They should come out looking like this and tasting even better…
What you need
Buttermilk – to soak
Salt – to season
Flour – to dredge
Hot oil – to fry
A lotta soul – to love it
The point really though is that you can flavor it however you want… experiment with the coating. Get crazy. Next time I’m gonna pulverize those sesame seeds in my food processor and see if I can get a really dark coating on it. Maybe chop up some fresh herbs into the flour mixture? Or just keep it simple and old school – buttermilk, chicken and flour. Can’t go wrong there…