Korean Fried Chicken

Korean fried chicken

Happy Mother's Day. I celebrate all women on Mother's Day--mothers, those who want to be mothers, those who have chosen or ended up on other paths, aunts, godmothers, daughters, sisters, and the ways we all participate in nurturing, caretaking, and fighting for the things and people we love.

I celebrated Mother's Day by making Korean fried chicken. Last night was our first night home after a month of living with friends while our house was remodeled. I asked Wyatt what he wanted for a celebratory dinner. He said, "Let me think about it." He thought for about 30 seconds, then said, "Korean fried chicken." You gotta love that kid. I do. That's for sure.

Our friend Chris made this for us a few months ago, and Wyatt begged me to replicate it. The pile of bones on his plate after 10 minutes was astounding. The only reason mine wasn't smaller was that I was being a good, longsuffering mother and saving more for him. 

Two secrets to this carnivorous carnival: the addicting sauce made with Korean chili paste and double-frying the chicken. If you have a food processor and an Asian grocer, the sauce is a snap. And the chicken isn't hard, but it's a little laborious. The oil needs to be kept at 350 the whole time, you can't crowd the pan, you need to keep a timer on, and then you have to do it all over again! The result is the crispest, most feathery-light coating. You toss the fried wings in the sauce and wonder why you have ever consented to each chicken any other way.

P.S. Our friend Chris' father died suddenly last week. This one's for you, Chris. We talked about you last night, grateful for you and for your father who brought you into the world. 

Korean Fried Chicken
Adapted from Saveur. I lessened the cooking time a little bit. They advise 6 minutes per batch each time. I found six the first time and 3 the next results in perfectly cooked chicken (and is more conducive to maintaining your sanity). If you buy your first jar of gojujang, congratulations. You'll use it for lots of other things.

Canola oil, for frying
5 cloves garlic
1 1/2" knob of peeled ginger
3 Tb. soy sauce
3 Tb. gojujang (Korean chile paste) 
1 1/2 Tb. rice vinegar
1 Tb. sesame oil
1 Tb. honey
2/3 c. flour
1 Tb. cornstarch
16 chicken wings (about 1 3/4 lbs.)

Turn your oven to 200 and put a cookie sheet in there. Line another cookie sheet with paper towels and place it next to your frying area.

To make the sauce, chop garlic and ginger in a food processor. Add soy sauce, gojujang, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey, then pour the sauce into a large, shallow bowl.

In a large bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, and 2/3 c. water together until smooth. Add the wings and toss to coat.

Heat 2" of oil in a Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet to 350 degrees. You'll have to use a candy thermometer, and heat it over medium high heat. Working in 3 batches, fry 3 minutes per side (6 minutes total), setting each batch on your paper towel-lined sheet to drain. When that's done, the 3 batches again, this time 1 1/2 minutes per side. As you finish these last batches, put them in your warm oven.

When all the chicken is done (by now, you are muttering to yourself, "This had better be worth it.") put it in your sauce-lined bowl and gently toss.

I served it with rice and a quick slaw--thinly sliced savoy cabbage, a Tb. of the chile sauce I just made, a Tb. of mayo, and a bunch of chopped fresh mint over the top.