Korean Fried Chicken

Before coming to New York, I have never had Korean fried chicken. My coworkers introduced me to Boka and after eating their combo wings and drumsticks 2-3 times every week, we migrated to Monomono and then it just stopped because we got sick of it.

When I came back from Hong Kong last month, the following day at Whole Foods, they had a chicken drumstick sale, 30-something drumsticks for $6!! So I bought two packs and finished one pack two weekends ago during my dinner party. I still have one more pack and although I love my signature fried chicken, I don’t want to make it again so soon. However, I have been craving Korean fried chicken and I’ve always wanted to know HOW they made their chicken so crispy!

… The secret is that they fry it TWICE. DUH! I could have figured that out! You fry French fries twice! Why wouldn’t you do that for chicken?!?!? So I spent yesterday reducing my would-have-been marinating liquid into a glaze-ish-sauce and brining the chicken. I found that the Korean fried chicken in the restaurants were bland under the crispy crust.

I wasn’t sure if this was going to work because it can’t be THAT easy? And you know what, it was THAT easy!!!!

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[100% organic]

For the Brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup salt

Bring the solution up to a boil and cool to room temperature.

For the Chicken

  • 20-30 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • Fryer oil

Brine the chicken for at least 2 hours, no more than 4 hours in the refrigerator. Drain chicken and place on paper towels.

Whisk flour, water, and cornstarch together and make a slurry. Add a little more water if mixture is paste-like. Coat chicken in slurry and fry in oil 350°F for 8 minutes. Remove from fryer and wait for oil to reach 350°F again. Fry for the second time for another 8 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or on paper towels.

Brush glaze/sauce on chicken or season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Spicy Diced Chicken

This post was going to be 辣子鸡丁, a very traditional Sichuan dish, but since I don’t have a wok, it didn’t really work. This dish is supposed to be smokier and spicier but the flat pan didn’t allow me to get it right. However, this was still very tasty so I’m calling it spicy diced chicken.

[100% organic]

For the Marinade

  • 2 TBS dark soy sauce
  • 2 TBS Shaoxing/Chinese rice wine
  • 2 tsp Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Marinate the chicken for at least 15 minutes at room temperature, no more than 30 minutes.

For the Sauce

  • 2 TBS chili garlic sauce
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 TBS water

Mix together the ingredients for the sauce and then set aside.

For the Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast, diced into cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch ginger, minced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup corn starch, sifted
  • 2 TBS whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 10 dried red chili peppers
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • Freshly ground Sichuan peppercorn, as needed

In a ziplock bag, sift the corn starch in and add a generous amount of salt, ground black pepper, and ground Sichuan peppercorn. Strain the chicken from the marinade. Add the chicken to the ziplock bag and shake vigorously and toss around to make sure that all sides of the diced chicken are coated with cornstarch.

Heat 1 cup of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, work in batches and fry the chicken until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a cooling rack when fried.

In a pan over medium-low heat, add 2 TBS canola oil. Add the dried chili peppers and the whole Sichuan peppercorns; let them fry until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Then turn heat to medium-high heat, add in the scallions, garlic, and ginger until fragrant. Stir in the sauce and simmer until slightly thickened. Add the fried chicken, toss to combine, and remove from heat. Serve immediately with rice!

Crispy Herb Fried Chicken

I cannot tell you how delicious this tastes! It’s light and crispy and it has no taste of that fried-oil flavor at all. I’m completely in love with this recipe. I could eat ten pounds of chicken if it was all cooked like this.

And wow! Potato starch is AMAZING! It doesn’t burn and it makes things crisp.

[100% organic]

  • 1 lb chicken thighs, cut into medium pieces
  • 1 TBS EVOO
  • 1 TBS white wine
  • 2 tsp rosemary, finely minced
  • 2 tsp thyme, finely minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges
  • 1 TBS parsley, finely chopped

Add the chicken, olive oil, wine, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and salt to a bowl, then mix well to combine. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Start heating ½-inch of oil in a pot on medium-high heat. Put the potato starch in a bowl and then lightly dust each piece of marinated chicken in the starch. When the oil is hot, start frying the chicken. Since the pieces are small, they will fry up quickly, so be careful not to overcook them. Because you are using potato starch they will not turn dark brown, but they will still be crispy.

When the chicken is done frying, transfer them to a paper-towel lined rack to drain. Sprinkle chopped parsley, and serve immediately with lemon wedges and celery sticks.

*Adapted from Marc Matsumoto.

Braised Chicken Drumsticks

One of my favorite things to make is Thai Crispy Chicken. But the ovens here in New York City are old and they always set off the fire alarm every time you preheat the oven so it becomes a nuisance to cook stuff using the oven.

So I decided to omit the rice flour step and deep-frying all together and, instead, I braised them. They make not look as nice as the crispy kind, but they are just as tasty and as aromatic as the baked ones.

[100% organic]

  • 6 large or 12 small chicken drumsticks
  • ½ head garlic, finely minced
  • 2 cups cilantro, finely minced
  • 2 TBS cayenne pepper
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 TBS dark Chinese soy sauce
  • EVOO or canola oil

Cut slits into the drumsticks and massage the finely minced garlic and cilantro into the chicken. Then transfer to a large bowl and add the other ingredients (cayenne pepper, brown sugar, soy sauces). Mix well. Let chicken marinate for an hour at room temperature.

In a big pan on high heat, heat the oil and then place drumsticks in and sear on both sides for 30 seconds each. Then pour remaining marinade mixture over the drumsticks and enough water to fill half-way over the drumsticks. Wait until water boils and then turn heat to medium-low. Braise for 30-40 minutes. The bubbles breaking the water should be very low energy. The lower the energy, the more tender the meat will become.

Glaze (optional): strain out the garlic and cilantro particles from the marinade mixture and put back on low heat, add some corn starch, mix well, and pour over the chicken.

In the past several days…

In the past several days, I’ve been eating a whole bunch of stuff. Ever since my birthday last weekend, I’ve been pigging out and I can’t stop. I really need to go to the gym and work all of this out!

  • Singapore Chili Crab
  • Mashed Potatoes with Scallions
  • Cilantro & Garlic Chicken Wings
  • Pork Shoulder Soup with Carrots & Corn

Hand-Pulled Chicken

手撕雞

The Chinese literally translates to “Hand-Pulled Chicken”. I’m not sure if this is Cantonese cuisine because I’ve had it in so many different Chinese restaurants; Shanghai, Hangzhou, Hunan, and Sichuan to name a few.

When I was in Yangzhou and Shanghai last week, I can’t say how many times I’ve had this with relatives at home and in restaurants.

[100% organic]

  • 3 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 scallions, julienned
  • 2-inch ginger block, julienned
  • 1 cucumber *
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt (for marinading cucumber)
  • 2 TBS juice from grated ginger
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • Corn starch
  • Canola oil
  • Big bowl of ice water & ice cubes
  • 1 TBS sesame oil
  • 1 TBS chili sauce
  • 1 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 TBS Shaoxing wine

Marinade the chicken drumsticks with the 2 TBS of ginger juice, 1 tsp Shaoxing wine, ½ tsp salt, and white pepper for 30 minutes.

Before cutting the cucumber, slice off half an inch on both ends of the cucumber and then rub them against the stem in circular motions for about half a minute. You’ll see white foam. This makes the cucumber less bitter to the taste. Rinse off the foam and cut cucumber into thin strips. Marinade the cucumber strips for 5 minutes in the coarse sea salt. Then rinse off with clean water and pat dry.

In a steamer**, oil a plate for steaming the drumsticks. Before steaming the chicken, coat them with corn starch. Place drumsticks flat on the oiled plate and then cover them with the julienned ginger and scallions. Steam for 15 minutes over high heat.

After steaming, drown the chicken in the ice water for 5 minutes. This stops cooking the chicken and it seals the juices in the chicken. Pull the meat like long shreds from the chicken.

Put cucumber strips on a plate, then place the chicken shreds on top. Chill them for 3 hours. When ready to eat, mix the sesame oil, chili sauce, soy sauce, and 1 TBS Shaoxing wine and then pour over chicken.

*Use a bigger cucumber for bigger drumsticks, and a smaller cucumber for smaller drumsticks.

**My steamer is a huge wok.

Cornish Hen with Soy-Vodka Glaze & Sticky Rice Stuffing

I gave myself too much this time. It’s kind of elaborate and I just knew that it was going to take a long time but I also knew that the ending result would be super delicious and awesome.

[100% organic]

For the Sticky Rice Stuffing

  • 2 Chinese preserved sweet sausages, sliced
  • 1 cup dried shiitake mushroom, soaked in water
  • 1 TBS ginger, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1 TBS dark soy sauce
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 cups sticky rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Soak the sticky rice and the dry shiitake in water ahead of time. Reserve ½ cup of the mushroom soaking liquid to cook the rice.

In a large pan, add canola oil and stir-fry the Chinese sausage slices and shiitake mushroom slices. Add the chopped garlic and ginger and keep stirring until fragrant. Add the drained sticky rice to the mixture and add the dark soy sauce and regular soy sauce. Add the chicken stock and the ½ cup mushroom liquid and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Let it cool until ready to use.

For the Baby Chicken with Soy-Vodka Glaze

  • 2 Cornish/game hens
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup ginger, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Canola oil, for brushing

Combine the salt and ¼ cup sugar in a large container with 4 cups of cold water to dissolve. Add the chickens and marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Season the bird’s cavity with salt and pepper, stuff with the cooled sticky rice stuffing and truss it or at least tie up the legs.

Combine the ½ cup ginger with the soy sauce, vodka, the remaining 1 cup of sugar, and the garlic in a saucepan and bring to boil. Put the chickens on their back, baste them with the soy-vodka mixture, and put pan in the oven.

Roast for 45 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with the soy glaze, until dark brown. A thermometer inserted into its thigh should read 155ºF. Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve with pan juices.

*Adapted from Zen Can Cook.