Thursday, April 15, 2010

Korean Fried Chicken

Some people in our household, me included, are fried chicken fiends. Give us a bucket of fried chicken and we're all happy campers.

We don't fry chicken that often in our house and it seems that the choices for good fried chicken in this town are becoming more and more limited. Of course, this fact that fried chicken are rare birds that alight our tables probably explains the gusto with which we dig into them.

Recently, our favourite has been Thai Fried Chicken. The scent of the oyster sauce, fish sauce, garlic and cilantro while the chicken pieces are frying is enough to bring a horde to the kitchen fingers itching to grab the next piece.

When I brought home some drumsticks the other day, though, I toyed with the idea of being unfaithful to our current love. Maybe it was time to bring another fried chicken dish into our lives. . .

It is spring, after all, and in the spring this young woman's fancy (okay, not so young!) lightly turns to thoughts of love.

I've been hearing and reading so much about Korean fried chicken for the past couple of years, that maybe, maybe, maybe it is time to fall in love with Korean fried chicken.

When we went to New Year last summer, I had written down a list of Korean fried chicken places to try. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time (4 days) and stomach space (see our previous posts) to partake of the other "KFC".

When we went to LA last fall -- well, you already know what happened on that trip: we had to shorten our entire trip because of the eye injury, hence the disappointment.

But, just to show you how dedicated we are, we did manage to snag a sample of Korean fried chicken at Kyochon on that Thursday night, the night before the day we had to fly back to Vancouver.

I don't recall myself going ga-ga over the Kyochon fried chicken. Perhaps it was the circumstances of the meal, perhaps it was an off-day for them, but I thought, while the coating was spicy and flavourful enough, the chicken itself had no taste at all.

I don't know if TS concurs with my opinion or if she even saw the fried chicken that she ate that night!

Because of the non-flavourful chicken, I decided to marinate my chicken overnight before the actual cooking. I combined some soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, garlic, cider vinegar, brown sugar and grated apple (didn't have pears). Into this marinade went the chicken drumsticks.

We coated the chicken with cornstarch before frying. Afterwards, I tossed them in that startlingly red Yangnyeom Sauce, the sauce that seems to define Korean fried chicken in North America. It's made with gochujang, corn syrup, garlic, sesame oil, and a touch of soy sauce and vinegar.

Am I in love?

No, not really. As with Kyochon, I'm not ga-ga over this version of Korean fried chicken. All I seem to taste in this fried chicken is the sweet-ish heaviness of the gochujang paste. While good, especially when paired with the crispy, crunchy skin, I found I needed more dimensions to keep my palate interested.

Please note that the above is a personal opinion. Please do not write or flame me about my personal opinion. On Korean fried chicken -- at least, Kyochon and this version -- we just have to agree to disagree.

I made the Yangnyeom sauce using the recipe from the fantastic Korean Fried Chicken post at ZenKimchi. The post concentrates on the different seasoning and coatings for the fried chicken, so perhaps it is those two aspects of Korean fried chicken that we should concentrate on.

The Yangnyeom sauce should be a supporting player instead of the star.

Speaking of which, I liked the Yangnyeom-glazed fried chicken more than JS. I do love my gochujang, after all. Add some sweetness, some garlic (which you know I love), some sesame oil, and I'm a happy camper.

Fair enough.

As I said, please do not flame me about my current indifference to Korean fried chicken. My two dalliances with it have not touched my heart. However, I am very open to the possibility. Maybe I just need to keep trying more versions of Korean fried chicken or keep tweaking with this recipe to find The One. ;)

We're pencilling Korean Fried Chicken again for another run. Stay tuned.

In the meeantime, this is what else we used Yangnyeom sauce for.

Get the recipes from ZenKimchi: Korean Food Journal
The Great Korean Fried Chicken Recipe (Experiment)

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Korean Pork Bulgogi (with Muu Namul, Kong Namul)
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Korean Fried Chicken
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  1. Flame! Flame! Ha ha, just kidding. I'm with TS on this one. Bookmarked the recipe!

  2. The pictures look so amazing I want it to taste fabulous!

  3. Actually, in Korea, it seems that people aren't really that big into Kyochon either, and they're the only ones that do that batter dipped style that I know of.

    I'm a big fan of Two-Two Fried Chicken, which is that paper thin skin that has that exotic Chinese five spice scent. I like to have the sauce on the side for dipping.

    There is some marinating going on in Korea, but it's more to leech out natural flavors than to impart new ones. Korean chickens are smaller and fuller flavored than their ample-breasted North American counterparts. And I've learned that Koreans don't like even the hint of gaminess in their meats, so they're always trying to cover it up. But thankfully, the fried chicken places don't completely succeed. The birds are small and bony, but they're packed with flavor.

    And Korean fried chicken should be eaten with a mug of freshly pulled beer from the tap ;)

  4. I really love the color on that chicken...sorry the taste didn't quite live up to expectations!

  5. I want to be a camper too!!! What a delicious serie of pictures. I can imagine how it tasted... glorious!!!

  6. OMGGG!!! Could you guys count me as "some people"? Who's absolutely crazy about fried chicken?

  7. Hi. Thanks for visiting Your photos are lovely, and the chicken looks delicious! I can't wait to try this.

    Stop by again!

  8. Manggy:
    Haha. I was chuckling as I read JS' copy about not flaming here.

    It was good. But I don't think JS is into that sauce much.

    Thanks for all the info. But yeah, next time we'll try the Two-Two version. But hey, with the 5-spice, then isn't it like "Chinese" Fried Chicken? ;)

    Yeah, I didn't think ours would turn out so red, but it did!

    Thanks! =)

    M. Rita:
    Then you'd fit right in at our household.

    Spicy Perspective:
    Thanks! I have your blog on my reader, so I won't be missing any of your posts. =)

  9. It's not exactly like five spice--but that hint of cinnamon that suggests it.

  10. OMG! That looks scrumptious! I wish I had a plate or two of those little beauties.

  11. ZenKimchi:
    OK, thanks for the clarification. =)

    Hehe, thanks! Yeah, it's been a long time since I've had this. We should make then again soon!


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