8–10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
vegetable oil, for deepfrying
sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
100g caster sugar
75g sea salt
35g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
125g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
SWEET SOY SAUCE
100ml soy sauce
25ml rice wine vinegar
20g root ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated or very finely chopped
50g brown sugar
pinch of salt
few drops of sesame oil
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp Korean chilli paste (Gochujang if you can get it, or a hot sauce or paste)
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
a few drops of sesame oil
sea salt (optional)
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Spicy Korean Fried Chicken
This alternative KFC is set to take over the world – it’s a dish that it’s hard to eat in moderation. We first had this at the back of garage in Seoul and we have been converts ever since. Serve it up with the sauces and be prepared to get very sticky fingers.
If you have time, start by brining the chicken. Dissolve the sugar and salt in 200ml of hot water, then add another litre of cold water. Submerge the chicken and leave it for 2 hours.
To cook the chicken, drain and rinse it thoroughly if you’ve brined it, then pat it dry. To make the first coating, whisk the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together – this coating helps the batter to stick, otherwise it tends to fall off. Dust the chicken in this mixture, patting off any excess, and leave it to stand while you make the batter.
To make the batter, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add 100ml of ice-cold water and the vodka – the texture should be quite thin, rather like unwhisked double cream.
Half fill a deep fryer or a large saucepan with oil and heat the oil to 160°C. If you don’t have a thermometer and you’re using a saucepan, test the oil with a piece of bread – it should take around 30 seconds to turn a crisp golden brown; any quicker and the oil is too hot.
Dip the chicken pieces in the batter one at a time. Allow any excess to drip off over the bowl containing the batter, then slowly lower each piece into the hot oil, letting go when it is almost completely submerged. Fry for 8–10 minutes, then remove and drain on kitchen paper. The chicken should be cooked through but barely taken on any colour.
Now heat the oil to 190°C, or if using a saucepan, turn the heat up and leave it for about 5 minutes to reach the right temperature. When the oil is ready, fry the chicken for another 2 minutes until it has darkened. Remove and drain thoroughly. It should be beautifully crisp. Serve the chicken as it is with the sauces, or brush some of the sweet soy sauce over it and serve with rest and the chilli sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you like.
For the sweet soy sauce, put the soy, mirin, rice wine vinegar, ginger, garlic and brown sugar in a saucepan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste for seasoning, add a little salt if necessary and a few drops of sesame oil to taste. Whisk the cornflour with a little cold water until you have a smooth but very runny paste, then whisk this into the sauce over a low heat, until the sauce thickens very slightly. Set aside.
For the chilli sauce, simply whisk all the ingredients together and thin with a little water if too thick. Taste and add salt if necessary.