SINGAPORE - Many people are put off by the idea of deep-frying at home, but if your craving for Korean fried chicken after binge-watching South Korean drama Crash Landing On You is strong enough, you just might be motivated to put up with the hot and greasy mess.
For one-stop shopping and as much authenticity as possible, I head to Korean grocery shop Koryo Mart in Compass One mall - it has eight stores islandwide - to get Beksul Fried Chicken Powder (labelled Fried Chicken Mix in English on the packet) and other Korean ingredients for seasoning.
The fried chicken powder is essentially a seasoned flour mix of flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, red pepper powder, black pepper powder, ginger and garlic extract powder and nutmeg powder.
The packaging does not come with instructions in English. But with the help of translation apps and some experimenting, I have come up with a recipe that any home cook should be able to replicate with ease.
You will need to use the flour mix to prepare the batter and also a separate portion of the flour to dredge the chicken before frying.
Some online recipes call for the use of milk to soak the chicken - likely to tenderise the meat. But from what I gather, most restaurants here that sell Korean fried chicken do not include this in their cooking process. I have skipped this step too.
To get fried chicken that is truly tasty, the chicken must be flavoursome inside and out. I recommend using fresh chicken - I got mine from the wet market - and marinating it overnight.
Fresh chicken retains moisture and juiciness much better and you do not have to worry about frozen meat odours.
It is important to pierce the meat before marinating to allow the flavours to penetrate.
Similar to making the batter for tempura, it is best to use iced water for a lighter and crispier crust. Batter made using room temperature water results in a thicker, harder and heavier crust.
The type of oil used for deep- frying also makes a difference. A light-coloured kind such as olive oil gives fried chicken an appetising golden brown hue.
Olive oil has a smoke point from 198 to 243 deg C. For this recipe, the oil is heated to 165 deg C.
An earlier experiment using rice bran oil resulted in the fried chicken having a darker crust despite using the same temperature and cooking time.
One final tip is to fry the chicken twice as the eventual crust will be optimally crispy.
For this recipe, the crust stayed crispy even after the photo shoot.
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN
- 1kg of fresh chicken (four drumsticks, four thighs and
- three chicken wings)
- 2 flat tsp salt
- 2 flat tsp Korean dried ground garlic (or substitute with 3 minced garlic cloves)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 Tbs Korean cooking wine
- 1.7 litres olive oil
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges (for garnish)
FOR THE BATTER
- 200g Korean fried chicken powder (Fried Chicken Mix)
- 1 flat tsp Korean dried ground garlic
- 340ml iced water
- 200g Korean fried chicken powder (Fried Chicken Mix)
1. Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat with kitchen towels.
2. Place the chicken in a deep dish.
3. Use a thin skewer to lightly pierce each piece of meat. This allows the marinade to better penetrate it.
4. Add the salt, dried ground garlic, ground black pepper and cooking wine. Mix well and massage the marinade into the meat.
5. Cover the dish with clingwrap and allow to marinate at least four hours, preferably overnight.
6. Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
7. In a sturdy pot, add the oil. The amount of oil will vary depending on the pot you are using. Use sufficient oil to get a depth of 5cm so that the chicken can be completely submerged during frying. Heat the oil while you prepare the batter and flour for dredging.
8. To prepare the batter, place the Korean fried chicken powder and dried ground garlic in a mixing bowl.
9. Add the iced water and whisk the mixture until the flour is dissolved and the batter is smooth.
10. Place the remaining 200g of Korean fried chicken powder in a dish.
11. Once the oil has reached a temperature of 165 deg C, prepare the chicken for deep-frying.
12. Dip each piece of chicken in the batter, then dredge it thoroughly
in the flour. Shake off any excess flour and gently place the chicken in the oil.
13. Fry the chicken for eight minutes. Cook four to five pieces of chicken
at a time so that each piece can cook evenly.
14. Remove the chicken from the oil and place on wire rack.
15. Once all the chicken is fried, heat the oil to 165 deg C again.
16. Place the chicken in the oil to fry for another two minutes.
17. Remove the chicken and place on wire rack to drain off excess oil.
18. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.
Serves four to five
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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