The best fried chicken I ever had was in Seoul.
They take their fried chicken seriously over there. In Korea, there is a culture surrounding the fried chicken. You will see long lines at the street markets in Myeongdong just to get their hands on these crispy, sweet, and spicy morsels of joy!
The Koreans like to eat them as a snack with beer. The combo is called ChiMaek. "Chi" for chicken and "maek" for beer.
"Dak" means chicken in Korean and "ganjeong" is a confection made of deep fried rice puff coated with honey and nuts. They applied the same techniques of "ganjeong" to chicken.
The secret to their crispy chicken is they coat it in batter and is then double-fried. As soon as it is out of deep fry, it is coated in a sticky syrup. What makes this sauce distinctly Korean is the gochujang. Gochujang is a fermented chili paste which is sweet and spicy. The fermentation gives that little "something-something" umami flavor. The longer it ferments, the better richer the taste. Fermentation takes at least 6 months or longer for maximum flavor.
One unusual ingredient in this dakgangjeong recipe is strawberry jam. Yes, it does sound strange but trust me, it is what makes this dish! If you're not a fan of strawberry jam, you can substitute for your favorite fruity jam or honey.
I have served these wings in potlucks and parties. Without fail, they disappear in seconds!
For chicken wings:
Chicken wings wing tips cut (3.5 lbs)
Milk (1/2 cup)
Kosher salt (1/2 tsp)
Black pepper (1/2 tsp)
Ginger minced (1 tsp)
Garlic minced (4 cloves)
Potato or corn starch (2/3 cup)
High heat oil for frying (Vegetable, Canola, Grapeseed, or Peanut)
Dried large chili pepper (3-4 peppers each cut in thirds and seeds removed)
Soy sauce (1/4 cup)
Rice wine or mirin (3 tbs)
Apple cider vinegar (2 tbs)
Gochujang (1 tbs)
Strawberry jam, other jam, or honey (1/4 cup)
Brown sugar (1 tbs)
Ginger grated (1 tsp)
Garlic minced (1 tsp)
For garnish (optional):
Sesame seeds (toasted)
Danmuji (yellow picked radish) on the side
Soak chicken wings in milk and set aside in refrigerator for at least half an hour. (Koreans soak chicken in meat to tenderize and remove "chicken" smell)
After milk soak, dry chicken wings and season with salt, pepper, ginger and garlic.
Dredge chicken wings in potato or corn starch.
Heat 1 tbs of oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat, sautee garlic and ginger until fragrant.
Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and heat through until flavors are melded and sauce thickens.
Remove from heat and set aside.
1. Put 4 cups of oil in a pot or pan large enough to fry oil safely.
2. Heat oil to 330F. Once this temperature is reached fry wings in oil for 12 - 13 minutes. Turn occasionally with tongs.
3. Transfer chicken wings to strainer and shake off excess oil. Turn off heat and let sit for a few minutes.
4. Reheat oil to 330F. Add wings and dried peppers. Fry wings again for another 12 - 15 minutes until golden brown.
5. Transfer wings and dried peppers to strainer and shake off excess oil again and in a large bowl coat the chicken and peppers in sauce.
6. If using peanuts as a garnish fry peanuts.
7. Garnish with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, peanuts.
8. Serve with danmuji (yellow pickled radish) and an ice cold beer.