Flavorful and delicious, Korean fried chicken might be the crispiest piece of fried chicken you've ever bit into (Sorry, southerners!). What sets a Korean chicken recipe apart is its signature crunch. Getting the batter just right is essential to making the perfect Korean chicken with some snap, whether dipped in sauce or not.
Speaking with The Daily Meal, Ji Hye Kim, chef and founder of Miss Kim in Ann Arbor, Michigan, explained the key to getting the batter just right. To get a nice crunch, you may think you need to coat your chicken in a lot of batter, but the opposite is actually true. "The most notable difference is that it is not only crispy, but the batter needs to be on the thinner side," she said.
Typically, the batter for Korean fried chicken is made from a mixture of flour, starch, and baking powder -- in addition to its irresistible spices. But chefs will put their own spin on a given recipe, incorporating plenty of other ingredients. At Miss Kim, it's no exception. "We use a mix of corn starch and rice flour to achieve shatteringly crispy batter," said Chef Kim.
In particular, baking powder proves to be a crucial element in making your chicken extra crispy. Baking powder interacts with the chicken's proteins, affecting the PH levels and causing the skin to become looser. The looser skin leads to a greater crunch. Likewise, it also helps leaven the batter, creating a lighter crisp that crunches with every bite.
How To Get A Perfect Crunch
Aside from baking powder, Chef Ji Hye Kim says cornstarch is the key to making Korean fried chicken batter extra crispy. For Korean fried chicken, both potato starch and cornstarch can be used interchangeably but will have different effects on the batter. Of the two, cornstarch will produce a crispier but slightly denser batter comparatively. In comparison, potato starch will be lighter, like a pork skin.
Of course, if you want a crisp piece of chicken, Chef Kim recommends double-frying it. "You fry it once, let it drain and cool, then fry it again," she said.
First, partially fry your chicken at a lower temperature so it doesn't overcook. Don't worry if your batter is only partially crisp. The second dunk in the fryer at a higher temperature will subsequently give your chicken that golden crisp. For the second interval, you should flash-fry your chicken for a shorter time. As for the type of oil to use, consider canola oil, as its neutral flavors won't affect the overall taste of your chicken. Just be sure not to overcook it and follow these other tips.
Other Tips For Easy Korean Fried Chicken
If you're trying to make Korean fried chicken that's quick and convenient, Chef Ji Hye Kim recommends buying pre-mixed fry batter rather than attempting to make your own. You can find the ingredient at Asian food markets. She explained, "It's cheap and easy to find, it doesn't have any odd or processed ingredients added to it, and you won't have to buy large quantities of corn starch or rice flour to make the batter mix."
Likewise, Chef Kim also recommends baking the chicken before frying it. This works particularly well for chicken wings and smaller pieces of meat but may not work for larger pieces, like chicken breasts. Chef Kim says pre-baking the chicken allows the chicken "to cook perfectly without burning and still be assured that the wings are fully cooked."
You should also note the difference between light and dark meat. Dark meat is generally easier to fry as white meat can dry out due to the high temperature you're frying at. It's harder to perfect. One way to avoid this is to opt for a smaller bird, which typically has more gristle and other connective tissues in the breast meat. As Chef Kim puts it, "Korean chickens are already smaller than U.S. chicken, and the chicken pieces are often cut smaller as well."
Finally, you may be tempted to swap out baking powder for baking soda in a pinch. However, resist this urge as it can affect the overall taste of the chicken. Happy frying!
Read the original article on Daily Meal.