What is Korean fried chicken?
Korean fried chicken (a.k.a. chikin) is a style of fried chicken that is lighter and crispier than traditional American fried chicken. The crispiness is achieved by frying the chicken twice. Various seasonings and a coating of spicy sauces are sometimes added to provide additional flavor. It can be eaten for any part of a meal, as an appetizer, an entree, or a post-meal snack. Sometimes it is served with traditional Korean appetizers (banchan).
This type of fried chicken originated from the Korean war. Americans stationed in South Korea were said to have sold American-style fried chicken during the war. Koreans added their personal touch making a less breaded version of the original fried chicken (huraideu chicken) and creating bolder, spicier variations (yangnyeom chicken).
Korean fried chicken restaurants and chains began popping up in Korea in the 1980s led by Pelicana Chicken in 1982. In 1997, the Asian financial crisis caused thousands of working Koreans to lose their jobs. Many of those laid off gravitated to opening their own Korean fried chicken restaurants due to the relatively low startup and overhead costs. Since then, fried chicken restaurants in Korea has become ubiquitous…exploding to over 50,000 locations. Because of this over saturation, many chains and independent restaurant owners have opened locations in other countries globally.
Where can I get them?
You can find Korean fried chicken in most major cities around the world. They are often located where Asian businesses and restaurants are concentrated. Here are some of the more prevalent “KFC” restaurants across the states.
Fort Lee, NJ (80+ locations nationwide): Bonchon
New York, NY: Pelicana Chicken
Oakland, CA (Castro Valley): Oriental BBQ Chicken Town
Seattle, WA: Bok A Bok
Houston, TX: Dak and Bop
Los Angeles, CA: Kyochon Chicken
Philadelphia, PA (North Wales): BBQ Chicken
San Diego, CA: Cross Street Chicken & Beer
How can I make it?
You can make Korean fried chicken pretty similarly to making traditional American fried chicken. Here’s a pretty simple recipe to make yangnyeom chicken (seasoned Korean fried chicken).
- 2 lbs chicken wings/breasts/legs/thighs (fresh/thawed)
- 1.5 tablespoons rice wine
- 1.5 teaspoons ginger (minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup corn starch
- cooking oil (for deep frying)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
- 1.5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons garlic (minced)
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- In the large mixing bowl, combine the chicken with the ginger, rice wine, salt and pepper until evenly the chicken is evenly coated. Then, with corn starch in a medium mixing bowl, dip each piece of chicken in the corn starch one at a time until completely coated and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat the cooking oil to 350°F. (Make sure you put enough oil to completely submerge the chicken.) Carefully add the chicken in the hot oil and cook 3-5 mins until golden brown. Place on a paper towel-covered plate.
- Reheat oil (add more if necessary) to 350°F. Once again, carefully add the chicken but only for about 2 minutes. Place on a paper towel when done.
- In the meantime, combine the sauce ingredients in a sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble.
- Serve the chicken either coated in the sauce, or with the sauce on the side for dipping. Enjoy!
Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.