My first Korean fried chicken experience was at Bon Chon Chicken in Tribeca over five years ago. It was an epiphany not just because it was delectable, but because it was the first time that it had occurred to me that KFC could stand for something other than Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Since then, I’ve gone to Korea to have Yangnyeom Chikin (양념치킨) at the source and was surprised to find that in most restaurants there, it had a thicker batter and the chicken is covered in a thick sweet sauce. KyoChon, which claims to be the “original” Korean fried chicken has branches all over Korea as well as the US and produces my favorite Korean fried chicken today, with a thin crispy crust and spicy sauce that tickles all the right tastebuds.
Still, there are many places around the world were a request for KFC will be met by “extra crispy or colonel’s original recipe?” Since I happen to live in one of those places, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
For those of you that have never had it, Korean fried chicken is a totally different beast from a buttermilk fried chicken. The wings are not dredged in excessive amounts of flour, so the impossibly crisp exterior appears to be nothing but skin. After being double fried, the wings are lightly tossed in a sweet, spicy, garlicky glaze while still hot. This caramelizes the sauce on the surface of the chicken, preventing it from seeping in too deep, ruining the crispy shell. The resulting wings are fried chicken nirvana; moist savory chicken surrounded by a crackly crisp layer of skin, which incongruously co-exists with a glaze that’s the perfect blend of savory, sweet and spicy.
Together with plenty of lubricant(beer and soju for me), these wings will disappear faster than an unlocked Ferrari in Oakland.
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