In Korea, going out for a meal of chicken and beer is such a common activity that it has its own name: chimek. There are many different types of Korean fried chicken, aka KFC, but the best known version is chicken coated in a spicy-sweet sticky coating. It's easy enough to make at home. The traditional accompaniment (other than beer, of course) is a white radish banchan, which refreshes the palate.
I like this best with chicken wings, but you can also make it with other chicken parts. Chicken breasts need about the same amount of time to cook as the wings, but thighs and drumsticks need about 10 minutes (or slightly longer) to fry.
Gochujang is Korean spicy soybean paste, while gochugaru are Korean chilli flakes.
I grate the ginger and garlic using a ceramic grater, which gives a smooth paste, but if you don't have one, puree the ingredients in a food processor or blender.
Because the sauce is thick and sticky, it can be difficult to coat the pieces of chicken lightly but evenly. The easiest way is to put the hot, freshly fried chicken in a large bowl and drizzle with the hot sauce. Shake the bowl and toss the wings in the air so they land back in the bowl. Do this as needed until the chicken pieces are coated.
What does 'Chimaek' mean? Find out through our Fried Chicken and Beer Explained.
No country has made the competition of fried chicken more intense than South Korea. Eat Drink Asia takes a look at two equally iconic KFCs — Kentucky fried chicken and Korean fried chicken — to follow the making of this golden gastronomic achievement of mankind. Listen now.
Use a ceramic grater to grate the ginger and four of the garlic cloves to a fine paste (or use a blender or food processor). Thinly slice the remaining garlic cloves.
Put the gochujang (spicy soybean paste), corn syrup, soy sauce and the grated garlic and ginger in a small saucepan. Heat the ingredients over a medium flame, stirring occasionally. When the sauce comes to a simmer, add the gochugaru (chilli flakes) and sliced garlic. Simmer for one minute, then taste the sauce and adjust the amount of gochujang, corn syrup, soy sauce and gochugaru, if necessary. Remove from the heat while frying the chicken.
If the wings are connected, separate them at the joint. Rinse them well, dry them with paper towels then put them in a bowl, sprinkle with the salt and mix thoroughly.
In a shallow dish, combine the flour and cornstarch. Crack the egg over the chicken and mix to evenly coat the pieces.
Pour oil to the depth of 2.5cm (1in) in a large skillet placed over a medium flame and heat to 160°C (320°F).
Dredge the chicken in the flour/cornstarch mixture to coat the pieces lightly but evenly, then place in the hot oil. Fry the wings for about six minutes, or until fully cooked, turning the pieces over as necessary. Do not crowd the pan; cook the chicken in batches. When the pieces are fried, drain them on paper towels.
Turn the flame under the skillet to high and heat the oil to 180°C (350°F). Place the wings in the skillet, slightly crowding them in (you should be able to fit half the pieces in the pan). Fry the chicken for about a minute, turning over the pieces once (the second frying crisps up the coating). While the chicken is frying the second time, heat the sauce to bubbling.
Very briefly drain the re-fried chicken pieces on paper towels then, while they are still hot, put them in a large bowl and drizzle with half the sauce. Shake the bowl and toss the chicken in the air as needed, so the wings are lightly coated with the sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and toss again, then pile the pieces on a serving plate. Repeat the re-frying process with the remaining wings, then coat them with the sauce. If there is any sliced garlic stuck in the bowl, place it on the chicken pieces.
After putting the second batch of wings on the platter, sprinkle with more sesame seeds. Serve with the white radish banchan.