Home > Cooking > Cook, Pop, Cook: Korean Fried Chicken

Cook, Pop, Cook: Korean Fried Chicken

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

My wife and I love Target, except when we don’t. Whenever we exit a Target store in the area with a shopping cart full of stuff despite going in just to pick up a “few things,” it happens. I put D1 and D2 in the car and then put the stroller in the trunk and then *sniff* *sniff* “That smell,” I think to myself, “I know it all too well…” I continue to *sniff* and my wife begins to wonder why it’s taking me so long to get back in the car.

I close my eyes as the scent permeates my airway and then I begin to float like a cartoon as the scent whisks me away and *plop* I land in front of a yellow and red building and…

“Honey, what are you doing?!”

“Sorry hon, I just smelled Popeyes in the air.”

You see, there seems to be a Popeyes within smelling range of most Targets in the area and I find the smell of fried chicken, especially from Popeyes, intoxicating. In fact, I once asked my wife if she would be willing to don eau du bucket of chicken. She said no. “How about eau du bacon,” I asked. No again. Seriously. If my wife wants to seduce me, smelling like fried food wrapped in bacon would work far better than smelling like flowers or whatever else they make perfume smell like. But I digress.

As you can plainly see, I love fried chicken. In fact, I once dreamed of opening a restaurant called Skins n Stuff, where we’d just sell fried chicken skin and sides. And while I love me some chicken from Popeyes or the good Colonel, nothing I’ve tried compares to Korean Fried Chicken. Even the New York Times thinks so in this article.

In fact, in the DMV, Bon Chon chicken is immensely popular and customers are willing to pay $20 for a portion of chicken and wait 45 minutes, which is how long it takes to prepare an order. If you’re near a Bon Chon or a restaurant that serves Korean Fried Chicken, I highly suggest you go. Now. But if not, give this recipe a shot.

Korean Fried Chicken

Unlike the fried chicken you may be used to, Korean fried chicken is nongreasy, has very little batter, and the skin is immensely crunchy. The secret is in ensuring that all the fat on the chicken gets rendered and double frying.

What do I mean? Next time you eat a piece of fried chicken, notice the globs of fat on the edges of the meat when you tear off the skin. For this Korean fried chicken recipe, you double fry the chicken to 1) crisp the skin and 2) render all of that fat so that you’re left with only crunchy skin and juicy meat.

For those that have tried Bon Chon or something similar before, this recipe doesn’t result in crack chicken (the rumor around the DMV is that Bon Chon laces their chicken with crack, which makes it so addictive). While the skin is crisp, it’s not as crisp as Bon Chon, so it’s still worth your while to drive out there from time to time. But my biggest gripes with Bon Chon are that 1) the chicken isn’t seasoned at all and once you get past the delicious skin, it doesn’t taste very good and 2) the sauces are just ok. So overall, I think this recipe will result in delicious fried chicken, just not as addictive.

Here’s what you’ll need for 4 servings:

For the chicken
1 package of drumsticks and 1 package of wingettes, about 3-4lbs total weight
Vegetable oil
1.5C corn starch

For the sauce
1/3C soy sauce
1/2C of brown sugar
1.5tbs of rice vinegar
1/4C of water
1tbs granulated garlic (or fresh garlic if you’re so inclined)
Sriracha, a.k.a. as cock sauce, available at any Asian grocer and I’ve found it at certain Safeways and Giants.

Start by making the sauce: put the soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, water and garlic into a small sauce pan and simmer over medium-high heat for 6 minutes or so. You can use fresh garlic if you’d like, but I think the granulated garlic works better for this. And see why I call it cock sauce? There’s a big rooster on the bottle. How an immature guy like me ever convinced a woman to A) marry him and B) raise kids with him is beyond me.

Soy Garlic Sauce

Now divide the sauce evenly into two bowls. To one of the bowls, add 1tsp of the cock sauce and to the other add 1/2C of the cock sauce and mix well. You can add more if you want it really spicy.

Some like it hot...

Note how I left my spoon in the spicy one because the color difference between the two is very subtle.

Now get your chicken out…

Drumsticks and wingettes

your dutch oven (or whatever else you like to use for frying), a splatter screen

9Qt Dutch Oven and Oxo splatter screen

a large bowl, strainer, baking sheet lined with foil, a wire rack, and a bowl of 3tbs Kosher salt and 1.5tbs of black pepper.

Bowl, baking sheet, strainer, and S+P

Pour vegetable oil into the dutch oven – use your best guesstimation skills and fill it so that the chicken will be completely covered in oil when frying – and turn to medium heat. Our target is about 350°F.

It's heating up

Sift 1/2C of corn starch into a shallow dish

Sifted corn starch

Now setup a production line: raw chicken (patted dry) with salt and pepper bowl nearby, shallow dish with corn starch, large bowl with strainer, and wire rack on top of baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Season a piece of chicken with a bit of salt and pepper, making sure to get into all the meaty bits.

Just S+P will do

and then coat it thoroughly with corn starch.

Fat chicken little coat

and then place the piece of chicken into the strainer and shake vigorously to remove all but a thin coating of the corn starch

Shake n Fry

and then place the chicken on the wire rack.


Like shampooing your hair, lather (s+p then corn starch), rinse (we want only a thin coating of corn starch), and repeat (the process for all the pieces of chicken.

No and then!

And then? NO AND THEN!!! Now it’s time to get the batter ready.

Using the same bowl that now has corn starch, chicken bits, and salt and pepper in it, add 1C of corn starch, 1/2C of water and a pinch of the salt and pepper mixture that is leftover. Whisk all of that together.

Batter up!!!

The idea is that the batter will adhere to the thin layer of corn starch, resulting in crispy skin minus excess batter. By this point, your oil should be at or above 350°F – adjust your heat accordingly to maintain that temperature.

Now dunk the first batch of chicken into the batter and turn to coat.

Going for a swim

Using tongs, pickup a piece of chicken and shake to remove excess batter and place carefully into the oil. Fry the chicken for 8 minutes (9 minutes for dark meat), stirring occasionally to ensure the pieces do not stick to each other.

The Welshly Arms Hotel

Hello Lovah! Join me in the hot tub!

Although the waters above appear calm, below the surface, there is a frenzy of activity

and if you didn’t get those captions, you must watch this video.

Once the chicken is done, move them back to the wire rack.

First batch

While the chicken rests on the wire rack, the insides will continue to cook – remember, that whole rendering the fat thing.

What's cookin', good lookin'? Oh. You are.

Now fry the second batch and the third.

First fry complete

Make sure you keep the batches in order. Now fry them again in batches for 8 minutes (9 minutes for dark meat) and then move them to a plate lined with several sheets of paper towels. Make sure you rotate the chicken occasionally to ensure none of the sides gets soggy.

And you’re done:

Ready for saucing

If you’d like, check the internal temperature of the chicken: 160°F for white meat, 175°F for dark.

Delicious dark meat drumsticks

You can keep the chicken warm in a 200°F oven for up to 30 minutes if you’re not quite ready to eat.

Now dunk the wings in the sauces.

Dunkin' wings

And behold: the fruits of your labor!


The skin is crisp, the meat is juicy, and the sauce is drinkably good.

Korean Fried Chicken >> KFC

If you love fried chicken, I highly suggest you give this recipe a try. It takes quite a bit of prep and cleaning up oil is never fun, but the chicken is amazing. And once you try to make it yourself, you’ll never gripe about how long the chicken at Bon Chon takes again.

Pop’s Korean Fried Chicken Recipe

1.5C corn starch
3-4lbs of chicken: drumsticks and wingettes (increase frying times if using breasts and thighs)
3tbs kosher salt, 1.5tbs of black pepper

Soy Garlic Sauce
1/3C soy sauce
1/2C of brown sugar
1.5tbs of rice vinegar
1/4C of water
1tbs granulated garlic (or fresh garlic if you’re so inclined)
Sriracha, a.k.a. as cock sauce

  1. Prepare sauce by combining soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, water, and garlic in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat for 6 minutes. Divide into two bowls and add 1tsp of Sriracha to one bowl and 1/2C to the other. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Heat enough oil to cover chicken in dutch oven to 350°F
  3. Sift 1/2C of cornstarch in a shallow dish.
  4. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Coat chicken thoroughly in corn starch, transfer to strainer and shake to remove all but a thin coating of corn starch. Transfer to wire rack on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
  6. Whisk 1C of corn starch, 1/2C of water, and pinch of salt and pepper in the bowl you strained the corn starch into. Add first batch of chicken and turn to coat.
  7. Use tongs to remove chicken one at a time and allow excess batter to drip into the bowl.
  8. Fry, stirring to prevent sticking for 8 minutes (9 for dark meat). Transfer to wire rack.
  9. Fry second and third batches, and transfer to wire rack.
  10. Refry the chicken in batches for another 8 minutes (9 for dark meat). Internal temperature should be about 160°F for white meat, 175°F for dark. Transfer to plate lined with paper towel.
  11. Dunk the chicken in either sauce to coat.
  1. December 9, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    That looks SO good. I wonder if my mediocre cooking skills are up to it.

    • Pop
      December 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm

      It’s pretty simple, actually. It’s just a pain to setup and cleanup. Also, my house still smells like fried food, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your fondness of eau du fried

  2. December 9, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    ThankyouthankyouTHANKYOU!!!! I think you know what a fried chicken fiend I am (for instance, you can’t imagine how juiced I am that they’re actually opening up a Bojangles in Union Station), so I’m always keen to get new recipes.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • the buck
      December 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      “you know what a fried chicken fiend I am”

      You and me both, Jason! Up through yesterday evening, I’d had fried chicken for every meal for 2 days.

      • Pop
        December 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm

        I typically use the term ‘fiend’ jokingly. But you, Buck? You really are a fried chicken fiend, as in, you’d pistol whip me if I got in between you and your fried chicken

        • the buck
          December 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

          Pistol whip is the least that I’d do to you, chingoo!

    • Pop
      December 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      I love the Bo! But Bon Chon is different. Sometimes, I’m in the mood for the thick, flavorful batter. Other times, I’m craving the crackety crunch. Give this one a try – I think you’ll like the sauces.

  3. December 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Now that looks heavenly!

    • Pop
      December 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm

      It tastes even better.

  4. the buck
    December 9, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
    You’re everything I wish I could be
    I could fry higher than an eagle
    You are the wind beneath my wings

    • Pop
      December 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      Did you intend to type fry as a play on words, or are you fobbier than I realized?

      • the buck
        December 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

        Um, yes, and yes

        • Pop
          December 9, 2010 at 2:50 pm

          I’d love to smell the wind beneath fried wings.

  5. December 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Yum, Pop, Yum. This looks very tasty. And hopefully? I will not set the house (or myself) on fire in my attempt to fry….

    • Pop
      December 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      My house is still standing, so I think you’ll be fine.

  6. KLZ
    December 9, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Hold. the. phone.

    They serve food in your DMV? WTH??? Why is ours worse than everywhere else?

    • Pop
      December 9, 2010 at 3:58 pm

      DMV = DC Maryland Virginia.

      I WISH they had food at our MVA (motor vehicle association)

  7. liz
    December 9, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    it’s not korean, but if you love you some fried chicken, there is a legendary place in memphis called Gus’ Fried Chicken.

    And it’s pretty darn good!

    • Pop
      December 9, 2010 at 3:59 pm

      Just checked – 900 miles from me. Might be worth the drive.

  8. kim
    December 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    oooh, now I am drooling. Husband and I just started The Flat Belly Diet. (read: I cook the food and tell him ‘this is ALL you can eat.) and I’m *pretty* sure this is NOT on it. *sigh* But thanks for the visual. 🙂

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 9:47 am

      It’s high in protein and if you only eat a few legs or wings, it’s pretty low-cal. 😛 And starting a diet BEFORE the holidays?!?! You crazy.

  9. December 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    ZOMG…can you just fly to Canada and make it for me? That made my mouth water. Too bad your blog doesnt have smell-a-vision or taste-a-vision. Yummmm

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

      I wish my blog could have that functionality. If you want to create it yourself, just go fry 10 batches of bacon – I’m pretty sure that’s how my blog smells.

  10. December 9, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    that looks AMAZING. do you get the cock sauce at a specialty store?

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 9:57 am

      It’s available at any Asian grocer (though I’m sure that doesn’t help you much – unless Asians have expanded there as well) and I’m seeing it at more and more grocers. Alternatively, you can find it online – Amazon has it for about $4/bottle, which is $1 more than in stores.

  11. December 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Pop, gotta try this recipe. I love that it is all drumsticks. Nice and cheap! My house still smells like fried chicken and that was 2 nights ago. Thank goodness for febreeze.

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Yup! I’m all about $/lb! But I love me some chicken wings – pains me to see how expensive they are now.

  12. December 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    While planning the end of my hiatus…I was SO thrilled to see a cooking entry from you. YOU always make my stomach growl. GOD, these look incredible! Thank you for the valuable work you do! 🙂

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Haha, you’re welcome LD! Good to see you back!

  13. December 9, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I don’t know what looks better, those legs or your baby’s thighs!!

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 10:02 am

      That is certainly debatable.

  14. December 9, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Crap! I shouldn’t open this post this early in the morning, now my mouth is watering. Those chicken looks so delicious 😀

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 10:02 am

      And I shouldn’t respond to comments this early – now I’m hungry!

  15. leebodenmiller
    December 10, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Looks delicious, great thanks, now I’m craving them at midnight…but I don’t think I could ever cook this! Reading this post was like watching an episode of Iron Chef America…

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 10:04 am

      Actually, my kitchen is worse than Iron Chef – you think those judges are tough? D1 has discriminating taste & she speaks her mind.

      But you could totally make this.

  16. December 10, 2010 at 3:12 am

    “Eau du bucket of chicken?!?!?!?!” Any woman that would don that fragrance would indeed be a keeper.

    My dad is also a fan of the skin. He covers it in salt and pepper. I’m not not not going to admit that I love it too.

    {{I would eat at your restaurant.}}

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 10:19 am

      I like your dad. My wife won’t don that fragrance – maybe for a milestone birthday or something.

  17. the buck
    December 10, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Holy crap. I came to revisit the pictures of pure magnificentness and just realized that there are actually words in this post. I totally missed the all of the English characters due to being blinded by the pictures.

    I definitely know we’re the same person because I, too, have asked my wife to wear some eau du (pork belly, fried chicken, ribs, rare strip steak, etc). I think she’s gonna save that for my 95th birthday

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 10:45 am

      If you make it to 95, I think it will be a testament that bacon, does in fact increase longevity.

  18. December 10, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Ha, you said cock! That looks delicious – I recently discovered coating chicken in corn startch – it gives it such a crispy outside! 😀

    Hope you have a great weekend!

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm

      Flour and/or buttermilk is great too, but I love the crunch the corn starch provides!

  19. December 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Ok, I have that spicy sauce.

    For HIMSELF.

    I can’t eat it.

    If it’s on food, then I can’t eat the food.

    I, you may have surmised, am a spice weenie.

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Sounds like Himself and I would get along just fine. You and D1 would get along – she won’t eat anything remotely spicy.

      And if there were such a thing as Pop Points, being a spice weenie is definitely –

  20. Veronica
    December 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    I just realized why I’ve never made fried chicken. I was waiting for this recipe. Man, you made it sound so good I HAVE to try it! Great step-by-step pics.

    • Pop
      December 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks Veronica. Let me know how it turns out!

  21. December 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Skin n Stuff, huh? Just be careful… that has potential to draw in an entirely different kind of croud. I’d suggest not decorating with a disco ball.

  22. December 10, 2010 at 1:11 pm


    • Pop
      December 15, 2010 at 10:53 am

      Never thought about that. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

  23. December 11, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! We made this tonight and loved it- although my boyfriend who likes spicy found himself with his tongue on his beer can to alleviate the spice from half cup of the Sriracha.

    • Pop
      December 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

      Glad you guys liked it! Keeping cold beer nearby is always recommended – both for consumption and for cooling purposes

  24. December 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

    That does look good. It’s way more effort than I’m willing to put out, but looks yummy all the same.

    • Pop
      December 15, 2010 at 10:58 am

      I’m always willing to put out for meat. Uhhh, effort that is.

  25. December 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I want this BAD!!!! I can’t say I’ll make it myself, but I do know just the man for the job! 🙂

    • Pop
      December 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm

      haha. Cooking delicious meat has been my meal ticket 😛

  26. December 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I am now starving. Drooling, thinking about this chicken. How well do you think that ships? Shall I email you my address?

    • Pop
      December 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      If you want, just close your eyes and let the scent carry you here.

  27. December 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I would be more than willing to put on bacon-flavored perfume.

    But then what about when I get attacked by roving packs of dogs?

    (Those are out there, right? I’ve totally seen them in movies.)

    Who will protect me then?

    Is there a bacon defending Batman?

    ‘Cause if not, there’s clearly a need.

    • Pop
      December 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      I believe he’s called Fatman. Yeah, that’s the best I could do.

  28. December 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    This sounds so good! I’m gonna try to make these on one of the Hubby’s days off this week. So will be stopping by to stalk your blog. Thanks!

    • Pop
      December 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      Stalk away! 🙂

  29. December 19, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Note to self: Reading Pop’s blog before bed might put the jingle, “Love that chicken from Popeye’s,” in your head :p.

    PS Chemo kills your taste buds so lately I crave anything with salt and BBQ. I’ve eaten more chicken in three months than I have in years!

    • Pop
      December 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      Soon and very soon, my Butt will be yours. 🙂

  30. TK
    December 29, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who calls it cock sauce. 😉

    My husband and I love srircha!! But out wimpy tongues can only take a little at a time. We are trying to build up our immunity.

  1. March 1, 2012 at 11:11 am

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