Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Korean-Style Chicken Fried Nuggets with Sweet & Spicy Gochujang Dipping Sauce

So after my foodie boss Paul mentioned that there is a version of Korean fried chicken (aka, "KFC," go figure) that's all the rage in some circles, especially the one that's fried in 100% olive oil, I've been immensely intrigued. BBQ Chicken restaurant in Diamond Bar http://www.yelp.com/biz/bbq-chicken-diamond-bar-2 serves this specialty so I'm looking forward to give it a try one of these days since it's so close to work. According to Paul (and also some of the Yelp reviewers), it's best to order this dish in advance because of the protracted cooking time. In the meantime, I decided to try my hand at my own version of KFC using boneless, skinless chicken thighs to create bite-sized chicken "nuggets" rather than bone-in chicken pieces and/or chicken wings which is the norm. I incorporated a bit of Korean chili powder into the potato starch coating and made a dipping sauce with Gochujang (Korean spicy bean paste). Gil devoured it all, so I guess it was more than edible. 

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed & cut into bite-sized chunks
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ginger, minced
1 tbsp. mirin

1 cup potato starch
1 tsp. Korean chile powder 

2-3 tbsp. Gochujiang (Korean hot bean paste), according to your taste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. sesame oil
5 tbsp. water

1 qt. 8 oz. vegetable oil

Toasted white sesame seeds and sliced red jalapeños for garnish

Optional: 2 scallions, minced for garnish (I didn't use these this time, but think they can add color and flavor to this dish)

Steamed white rice (optional)

1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Combine the potato starch and Korean chile powder in a shallow dish and set aside.

3. Place the diced chicken into a medium bowl and mix with the salt, black pepper, garlic, ginger and mirin. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the frig for about 20-30 minutes.

4. Coat the marinated chicken pieces in the potato starch-chile mixture. 

5. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or medium pan over medium high heat. Test the oil by dropping in a small pinch of flour - if it sizzles, then it's ready. 

6. Fry the coated chicken in 2 batches for about 5-6 minutes each. Drain on a paper towel-lined platter. Once both batches have been cooked, refry in the hot oil for 1-2 minutes. This will ensure that the chicken nuggets will stay extra crispy.

7. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and sprinkle with toasted white sesame seeds. Serve with the dipping sauce and steamed white rice on the side.

Potato starch combined with Korean chile powder. 

Minced garlic, ginger, and sliced red jalapeños for garnish. Sauce is on the side. 

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  

Marinate the chicken pieces in minced garlic, minced ginger, mirin, salt and pepper.  

Gochujang (Korean hot bean paste), Korean chile powder, potato starch, apple cider vinegar, honey, ketchup, sesame oil, black pepper, soy sauce, kosher salt, and mirin. 

Coat the chicken in the potato starch-chile mixture. 

Deep-fry 5-6 minutes in two batches.  

Remove and drain each batch on paper towels. Refry both batches in hot oil 1-2 minutes to keep their texture crispy.

Serve on a platter with the sauce on the side and garnished with sesame seeds and thin slices of red jalapeños. Great with steamed white rice on the side. 

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