One of our favourite fried chicken flavors has been KFC, Korean Fried Chicken, that is. The first time we had it was while we were living in New York. I still remember Mad For Chicken. My mind was blown. It was sweet, spicy, savory, cruncy, tender, juicy ALL at the same time. It was so good. Throughout the years, we’ve gone to many more Korean fried chicken places, including some in Korea but none of them have ever been the same as our first time. We haven’t gone back there in a while, like many years, I worry that it would take away the magic that it was.
We’ve made the Mad for Chicken style before, thin but crispy coating, a thin sauce. I thought I’d go for something a bit different this time, closer to the traditional versions that we had in Korea. We went with thicker breading, more of a southern fried chicken, and a thicker sauce to go with it as well.
My cut of choice is always chicken thighs, skin on. To the bag, I added some of the kimchi brine, along with some kimchi for a quick tenderizer and flavour booster in the sous vide. I cooked mine at 155F, however you can also go lower (or higher) to your desired doneness. I would probably lean closer to 150F for the next batch and go for about 1-2 hours.
A key step after the chicken is done cooking is to dry it. I use a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet, then pat dry with paper towels. Allow them to air dry while you prepare the sauce. I’m probably going to say this in every post, but DON’T THROW OUT THE BAG JUICES aka liquid gold. We are going to use the bag juices to thin the sauce and give it a little more richness.
The sauce is pretty straight forward, taste as you go, and add the salty ingredients last ie. soy sauce and salt. Gochujang is pretty salty already, you don’t want the salt to over power your chicken. The spiciness level is also up to you, the Korean Chili Pepper Flakes (gochugaru) is optional. You want your sauce to be able to coat the back of your spoon, but not so thick that it’s gloop. If it’s too thick, add some extra liquid to thin it out.
On to the frying. Set out two pans, one for wet ingredients, and the other for dry. The first step is to thoroughly dry the chicken thighs again with paper towels. Any excess moisture on there will steam under the coating and pull away from the chicken later on. I also sprinkle a little more salt onto the chicken. I always sprinkle salt onto the meat instead of in the dredge so that I can control the salt levels. For the dry ingredients, I used a mixture of all purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder. If you have cake flour on hand, use that as it will yield a crispier crust. Also, add a few spoonfuls of the Korean fried chicken sauce to the flour dredge. This will give it that extra crispiness and crunch. Think southern fried chicken here. Although in this rendition, I used whole eggs for the binder, in future ones I would probably only use egg whites. Egg whites crisp up much better than the yolks.
Place the dried chicken thighs into the flour and coat all over, make sure to knock off any excess. Next place it into the eggs, covering it thoroughly, and disturbing the coating as little as possible. Next it goes back into the flour mixture for a thick coating. Press it into every nook and cranny. You’re now ready to fry.
Look how juicy this is!
We tried to fry the chicken in a deep fryer at 375F, but it just wasn’t getting brown fast enough for us. So we switched it up to a cast iron skillet for a shallow fry, flipping halfway, and removing once a nice golden brown was reached. We also did a second fry. Traditionally, the second fry is to push out the excess oil, crisp it up, and get to a darker golden brown. It’s important to allow the chicken to cool slightly between the two cooks. If you’re cooking in batches, that is probably the right amount of time to wait. If you’re not cooking in batches, you should be. You’ll have much better results if you are not over crowding the pan. Too much chicken also brings down the temperature of the oil, thus allowing the flour to soak in more. Another benefit to using the sous vide is less time in the frying oil. Sounds healther to me hehe.
Allow it to cool slightly before putting the sauce on. I put the chicken in a bowl, pour some sauce on, then use my hands to coat the rest. Need to get every nook and cranny! Grab a cold one and enjoy this perfect appetizer/snack (actually I’ll eat it as a main thank you very much).
Sous Vide Korean Fried Chicken
- 3 lbs Chicken Thighs
- 1 tbsp Pickle Juice
- 3 tbsp Kimchi chopped
- Salt to taste
- 2 tsp Cooking Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 tsp Ginger minced
- 1 tbsp Korean Chilli Pepper Falkes (Gochugaru) optional
- 1 tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
- ⅓ cup Gochujang
- 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
- ½ cup Liquid from Sous Vide Bag or Water
- 1½ cup Cake Flour or All Purpose Flour
- ½ cup Corn Starch
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Korean Chilli Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru) optional
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 2 cups Buttermilk or Heavy Cream or 3 Egg Whites
- Oil for Frying
- Set the water bath to 155F (68C).
- Salt the chicken thighs and place into a bag along with the kimchi and pickle juice.
- Sous vide for 2-3 hours.
- Once the time is up, remove the chicken from the bath. Remove the chicken from the bag, pat dry with a paper towel and set aside to dry. Reserve the juices.
- Warm oil in a pan on medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and chilli pepper flakes (gochugaru) fry until fragrant.
- Stir in rice wine vinegar, gochujang, and brown sugar.
- Slowly add in the reserved liquid from the bag.
- Cook down until it coats the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Set aside.
- Warm oil in a dutch oven or cast iron pan on high heat until it reaches 375F (190C)
- In a container mix the flour, corn starch, baking powder, Korean Chili Pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Add a few droplets of the korean fried chicken sauce into the mix.
- In a separate container have your dredging liquid (egg whites or buttermilk) ready.
- Pat the chicken dry once more, place into the flour mixture and coat the surface. Knock off any excess flour, and dip into the liquid. Once it’s thoroughly wet, place back into the flour mixture and press a good coating of flour onto the chicken. Repeat for all the chicken.
- Place chicken one at a time into the frying oil. Do not over crowd, and do it in batches if making a larger portion.
- Once the chicken is a light golden brown, remove it from the oil and set aside for a few minutes.
- Place chicken back into the oil for a second fry. Remove from the oil once it’s a deep golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly, then coat with the sauce in a large bowl or in the pan.
- Serve immediately topped with some scallions or sesame seeds. Don’t forget the pickled radish and kimchi as sides!