You know the feeling when watching your favorite TV cooking show and cannot stop drooling over the food. As a result, this dakgangjeong recipe was inspired by binge watching a South Korean reality variety show called Youn’s Restaurant. In its season 2, they opened a small Korean restaurant in Spain for a few days. The show featured a day-to-day operation of the restaurant and how the neighborhood interacted with the casts. I love the idea it show about how cooking can bring us together as we are able to share our culture and heritage through food.
Dakgangjeong (닭강정) consists of two Korean words, dak and gangjeong. Dak means chicken and gangjeong is a type of traditional Korean confectionery, made with deep-fried rice puff and coated with honey followed by nuts, seeds, and beans. In short, dakgangjeong is the chicken version with similar concept of deep-frying and coating with a sticky syrup.
Dakgangjeong is a deep-fried crispy chicken coated in a sweet and spicy gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) sauce. In Korea, dakgangjeong is a popular street food dish. You can buy chicken with bones or boneless for dakgangjeong. Nevertheless, the boneless one has become very popular in Korea. It is sold and served with a paper bowl and disposable forks for convenience.
Tips on Making Dakgangjeong
1. Tenderize the chicken
Ever find that you cannot completely replicate the tender and moist restaurants’ stir-fried meats in your own wok? Marinating the chicken with salt, ginger, and rice wine will make the chicken more tender and flavorful. Therefor, sitting a cut of meat before you cook with those ingredients is an effective way to soften and break down tough muscle fibers. Most importantly, do not leave the meat in the marinade for to long so that it does not become too mushy. If your meat starts to look cooked around the edges, that is how you will know that your meat has been marinating for too long.
2. How to make the chicken crispy
If you want very crisp, crunchy skin for dakgangjeong, toss your chunks of chicken with corn starch or potato starch. They are great as the thickening agent for sauces and soups, and commonly used in Asian cooking for stir-fries. You can use either one in most recipes and wind up with very similar results. Starch helps the chicken brown easily on the outside and stay juicy inside.
The difficult part of frying chicken is achieving the crispy and crunchy coating and in the same it takes for the chicken to evenly cook through. The situation may either the chicken ends up being overcooked or still raw by the time the batter becomes golden brown. Double frying the chicken will make sure to fully cook the chicken without burning the outside coating. After that, you need to rest the chicken on a cooling rack or a paper towel-lined baking sheet to wick away some excess grease. Cool the chicken for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the chicken juice to redistribute throughout the meat.
3. How to make milder sauce
Gochujang or red chili paste is a savory, sweet, and spicy condiment in the sauce. Be aware that each different brand of gochujang may result in different spiciness, sweetness, and saltiness in dakgangjeong. For those who cannot eat spicy food, you can replace gochujang partially with ketchup for milder taste. On the other hand, adding a little bit of gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes) will make the sauce spicier.
(In photo : Dakgangjeong and Seaweed Rice Balls)
Dakgangjeong is deep-fried crispy chicken coated in a sweet and spicy gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste) sauce.
- 500 gr boneless chicken thigh/breast
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp rice wine or mirin
- 1/3 cup corn starch or potato starch
- cooking oil for deep frying
- chopped peanuts for topping (optional)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp gochujang
- 4 tbsp honey or corn syrup or rice syrup
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp grated ginger
Remove any visible fat from the chicken. Cut the chicken into bite sizes.
Season the chicken with salt, black pepper, garlic, ginger, and mirin. Let it stand for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients well. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and pour about 1 inch of oil. When the oil is hot enough, coat a piece of chicken with starch evenly and slide the coated chicken piece into the hot oil. Repeat until every chicken pieces are placed in the hot oil. Cook until light golden brown, turning over a few times with tongs.
Remove from oil and set them on a cooling rack. Turn off the heat, and let the chicken cool down for a few minutes.
Reheat the oil and fry the chicken again until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove from oil and set them on a cooling rack. Turn off the heat, and let the chicken cool down for a few minutes.
Remove oil from the skillet. Heat the mixed sauce with low heat until it starts to bubble. Simmer until it thickens slightly. Add the fried chicken into the sauce and stir well until every pieces are evenly coated.
Remove from the heat and transfer the coated chicken to a large platter.
Serve immediately and sprinkle with crushed peanuts (optional).