(Korean sweet and spicy fried chicken)
If you like your chicken fried and spicy, yangnyeom dak (양념닭) is for you. "Yangnyeom" is Korean for seasoned, and "dak" is the word for chicken. In this amazing dish, batter-fried chicken gets a good toss in a spicy-sweet tomato sauce.
Yangnyeom dak is a favorite for takeout in South Korea, and several franchise chains serve their own version made with top-secret recipes. The key to a really crunchy coating around moist and juicy meat is the double-fry method that Korean cooks use. This recipe is a simple approximation of takeout versions that is easy to make at home. Feel free to tweak to your liking.
6 to 8 servings as an appetizer
For the chicken
- Chicken wings, or boneless, skinless chicken thighs -- 3 pounds
- Salt and pepper -- to season
For the batter
- Cornstarch or potato starch -- 1/2 cup
- Flour -- 1/2 cup
- Baking powder -- 1 teaspoon
- Salt -- 1 teaspoon
- Pepper -- 1/2 teaspoon
- Egg, beaten -- 1
For the sauce
- Oil -- 2 tablespoons
- Garlic, minced -- 3 or 4 cloves
- Ketchup -- 1/2 cup
- Rice syrup or light corn syrup -- 1/2 cup
- Gochujang (hot pepper paste) -- 1/4 cup
- Cider vinegar or lemon juice -- 2 tablespoons
- Sugar -- 2 tablespoons
- Salt -- 1 teaspoon
- Oil -- for deep frying
- Toasted sesame seeds -- 1 tablespoon
- If you are using chicken thighs, cut them into chunks about the size of a walnut. Toss the wings or thigh meat in a bowl with salt and pepper to season and set aside.
- In another large bowl, mix together the cornstarch or potato starch, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together with a fork. Add the seasoned chicken and pour the egg over the chicken. Using clean hands, mix the chicken and egg into the flour until the batter is smooth and the chicken is well coated. Remove the chicken pieces to a baking sheet in a single layer and set aside to let the batter coating rest a bit.
- While the battered chicken is resting, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium flame. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic just begins to brown. Stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is glossy and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste and set aside.
- Heat 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium flame to a temperature of around 375°F. Working in batches, fry the battered chicken in the hot oil, turning to brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a clean baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Let the browned chicken rest for about 15 minutes, then refry in batches for around 6 to 8 minutes per batch until well browned and crispy.
- Pour the prepared sauce into a large, clean bowl. Add the fried chicken to the bowl and toss to coat all pieces well. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately with pickled vegetables and cold beer.
Yangnyeom Dak Variations
- Substitute sweet rice flour for half or all of the wheat flour if you like.
- If you don't like using rice or corn syrup in your sauce, use 1/4 cup sugar instead. The sauce probably won't have quite the gloss it would otherwise though.