Yang Nyeom Chicken (Click on the dots below to see more photos)
Yang Nyeom Chicken (Click on the dots below to see more photos)
Many cultures around the world have some version of fried chicken made with varying seasonings and batter ingredients. Unless you’re a vegetarian, fried chicken is one of those universal foods that nearly everyone loves. One unique regional variation is Korean yang nyeom chicken. With its unique, crunchy-on-the-outside and chewy-on-the inside texture, coated in a sweet and spicy garlic paste, yang nyeom chicken is a true comfort food in Korea. This is always something I look forward to whenever I go back to visit my mother’s family home in Korea, and it is most commonly available through a delivery service, like pizza. It took me quite a few tries to finally figure out how to make that chewy doughnut-like batter along with its special sauce, but it’s easier than you’d think. This week I’d like to share with you my own yang nyeom chicken recipe. (Serves 3-4 people)

Ingredients:

2 lbs. chicken thighs with skin and bone
34 tsp. salt
14 tsp. black pepper
For the batter:
13 cup sweet potato starch
14 cup glutenous rice flour
14 cup all-purpose flour
12 tsp. baking soda
13 cup water
1 egg
For the sauce:
2 cloves garlic
13 cup ketchup
212 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. olive oil
14 cup water
2 tsp. sesame seeds
2 to 3 cups canola or vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

Cut the chicken thighs into 2- to 3-inch chunks. Season it with salt and pepper, cover it up and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour. (photo 1)

While you are waiting for the chicken to marinate, you can prepare the sauce. Mix the ketchup, gochujang, honey and cider vinegar. (photo 2) Also cut up the garlic and set both aside. Gochujang is a Korean hot pepper paste made with fermented soybeans and glutenous rice. It’s got a very unique, sweet and spicy flavor that cannot be replaced. You can find it at almost all Asian grocery stores, but it’s also available at local specialty food stores in the midcoast. Gochujang is great for stir-frying or with bulgogi (Korean BBQ) as well. (Recipe available at www.thewayriceshouldbe.blogspot.com.) We also often use it as a dipping sauce for cucumbers or carrot sticks, which we call pangchan (Korean side dishes). If you can’t find gochujang, you can also just substitute it with other types of Asian sauces, such as sambal hot sauce. But I don’t recommend using Sriracha because it’s too strong!

To make the batter, start by whisking together the sweet potato starch, glutenous rice flour, all-purpose flour and baking soda. You may substitute sweet potato starch with corn-starch, but unfortunately you can’t replace the glutenous rice flour because that’s what gives the batter its chewy, doughnuty texture. You can find it in specialty food stores under the name “sweet rice flour” or “sticky rice flour.” Mix in egg and water and stir until it becomes like a pancake batter. (photos 3 & 4)

Coat the marinated meat in the batter. In a large sauce-pan, bring 2 to 3 cups of oil to 350 F. You can also just drop a little bit of the batter to test if the oil is hot enough. If the batter sizzles and floats to the top, it means the oil’s ready for frying. Fry the chicken (in batches if needed) for 8 minutes. (photos 5 & 6) Drain the excess oil, as we will be frying them again later.

In a large skillet, heat up 2 tsp. olive oil and stir-fry the chopped garlic for 30 seconds. Then pour in the mixed sauce and 14 cup water. Cook for two to three minutes until it thickens up. (photo 7)

In the meantime, toss all the fried chicken back into the oil on high heat and fry for another three minutes. This will make the chicken extra crispy. Once the chicken has been re-fried, toss it in the sauce and make sure the pieces are all evenly coated. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds and it’s ready to serve.

Yang nyeom chicken is great on its own or on rice and even with a cold beer, which is how Koreans typically eat it.

For more Korean recipes, visit www.thewayriceshouldbe.blogspot.com.