Korean Popcorn Chicken (Dakgangjeong)
Spicy, sticky and crispy, there are two secrets to good Korean popcorn chicken: coat the chicken very lightly with starch then fry twice. The second frying adds that lovely crackle with every bite.
For the sauce
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chili paste) available in Asian groceries
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Marinate the chicken
- Wipe the chicken fillets with paper towels then cut into bite-size pieces.
- Place the cut chicken fillets in a bowl, add the ginger powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and mix well.
- Cover the bowl and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Toast the sesame seeds
- In an oil free pan, spread the sesame seeds and cook, tossing often, until browned and glistening with their natural oil.
- Move the sesame seeds to a plate and set aside.
Double fry the chicken
- In the same pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Toss the marinated chicken in starch and shake off excess.
- Working in batches, deep fry the chicken over medium heat (about 300F) for three to four minutes. Scoop out and spread on a rack (they will appear pale at this point but that's fine).
- Turn the heat up to high until the temperature of the oil reaches 350F.
- Dump all the chicken in the hot oil and fry for two to three minutes until nicely browned and crisp.
- Scoop out the chicken and spread on the rack once more.
Glaze the chicken
- Pour off the oil from the pan and pour in all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Boil the sauce, uncovered, until thick and sticky, and the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Dump the chicken into the sauce and toss to coat each piece evenly.
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the chicken and toss a few more times to distribute.
- Serve the Korean popcorn chicken as a snack or with rice as a main course.
From experience, wheat flour simply makes the worst choice for creating a light crispy crust on fried food. The coating gets soggy fast the moment it touches the sauce. So, use starch. Tapioca, potato or corn starch. If it has to be flour, make it rice flour.
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