And then I thought I saw my chance. On the menu at Korean BBQ House, Albuquerque’s only Korean restaurant – where we eat with some regularity but almost always get either dolsot bibimbab (rice and vegetables in a sizzling-hot stone bowl with gochujang chile sauce) or lunch bento boxes – I spotted Hot Chicken: “Deep fried Korean style chicken with special hot sauce.” Sign me up!
I was imagining bone-in chicken pieces, hot and sticky and a mess to pick up with your hands, so I was a little disappointed when I received a pile of boneless chicken pieces instead. They were tasty, and the sauce was spicy and a little sweet, clearly including a lot of gochujang – and since gochujang is always a good thing, I couldn’t complain. But the chicken wasn’t as hot and juicy as I wanted, the sauce not as flavorful. I enjoyed the Hot Chicken, but I wanted something more.
So when I embarked on The Crispy Chicken Chronicles, I knew KFC would be right at the top of the list of things to try. I decided to try improving on Korean BBQ House’s Hot Chicken.
After my first attempt at chicken wings, where I found the meat a little bland, I knew I wanted to season the meat before frying. I also wanted to keep things fairly simple, so I settled on a quick marinade of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and black pepper. I let the chicken soak for about 15 minutes, then drained it. Eschewing any kind of fancy coating on this first try, I just tossed the chicken with flour and threw it in some 350-degree oil.
I know you aren’t likely to have a jar of Korean BBQ sauce kicking around in your pantry, but take a look in the Asian section of your supermarket, and you may well find a squeeze bottle of prepared gochujang. I’ve seen several varieties now – there’s an Annie Chung variety in my fridge, billing itself as “Korean sweet & spicy ‘goes with anything’ sauce.” Which is actually a pretty accurate name. You could use a sauce like that, perhaps thinned with a little water or sesame oil. Or mix together some plain gochujang from a tub – as far as I can tell there is no different word for prepared gochujang, sweetened and flavored, than for the plain red pepper paste – with some honey, sesame oil, and soy sauce until it tastes good.