The Serious Eats cookbook (Clarkson Potter, November) distills some of the vast store of information from the same-named website —reviews, recipes, best-of lists—into a more digestible portion.
While the book is rich with opinionated how-tos for pizza, burgers and sandwiches, it was the Korean Fried Chicken recipe that caught my eye. There are few reliable English language recipes out there for the wings the Bon Chon chain has made famous here in the U.S., and outside of major cities it can be difficult to access them. But once tasted, the chicken with extra extra-crisp unbattered skin and a spicy-sweet syrupy sauce is difficult to forget. The Serious Eats authors set out to replicate this little piece of heaven in a basket with a double coating of cornstarch and two separate dunks in hot oil. The result is not quite as crispy as the store-bought variety (I might drain the chicken on a rack after the final fry, instead of in a bowl where it sits in its own grease). Still, it certainly comes close, and the sauce is addictively finger-lick-worthy. This is a dish to make on a Sunday afternoon, when time is no object and a football game and beer are close at hand.
Korean Fried Chicken from Serious Eats: A Comprehensive Guide to Making and Eating Delicious Food Wherever You Are by Ed Levine and the editors of seriouseats.com
3 pounds mixed chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks, sectioned wings or breast halves split in half)
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1½ tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Chinese chili-garlic paste
2 quarts peanut oil
2 scallions, greens and whites, finely sliced
1. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and toss in a large bowl with ¼ cup cornstarch and 1 teaspoon salt until it’s well coated. Spread on a wire cooling rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside at room temperature while you make the sauce.
2. Combine the ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and chili-garlic paste in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer until syrupy, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a large mixing bowl and set it aside.
3. Heat the peanut oil in a large wok or Dutch oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ¾ cup cornstarch with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¾ cup water. Stir with a fork until a smooth slurry is formed. Working in two batches, dip the chicken pieces in the cornstarch slurry with tongs, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl; then carefully add the chicken to the hot oil. Fry, agitating constantly with a wire-mesh spider, until the chicken is light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Return to the wire rack and repeat with the second batch of chicken.
4. When ready to serve, reheat the oil to 400°F. Return the chicken to the oil in a single batch and cook, agitating constantly with the wire-mesh spider, until the chicken is deep golden brown and the center of the largest piece registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes.
5. Transfer the chicken to a paper-towel-lined bowl to drain the excess oil. Transfer to the bowl with the sauce. Add the scallions and toss the chicken to coat. Serve immediately.