Korean fried chicken is a whole culture in itself as both non-Koreans and Koreans experience a whole new world. The basic fried chicken flavors would be plain fried chicken (huraideu-chicken) and sweet-and-spicy or seasoned chicken (yangnyeom). Korean fried chicken is often a small or medium sized chicken as younger chickens have tender meat. The breading is slightly different from other fried chickens.
During the Goryeo Dynasty, the specific type of frying chicken was used with special seasoning made from vinegar and soy sauce. However, in the 1960s, the cooking method changed as there was whole chicken roasted over an electric oven. The breading was light and thin, and it was perfect for a small family.
However, the modern Korean fried chicken was created by Yu Seok Ho, in which the first Korean fried chicken franchise was born. Lims Chicken served a new way of eating chicken, smaller, individual pieces of fried chicken that was brought over from the United States. This is how the original fried chicken was born.
But the seasoned chicken was not created by the same man; it was created by Yun Jonggyu, as he wanted to create a new way of frying chicken. As the fried chicken breading would harden, he created a sauce in order to marinate it to be sweet and spicy. And thus, the yangnyeom chicken was born.
During the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s, there was a spur of fried chicken restaurants as laid off workers would open their own restaurants. This explains how there are thousands of Korean fried chicken restaurants and franchises in South Korea. Most popular franchises would be BB.Q Chicken, Pelicana Chicken, Bonchon chicken, and more.
There are varieties of Korean fried chicken that are the most popular and well known in current times.
Original fried chicken (Huraideu-chicken) is the most basic fried chicken. With a crunchy, light breading on the outside and the chicken meat being tender, it is the classic chicken to eat.
Sweet-and-spicy or seasoned chicken (Yangnyeom-chicken) is coated with a sweet and spicy gojuchang sauce that helps compliment the fried chicken.
Half-half (ban-ban) is the combination of original fried chicken and seasoned fried chicken, and it is one of the most popular ordered items on the menu.
Soy sauce chicken (ganjang chicken) is fried chicken coated in sweet and savory soy sauce, and it has hints of garlic which makes the perfect combination.
Green onion chicken (padak) is fried chicken that is topped with a large amount of thinly shredded scallions or green onions. They either have a light sweet sauce covered on top as well, making the chicken more flavorful.
Honey chicken is based out of a soy sauce that is more thicker, sweeter, and stickier due to the honey mixed in.
Old-style chicken (tongdak or yennal-tongdak) where the whole chicken is deep fried in oil with light breading, and a popular frying style in the 1970s.
Boneless chicken (sunsal chicken) is boneless chicken that is fried similarly to regular bone-in fried chicken. It is usually less oily and more crunchier than other boneless chickens.
And don’t forget to eat the pickled radish on the side as it helps cleanse your palette and refreshes your mouth!
If you are at the legal age of drinking, you need to try drinking beer as you eat chicken. This tradition is known as chi-maek, deriving the chi from chicken and maek from maekjoo (beer). It definitely is a fun way to enjoy fried chicken as there is a huge drinking culture in Korea. The slight oiliness you get from eating fried chicken can be washed away from drinking beer or carbonated drinks.
Chi-maek is the classic order to get whenever you are out hanging out with friends or want to watch a movie or a big sports game at home. Korean beer is easily and deliciously paired with chicken as they match one another. Korean fried chicken can generally be paired with any alcoholic beverage as it is one of the popular items on a gastropub or pocha menu.
Compared to others, Korean fried chicken is often coated with rice flour or potato starch that is lighter and crispier, as it makes it less battered. American fried chicken is usually soaked in flour and buttermilk, and this makes the chicken more fatty. And instead of leaving the chicken in for a long time in oil, Asian frying technique would be frying the chicken twice in shorter intervals to make light, crispy chicken.
Here are videos where non-Koreans are enjoying the delicious taste of Korean chicken with the great pair of beer. You have to try Korean fried chicken with friends; it’s an experience you won’t forget.