You may have heard people rave about KFC ( In this case, it stands for Korean Fried Chicken.) or Chimaek. In more and more places, people are opening up restaurants serving this popular dish. However, people who have been to Korea will often say that the fried chicken there is better than anything that you can find outside of Korea. So what makes fried chicken in Korea better than fried chicken in other places? Let’s look at 3 things that could account for why many feel this way.
In some Korean fried chicken recipes, the chicken is rinsed and then dried completely. This is different than many places outside of Korea where the chicken goes into a dry batter while the chicken is either wet with water or has been dipped in an egg batter before being dipped in the dry batter. As for the dry batter, the base of it is flower. However, there tends to be less ingredients added to the flower batter. This helps to make sure that the batter is not too salty. When using sauce, the sauce is not too heavy and is based on more natural ingredients. Also, when I was in Korea, I never saw any wings that were labeled atomic, sonic boom, fire or anything that would be overly spicy. Extremely spicy chicken can get to the point where you taste only heat; but with Korean friend chicken, you taste the flavor of the chicken.
Oil is very important when making fried chicken. The better the oil, the better the color and the flavor of the chicken. What makes Korean oil different than the oil used in places outside of Korea? The fact that it is clean oil. What do I mean my clean oil? Some places do not change out their oil that often. When they fry chicken, excess of the flower batter goes to the bottom of the oil and sits there. At a busy restaurant, there isn’t time to scoop this extra flower batter out on a constant basis. After a while, the oil can change color and become cloudy. In some places I’ve been to, dark smoke is seen coming off of the oil. If you want to know if the oil needs to be changed before you order chicken, smell the air outside. If you can smell the oil, it needs to be changed. When I was in Korea, I never smelled oil outside or inside of a restaurant. It may seem small, but it can make a world of difference when eating fried chicken.
The Chicken Itself
One of the things that I, and other people, notice right away when eating Korean fried chicken is that the pieces are smaller there than the pieces in North America or in other places. Why is that? Is it a case of Korean people being cheap? No. The fried chicken in Korea usually comes from chickens that are not given a bunch of shots or hormones to try and make them fatter faster. As one person put it, the chicken pieces there appear to be how chickens were years ago. The more natural the chicken, the better the taste of the chicken. The chicken is naturally juicy and flavorful despite not being a “super sized” chicken.
A light, crispy batter dipped chicken wing that is hormone free and cooked in hot, clean oil is enough to make a person’s mouth water. Korea did not invent fried chicken, but to many they seemed to have perfected it. If you are ever in Korea, make sure to get some friend chicken from any of the local smaller restaurants and see if you can taste a difference yourself. If you can, you may feel the way that many others do; that Korean Friend Chicken is the best fried chicken you’ve ever tasted.