Last updated on February 17th, 2024 at 12:42 am
Have you tasted Korean fried chicken? With thousands of franchises and many varieties, it’s hard to go wrong with fried chicken when you’re in the country.
Crash Landing on You, Best Chicken, and Business Proposal. These are just a few of many Korean dramas that never failed to feature Korean fried chicken. When we are watching a series like this, we can’t stop craving some crunchy and flavorful Korean fried chicken. We all know that fried chicken is ubiquitous worldwide, but what makes Korean fried chicken unique? Why are people so obsessed with Korean fried chicken? These are just a few of the questions we will answer in this blog.
Brief History Of Korean Fried Chicken
When you go to South Korea, it’s impossible not to see any Korean fried chicken restaurants. They are everywhere. At first, it’s hard to imagine how South Koreans love fried chicken so much since they have the Buddhist influence for a long time. But what happened in South Korea? How did Korean fried chicken end up to become a global phenomenon? Let’s answer all those questions below!
Did you know that it wasn’t that long ago when Korean fried chicken became a dish in South Korea? During the old times, chicken dishes are often made with soup like Samgyetang (삼계탕) or Ginseng chicken soup.
During the 1960s, Korea’s first rotisserie chicken opened. They sold roasted chicken but not fried chicken.
The 1980s marked the history of fried chicken in South Korea. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) arrived in the country, and fried chicken quickly gained popularity. Because of this popularity, different chicken chains and restaurants started making fried chicken more Korean. They started making sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken by coating it with a sauce made from Gochujang, a Korean red hot pepper paste. This unique Korean flavor made people of all ages fall in love with Korean fried chicken.
South Korea’s economy hit rock bottom with the Asian financial crisis. Many people lost their jobs, many businesses closed, and many were left poor. Koreans are finding a way to make a living. They have to survive. This is when the chicken business suddenly went huge. People started to open their own Korean fried chicken businesses in 1998. This business only required low investment costs.
Do you remember the scene in Crash Landing On You where they watched a football match while eating Korean fried chicken and drinking beer? This might sound very typical, but it’s one of the very touching moments seeing North Koreans and South Koreans cheering as one for the Korean team. But why did I mention this?
In the year 2002, the World Cup was held, and after this, the number of chicken franchises doubled. This is also the time when Koreans begin to enjoy chimaek (치맥) which is a combination of fried chicken (치킨 chikin) and beer (–맥주 maekju). Until today, this is still one of the best combos Koreans are obsessed with.
Today, Korean fried chicken has indeed become a global trend. It is also popular among foreigners who are visiting the country. There are 87,000 Korean fried chicken restaurants in Korea, which is significantly more than the branches of McDonald’s worldwide. The growing number of Korean fried chicken franchises reached 20% of the total franchises in South Korea, and it continues to grow.
Why Do People Love Korean Fried Chicken?
Fried chicken has been around the world since time immemorial. But, what makes people gravitate to Korean fried chicken? What’s with Korean fried chicken that many people, even non-Koreans, love? Here are some of the reasons why:
Authentic Korean Flavor
When the fried chicken arrives in Korea, Koreans immediately give it a Korean touch. They added authentic Korean flavors, and it became an instant hit among Koreans and foreigners. They localized the flavor of fried chicken, and one of the most famous flavors is the sweet and spicy Korean fried chicken. Korean fried chicken recipes include two great sauce options: soy garlic and spicy red sauce for a thin, crispy, and crunchy crust.
Korean fried chicken franchises are the most competitive franchises in South Korea. You can see Korean fried chicken restaurants and chains everywhere, and you can buy it at an affordable price. Below is a list top 5 fried chicken franchises in Korea.
|Name of Brand
|No. Of Branches
|Golden Olive Chicken
|￦18,000 (14.20 USD)
|￦18,000 (14.20 USD)
|Sweet and Sour Chicken
|￦18,000 (14.20 USD)
|￦17,000 (13.41 USD)
|￦15,000 (11.83 USD)
It Can Be Delivered Anytime And Anywhere
As modernization and industrialization continue, there are lots of apartment complexes that are built in South Korea. This gave way for small franchises to reach more customers through deliveries. In South Korea, Korean fried chicken is the most popular delivery food you can order anytime and anywhere.
Influence Of The Korean Wave
Korean cuisine has incredibly gained so much popularity because of the Korean Wave or Hallyu (상세보기), more particularly in K-drama. Koreans have their unique way of making us crave their food, and they never fail to promote them in K-dramas and others.
Varieties Of Korean Fried Chicken
We are all familiar with the classic Kentucky Fried chicken that is famous worldwide, but how about Korean fried chicken? Koreans have developed different varieties of chicken based on flavors. They use secret ingredients to make it taste more Korean. Since there is a huge competition between Korean fried chicken franchises, the owners continuously develop different varieties to make their store unique and cater to their customers’ tastes.
후라이드 치킨 (Huraideu-chikin) – Fried Chicken
The first variety is the ordinary Korean fried chicken. They call it Huraideu-chikin (후라이드 치킨) in Korean. It almost tastes like the usual fried chicken, but it has an extra crunch that is a signature of Korean fried chicken. This is the perfect variety for those not in the mood for flavored chicken.
양념 치킨 (Yangnyeom-chikin) – Seasoned Chicken / Spicy Korean Fried Chicken
The Yangnyeom-chicken variety of Korean fried chicken is one of the signature Korean fried chickens. It has the sweet and spicy flavor that Koreans love. Yangnyeom chicken is a sticky, spicy, and sweet sauce-coated double-deep-fried chicken.
반반 (Banban) – Half-Half
Can’t decide if you want a flavored or plain Korean fried chicken? Well, there’s no problem at all. You can order Banban (반반), which is short for yangnyeom ban, huraideu ban (양념 반, 후라이드 반). It is half yangnyeom and half huraideu Korean fried chicken. It is also the best variety to order if you have it with your friends or family with different tastes.
간장 치킨 (Ganjang-chikin) – Soy Sauce Chicken
Another all-time favorite variety of Korean fried chicken is the Ganjang-chikin or (간장 치킨). This variety of Korean fried chicken has a sweet and savory sauce made with ganjang (Soy sauce), which is often garlicky.
파닭 (Padak) – Scallion Chicken
Padak (파닭) is a Korean fried chicken variety made of double-fried chicken with very thin, crispy skin with thinly shredded scallions (green onions/ spring onions) and garlic soy mustard sauce.
허니 치킨 (Honey-Chikin) – Honey Sauce Chicken
This variety of Korean fried chicken is made of soy sauce and honey. It’s almost like soy sauce chicken, except it’s sweeter and stickier or has a thicker sauce.
치즈 파우더 치킨 (Chijeu Paudeo Chikin) – Chicken With Cheese Powder
If you’re familiar with the K-drama My Love From Another Star, there are multiple scenes of Jun Ji Hyun eating Prinkle (뿌링클 치킨), which is a flavor developed from a Korean fried chicken brand BHC. Prinkle is a variety of Korean fried chicken with cheese powder. This quickly became a trend in South Korea and all over the world.
통닭 (Tongdak) – Whole Chicken
Remember the scene in Reply 1988 when Choi Taek won in a Go-Game competition, and he treated the whole neighborhood chicken? That chicken is far from the Korean fried chicken we know today. It is called Tongdak (통닭), or Korean old-style chicken. This variety of chicken has thin skin, and it’s not as crispy as the popular types today, but this gained its popularity back in the 60s and 70s.
순살 치킨 (Sunsal-chikin) – Pure Flesh Chicken
This style of chicken is the boneless chicken we know. This is a very popular variety of Korean fried chicken since it’s easy to eat and comes in different flavors.
깐풍기(Kkanpunggi) – Spicy Garlic Fried Chicken
Another variety of Korean fried chicken is Kkanpunggi (깐풍기). This Korean fried chicken recipe originated from Chinese cuisine, but Koreans add their flavor to make it taste more like Korean. Kkanpunggi is a sweet, sour, spicy sauce of spicy garlic fried chicken and veggies.
Korean Fried Chicken Recipe
Did the different varieties of Korean fried chicken make you crave it? Then why not make your own? Go and put it in your recipe card. Here are the ingredients and procedures for Korean fried chicken.
Korean fried chicken’s three major ingredients are chicken, batter, and sauce. If you’re making a plain fried chicken, you won’t need the ingredients for the sauce.
In South Korea, boneless, skinless chicken breast meat is used in fried chicken restaurants. Here are the parts of chicken used in Korean fried chicken.
- Chicken wings
- Chicken tenders
- Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs
- Bone-in Chicken Thighs
- vegetable oil/ cooking oil
- kosher salt
- baking powder
- freshly ground black pepper
- garlic powder
- grated ginger
- corn starch
- potato starch/ cornstarch
- all-purpose flour
- white pepper
- sesame oil
- soy sauce
- brown sugar
- gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- cup honey
- tomato sauce/ketchup
- rice vinegar
- green onion
- roasted sesame seeds
- cocktail peanuts
After learning all the ingredients, let’s enumerate the step-by-stem procedure.
The first step is to get the chicken pieces and marinate them. The usual chicken parts used in Korean fried chicken are chicken wings and drumsticks, but you cal also use chicken tenders, bone-in chicken thighs, and boneless skinless chicken thighs. It will depend on the Korean fried chicken recipe you are making. You can chop the chicken pieces according to your desired size. After preparing your chicken pieces, you can now proceed to marinate them.
Marinating the chicken is important in achieving a perfect Korean fried chicken. You wouldn’t want your fried chicken to be flavorful on the outside but not inside, right? So, make sure to marinate it well.
To do that, first. You’ll need to get a large mixing bowl. Combine all the dry ingredients for the chicken. This includes pepper, salt, garlic powder, and baking powder. Some also put peanut oil and vodka for extra taste. Put the chicken pieces, rub in the grated ginger, and then season with the salt mixture. Some people want to marinate it for a long time, so they put it in the fridge for about 5-6 hours.
For a thin crust and crunchy exterior, you need a large bowl. Toss the wings in cornstarch and two tbsp of water. Squeeze and dredge the chicken pieces until totally covered.
When the chicken pieces are coated completely, you’ll now proceed to deep-frying chicken. Koreans double fry their chicken to achieve crunchiness, so the next step is first frying. Heat 4-5 cups of vegetable oil in a deep pot or deep-fryer to deep-fry the chicken. The oil temperature should be 325°F/163°C. Carefully put the chicken in hot oil and do not over-crowd them. Cook the chicken until lightly crisped and golden brown. Flipping them with tongs as needed.
- Whole wings – 6-8 minutes
- Drumsticks: 9-11 minutes
- Whole bone-in chicken thighs: 9-11 minutes
- Boneless chicken tenders: 3-4 minutes
- Drumettes and flats/wingettes: 4-6 minutes
- Use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil, then adjust the heat to maintain that temperature after adding the chicken.
- Fill the pot halfway with oil to prevent heated oil from overflowing or splattering too much during frying.
- Filter the oil through a fine-mesh strainer between batches to remove any remaining particles. This extends the life of your oil while also keeping the flavors pure (rather than adding a burnt aroma to your chicken).
- Some people nowadays use an air fryer instead of a pot.
When first frying is done, drain the cooked chicken on a cooling rack or wire rack set over a sheet pan. While waiting, you can prepare the ingredients for the sauce.
For the second frying, preheat the frying oil to 400 degrees. Return the chickens to the pot and deep fry the second time or until the skin is crisp and crunchy.
While draining the chickens after first frying, proceed to make the sauce. You will need a saucepan. Put butter, dried chilis, garlic, and ginger, over medium-low heat and wait for it to simmer until aromatic. After 2 minutes, add the gochujang, vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce. Wait for it until it bubbles. Add honey and brown sugar and cook until dissolved and the sauce has thickened somewhat.
After the sauce is done, get the chicken once again. You may want to put it on a large plate and pour the sauce until the chickens are coated. Once all the chicken is coated, you can add peanuts, green onions, and roasted sesame seeds to garnish it.
After completing all the steps, the chicken is ready to be served. You can enjoy it with your family and friends.
Korean Fried Chicken Brands
In South Korea, you can go to the nearest Korean fried chicken chain near you or have chicken delivered. Here are the popular fried chicken franchises that K-drama fans might be familiar with:
BB.Q Chicken (Best Of The Best Quality)
This is the Korean Fried Chicken brand featured in different Korean dramas like Crash Landing On You. It opened its business in 1995, and it has become the symbol of Korean fried chicken even today. You’ll know that its products are delicious and well-loved by customers because even if it’s way pricier than other brands, customers are still ordering. Their best-seller Korean fried chicken is the Golden Olive Chicken.
BHC is known for its unique special menus that always draw the attention of its customers. It opened its business in 1997. One perfect example is the Prinkle which is chicken that has the flavor of cheddar cheese, garlic, and onion.
Nene Chicken (네네치킨)
Nene Chicken is a Korean fried chicken franchise best known for its Snowing Chicken and Padak (Green Onion Chicken). They have been in the industry since 1995, and they are known for their three special features – packaging, celebrity endorsement strategy, and chicken products.
This is one of the brands that invented the sweet and sour chicken, and it is often referred to as the original Korean fried chicken. Pelicana began operations in 1982.
When it comes to soy sauce chicken, Kyochon is perfect for satisfying your cravings. It was founded in 1991. Their chicken products have flavors that people of all ages can enjoy.
More Korean Fried Chicken Brands
- Buloman Sutbul Barbecue (불로만 숯불 바베큐)
- Bonchon Chicken (본촌치킨)
- Dasarang (다사랑)
- Chungman Chicken (충만치킨)
- Mexicana (멕시카나)
- Goobne Chicken (굽네치킨)
- Jadam Chicken (자담치킨)
- Han’s Chimaek (한스 치맥)
- Gcova Chicken (지코바치킨)
- Puradak (푸라닭)
- Norang Tongdak (노랑통닭)
Korean Words And Phrases Related To Fried Chicken
|fried chicken with spicy sauce
|fried chicken and beer
Learn Korean Now!
Korean fried chicken is one of the favorite foods that Koreans enjoy. Those who are of legal age mostly partner it with beer. But, aside from beer, it is best enjoyed with friends, family, or colleagues. In fact, even their K-dramas feature Korean fried chicken enjoyed with company. So, why not level up your Korean dining experience and learn Korean with Ling App.
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They say that good food is better when shared with good friends. So, learn Korean with Ling App and enjoy talking with your friends using the Korean language.