Crispy Candied Chicken Bites are guaranteed to disappear in a nanosecond. These appetizer-sized, deep-fried pieces are inspired by a popular Korean street-food snack called Yangnyeom chicken (a.k.a. “the other KFC”). Their sweet-with-heat glaze gets its umami punch from gochujang, a hot (but not fiery) Korean fermented red chili pepper paste. Double-frying (which takes little additional effort) makes the exterior super-crunchy, while keeping the chicken juicy inside. Serves 4-6, but only if your guests show restraint.
Crispy Candied Chicken Bites
- 1 lb boneless chicken thighs skin-on or skinless, cut into approx. 1" pieces
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 " piece fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ tsp baking powder
- Oil for deep frying
- Sesame seeds and/or finely chopped chives or green onions for garnish
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine, mirin, dry sherry, or dry vermouth
- 1 ½ tbsp gochujang hot red pepper paste see Tips, below
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp rice vinegar or apple
- cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp honey
- Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Add garlic and ginger, toss well, cover, and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. (This step can be done up to one day before frying the chicken.)
- In a small pot, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Stir in ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until it thickens slightly (4–5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and set aside. (This step can be done a few hours ahead.)
- Combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and ¼ tsp salt in a medium bowl. When ready to cook chicken, add ¾ cup cold water, and stir until smooth to make a thin batter.
- Pour at least 1" of oil into a heavy pot or wok (or use a deep fryer) and heat to 335˚F. (No thermometer? See Tips, below)
- Using tongs, dip chicken bits into batter one at a time. Shake off excess, then carefully lower into oil. Work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the oil. When pieces are light-golden (about 3–4 minutes), remove from oil with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon. Drain on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken, letting the oil return to 335˚F between batches. (This can be done an hour or so ahead of time.) Discard remaining batter.
- Just before serving, warm the sauce and reheat the oil, this time to 350˚F. Add as many chicken pieces as your pot can comfortably fit and deep fry again until they’re a deep golden brown (2–3 minutes). Drain on wire rack.
- Toss chicken pieces in the sauce with tongs, a handful at a time, allowing excess to drip off before placing on a serving plate. Sprinkle chicken with sesame seeds, chives, or green onions and serve immediately.
out of deep frying. If you don’t have one, dip a wooden chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil; if it bubbles vigorously around the utensil, the oil is ready for frying. • Gochujang is available in Asian groceries and some large supermarkets. Look for squat red tubs with “Korean style” and “hot
pepper paste” on the label. If you can’t
find it, substitute 1½–2 tsp Sriracha, plus an additional tablespoon of ketchup.
Crispy Candied Chicken Bites originally published as part of the Gluttonous Guide to Cottage Entertaining in the Aug/Sept 2022 issue of Cottage Life.
Looking for more things to serve with these Crispy Candied Chicken Bites? Try this Napa Cabbage Salad, a recipe contest favourite, and for dessert, nothing beats this late-summer classic: Blueberry-Peach Crisp.
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