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Everything You Need To Know About The Other KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

Everything You Need To Know About The Other KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

Korean fried chicken, when done right and paired with the right side dishes and drinks, is a true treat that’ll leave you drooling for more! In Korea, it is commonly enjoyed as a meal, appetizer, or snack. You'll often see it eaten as Anju, or a food that is specifically meant to be consumed with alcohol. I have lived in the American South all of my life and tried the best fried chickens, and I can still say without a doubt that Korean fried chicken is a unique experience all in itself. So naturally, I wanted to share all of the tips that I have in order to maximize your Korean fried chicken experience! 

1. What’s The Difference Between Korean Fried Chicken And American Fried Chicken?


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The biggest differences that I personally have experienced are how the chicken is fried, what flavors are used, and the different cultural experiences associated with the act of eating fried chicken. In Korea, it’s important that the chicken is not only crunchy, but also (typically) spicy, non-greasy, moist, and perfectly balanced in seasoning or sauce. Like the States, Korean fried chicken is also consumed with alcohol, at bars, after work or dinner, and during big sports games. However, the drinking culture and fried chicken experience has its own cultural uniqueness!

2. Start With Those Disposable Gloves! 


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While Korean fried chicken is enjoyed at bars and restaurants alike, it is also a wildly popular takeout food for late nights and get-togethers since delivery in Korea (especially Seoul) is so affordable, accessible, and widespread! Oftentimes, most restaurants will offer you disposable plastic gloves to avoid those spicy, smelly hands that you’re left with days after eating fried wings! The gloves are so popular that you can also find many places with finger gloves, specifically meant to be worn on your thumb and forefinger! Finger lickin’ good has never been so sanitary, hassle-free, and easy to hide from others!😂 Say goodbye to those burning, tear-filled eyes you’re left with after accidentally rubbing your eyes the next day. 

3. Unique Frying Technique Revealed!


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If you’ve ever eaten Korean fried chicken, you’ll notice the thin, yet crispy crunch first and foremost. While American-style fried chicken usually consists of a thick, browned, well-seasoned crust with flabby, moist meat, Korean-style fried chicken often comes across as healthier and less fatty. That’s because most of the fat is taken out during the frying process and the chicken is barely seasoned and dipped in a fine, thin batter. Also unique to this process is the double frying operation. Most Korean fried chicken is fried once and then taken out, shaken of excess oil, and rested, before going back into the fryer for a second time for the perfect crisp. The result is a much thinner version of the American fried chicken and the meat is often cooked really well and is almost light in texture and flavor. This makes it great for a next day snack, because it maintains its crispy exterior while not being so fatty, chewy, or greasy! Many Korean fried chicken restaurants also often boast healthier frying methods that involve using 100% olive oil. 

4. The Classic Flavors and Seasonings You Have To Know!


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Yangnyeom Chicken (Seasoned Chicken): This is the most popular Korean fried chicken "seasoning" and we highly recommend you try this! When fried chicken first became popular in Korea, many Koreans didn't enjoy how oily and greasy it was. So, one way to remedy this was to create a sweet and spicy, gochujang glazed sauce that fit the Korean palate much better! This has now become the much-loved style and flavor that most people get, and for good reason! It's absolutely addicting and cuts into the natural greasiness of fried chicken and is characterized by its sticky consistency and red color!

Original Fried Chicken: Along with the yangnyeom chicken,the original fried chicken is also a frequently ordered variation. Most often, Koreans will buy the ban-ban (half-half) order of this, in which half the chicken is dressed in the yangnyeom chicken and the other half is plain. Usually, Koreans ask for flavored powder on the side for the plain fried chicken!

Flavored Powders: Available separately on the side or directly coated on your chicken, flavored powders are hugely requested when Koreans order fried chicken. This is because of the sheer variety of flavors and tastes. Popular options are usually cheese powders, a sour lime-like spicy powder, and your plain old salt and pepper!

Soy Sauce Chicken: This is a fried chicken glazed in a sweet, savory, garlicky sauce. Often topped with thinly shredded scallions for an even stronger cut into the oiliness of fried chicken and an even sharper flavor, this variation is also a highly popular option!

5. Radish Side Dish + Other Options


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If you go into any Korean fried chicken restaurant, you've probably wondered where the celery and carrot sticks are. While in the United States, it is common practice to serve celery and carrots with fried chicken, in Korea, it's common to serve pickled radish! Before turning your nose at the sound of it, you have to try these small, bite-sized, crunchy, vinegary, and mildly sweet white cubes of radish with your chicken. Just as carrots and celery give you a refreshing palate cleanse and break from the greasy, oiled chicken wings, so does the radish! With a nice zing, the radishes cut into the heavier qualities of the fried chicken. Other popular side dishes and menu options at most Korean fried chicken restaurants are corn cheese, sausage and rice cake sticks, a variety of salads, tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and much more! 

6. Chimaek is a must!


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Drinking a light beer with Korean fried chicken is so popular that Koreans have even come up with a slang word for it, known as Chimaek. Chimaek is the combination of two words: chicken and maekju (or beer). Again, Koreans love to cut the heavier notes of fried chicken with lighter, sharper flavors. In this case, the carbonated, cold beer is the perfect drink to make you relax and go "ahhh" after a long day. It's common practice to go out for chimaek with friends and coworkers and play some good old drinking games. If you didn't know, Korea has a HUGE drinking culture, so one often has to be prepared to spend the whole night drinking and eating! For popular Korean drinking games to spice up your night, look here

7. Don't Forget About The Soju!


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Somaek is Korean slang for the combination of soju and maekju (beer). It's often consumed when Koreans want to get drunk faster or simply because of its slightly sweeter, stronger taste. This is also a popular drink to combine with fried chicken! While drinking like a Korean is certainly enjoyable, it's not all fun and games. Korean drinking rules and customs are quite distinct, so it's definitely good to know some polite and formal rules before engaging in a major drinking bout! You can also learn more about drinking soju here.