Bonchon traces its origin in Korea and its famous fried chicken, bone-in or boneless, is coated in a thin batter before it is fried. This style of cooking fried chicken steaks is not, by any means, unique to Korea and Bonchon. There is a stall at the Shilin Night Market in Taipei called Hot Star Fried Chicken that sells crispy fried chicken steaks wrapped in paper. The queue is always long and happy customers have provided raving reviews all over the web.
In Japan, there is tebasaki chicken, a personal favorite.
While all three — Bonchon, Hot Star and tabesaki — are fried chicken with a crisp coating, the seasonings (generally added after the chicken is cooked) vary.
In this deconstructed Bonchon-style Korean fried chicken steaks recipe, the thigh fillets were pounded, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, dredged in rice flour, dipped in a light batter and fried twice. Yes, twice. Tebasaki is cooked in the same way. Fry the chicken at medium heat the first time, cool then fry a second time over high heat until lightly browned. Then, the cooked fillets are dipped in the glaze. The twice-fried technique prevents the glaze from turning the crisp coating soggy.
The photos above illustrate the entire process. Pay special attention to photo #3 which shows the lightly-browned pieces that had already been cooked twice and the paler pieces which had only gone the first frying process.
The batter is made with rice flour. Tapioca or corn starch can be substituted but wheat flour (the kind used for baking cakes) is not a good idea as it does not provide the delicate crispness so desirable in this dish. What is an even worse idea is to add egg to the batter because egg and flour results in bread. So, since crispness is the goal, ditch any urge to add egg.
Bonchon-style Korean Fried Chicken Steaks
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons gochujang (Korean spice paste)
- 6 chicken thigh fillets (with or without skin), each cut into two pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup rice flour (or tapioca or corn starch but DEFINITELY not wheat flour)
- enough cooking oil for deep frying
Make the glaze by mixing together the fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, sugar or honey, lemon juice and gochujang. Set aside.
Using a kitchen mallet, pound the chicken fillets to a quarter inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the rice flour (or starch) in a large bowl. Dredge each chicken piece; shake off the excess.
Add water to the remaining flour (or starch) to make a thin paste.
Heat the oil to medium.
Dip each chicken piece in the paste and fry for one minute per side. Transfer to a rack and cool for 10 minutes.
Turn up the heat to high. Fry the chicken pieces for about three minutes per side or just until golden. Move the cooked pieces to the rack.
Brush the chicken with the prepared glaze. Do this three times per side at 30-second interval to allow the glaze to be absorbed.
Serve the Korean fried chicken steaks immediately.