In cities around the country with large Korean populations, you might find Korean fried chicken wings. With their shattery, thin crust and lacquered coating, they aren’t something you’re likely to eat just once and then say, “Well, that was satisfying, I’ll cross that off the old bucket list.” You’ll probably dream about them until you eat them again. But in these professional kitchens, making these amazing wings is a bit more arduous than we mere mortal home cooks are willing to take on. They are batter-dipped and then usually fried twice, which I can’t rationalize in my home kitchen, even during my most decadent moments.
So, I set out to make the whole thing more home-kitchen friendly and slightly healthier, or at least justifiable for a weeknight dinner. I used chicken tenders instead of wings and traded in the batter for a dusting of seasoned flour. To get a lightly crispy crust, I blended some rice flour in with the all-purpose flour, but you can use 100 percent all-purpose if that’s what you have on hand.
The floured strips are pan-fried in a moderate amount of oil and then, instead of being enveloped in a glaze, they are served with a flavorful sauce designed to be very lightly “drizzled” (it’s a thick sauce, so sort of lightly dotted) over the tenders, or just used as a dip.
Proceed with restraint as you determine your threshold for heat. Gochujang is a Korean hot chili pepper paste found at some Asian markets. It’s also available online. Or just grab the Sriracha or other hot sauce. You don’t want to miss these.
KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN TENDERS
30 minutes start to finish Serves 6
For the Sauce:
5 gloves garlic
1 1/2 -inch piece peeled ginger
1/3 cup less-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Gouchujang paste or Sriracha sauce, or to taste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
For the Chicken:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup rice flour (or an additional 1/3 cup all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, as needed
2 pounds chicken tenders
Hot cooked rice to serve
In a blender or a food processor, finely mince the garlic and ginger. Add the soy sauce, sugar, Gochujang or Sriracha, rice vinegar and sesame oil, and puree. Heat the sauce in a small pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.
In a shallow bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour, rice flour, salt and pepper. Line a plate with paper towels.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the chicken tenders in the seasoned flour mixture in batches, and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Make sure they have space between them in the pan so that they brown nicely. Transfer them to the paper towel-lined plate when they are cooked, and repeat until all of the chicken is cooked.
Transfer the chicken to a platter and use a spoon to sprinkle some or all of the thick sauce over it, or pass the sauce on the side for dipping.
Pass the rice and any remaining sauce.
Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories; 118 calories from fat; 13 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 110 mg cholesterol; 868 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 37 g protein.