This week's Gastropost challenge is to write about your favourite condiment and it couldn't be a more timely subject for me because I have fallen madly and deeply in love with the korean hot pepper paste, gochujang. We are heavily into asian food but I have to admit, that I didn't know much about korean food beyond kimchi and bulgogi because we are too busy eating Japanese, Chinese and Thai food all the live long day.
Then, one day, we had lunch at This End Up here in Toronto and I ordered the fried chicken thigh sandwich:
FRIED CHICKEN THIGH - FRIED CHICKEN THIGH/ PICKLED CELERY AND CARROT/ ARUGULA/ GOCHUJANG SAUCE/ BLUE CHEESE SAUCE
that's straight from the menu people. I thought I had died and gone to heaven and I don't even LIKE sandwiches.
Then the chicken wings came out coated in this sticky red sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. God golly, miss molly! What the hell was that flavour? It wasn't siracha - siracha who??
It was sort of sweet and spicy and sticky and RIDICULOUS.
This was my first real taste of gochujang and I was hooked. I bought a tub of it immediately and started putting it in everything. In mayo for sandwiches, in greek yogurt for a korean crema for tacos, in my soup.... I was in deep trouble.
I made these green beans with it and then I made these bibimbap sopes and tacos with the crazy korean bbq sauce that is now my condiment that i drizzle on everything. Anyway, I have been craving the korean fried chicken in the sticky gochujang sauce called yang nyeom tong dak. I have had it quite a few times out and this recipe on Maangchi has been haunting me about I but avoided trying it at home because I just don't deep fry. Besides the fact that I am still pretty terrified at the very thought of a boiling vat of oil being my responsibility, I try to keep things as healthy as possible at home and save all the really decadent stuff for eating out. If Maangchi wants to come to my house and fry me up some of that delectable chicken, I would be the happiest girl on earth though, just putting that out there.
But then Gastropost came along and asked me to eat something that would show off my favourite condiment.
What to do?
I make this buttermilk oven baked chicken pretty often and thought that it might work if I turned this recipe into more of a chicken nugget thing and that tossed that chicken in the magical sauce. The sauce itself isn't the healthiest since it's really nothing but ketchup and corn syrup but baking the chicken instead of deep frying it would ease my guilt. Now, I have to be totally honest and tell you that you are not going to get that satisfying crunch you will get from using deep fried chicken but it didn't bother me enough to make me want to deep fry chicken any time soon. You know, it would be probably be great even with big chunks of chicken that you sauté instead of bread and bake.
I am telling you right now, straight up that I would eat this sauce on anything that isn't nailed down.
I served this with stickey rice, this spinach and a nice, light, crispy asian slaw to balance out the spiciness of the chicken - I don't find it super spicy but you might so just make the slaw, okay?
Spicy Korean Chicken
adapted from Maangchii
2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into big chicken nugget chunks (approx 600 g or just over 1 lb)about 1/3 cup of buttermilk ( I thawed out three cube sized chunks)pinch kosher salt1 tsp smoked paprika or plain paprika1 tsp grated ginger
1 cup panko
3 tbls all purpose flour
pinch kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbls sesame seeds
1 tbls canola oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup korean rice syrup or corn syrup
1/4 cup gochujang
1 tbls cider vinegar
*garnish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions
mix the buttermilk with paprika, ginger and salt and soak the chicken breasts all afternoon if you can but at least for a few hours.
Make the sauce:
Heat a frying pan over med heat and saute the garlic in the oil for a minute to soften it up before adding the rest of the ingredients. Cook, stirring pretty frequently so it doesn't burn, for about 7 minutes and then take the pan off the heat and set aside until the chicken is done. You can also do this while the chicken is cooking if you are organized and have everything all measured out of course.
preheat the oven to 425F
Line a baking tray with foil. Put a grill or some sort of rack on top so that the chicken won't be sitting on the actual pan and oil that rack. It's better if you get air and heat circulation around the whole pieces of chicken. Spray the rack with cooking oil.
mix the panko, flour, salt and pepper and sesame seeds in shallow bowl.
Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, shake off the excess marinade and coat completely in the crumb mixture and set on the rack. Spray the tops of the chicken with cooking oil (you can use a cooking spray or you can actually keep some olive oil in a small spray bottle in the kitchen) Let it sit for ten minutes before putting it the oven.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and the juices are clear.
Toss the hot chicken nuggets in the sauce and sprinkle the whole mess with more toasted sesame seeds and serve. I also topped it with green onion because The Kid is suddenly all about green onions.
Asian Ponzu Slaw
3 tlbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbls mirin
1 tbls sesame oil
2 tbls ponzu sauce
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups shredded nappa cabbage
2/3 cup to 1 cup grated daikon
1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped fine
Put the cabbage, daikon and peanuts in a big bowl. Mix the dressing in another small bowl, whisk well and pour over the cabbage salad. Toss well and let sit for at least ten minutes before serving.