Who doesn’t like fried chicken? I have been making the same fried chicken for years (pictured here and here), and have lusted after Korean fried chicken, so was excited to try David Chang’s version from the Momofuku cookbook.
Chang’s chicken is brined for several hours, which helps the flavor tremendously because he doesn’t use any dry rub or batter/dredge. The chicken is cooked in a two step process, starting with a steam, followed by a fry, with a thorough chill in the fridge in between. I have seen this steaming technique used in the past with chicken wings by Alton Brown and have been skeptical, but I’ll have to admit that it works well. The steaming cooks the chicken and renders fat out of the skin requiring deep frying for only a few minutes. The shorter time in oil produces a non-greasy, non-oily, crispy thin skin. (It was immediately after I threw out the steaming water that I realized that the chickeny/schmaltzy water would have made great rice. Next time!) After frying the chicken is tossed in a garlicky, gingery vinaigrette that Chang refers to as “octo vin”.
I found that the chicken, while cooked very nicely, didn’t stand up to the pungent vinaigrette. The entire process, from brine to the quick fry is designed to showcase the chicken itself. Chang writes that they use the expensive and flavorful poulet rouge in the restaurant, so the minimal technique makes sense. I was using commonly available Foster Farms Washington grown chicken, which is good but probably too subtle for this technique.
If I come across a poulet rouge or a poulet de Bresse I’ll give this recipe another shot. I may try the two step cooking with my regular fried chicken, and the octo vin will remain a staple in my fridge.
(Sorry about the bad picture. We were hungry!)