This fusion dish is delicious and dangerously addictive. The crunchy morsels of golden chicken nuggets are coated in spicy sweet-and-sour glaze then tossed together with crispy leek and toasted peanuts.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) skinless, boneless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3-cm (1¼-in) piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 180 g (6½ oz/1 cup) potato starch
- 1 egg
- vegetable oil, for frying
- ½ onion, finely diced
- 5 dried red chillies, cut into 2-cm (¾-in) pieces
- 1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch), mixed with 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water
- 50 g (1¾ oz/⅓ cup) peanuts, skinned and toasted
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) vegetable oil
- 5 garlic cloves, halved lengthways
- 2-cm (¾ in) piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 leek, white part only, cut into thin strips
- 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time: 1 hour
- Combine the chicken, ginger, soy sauce, mirin and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well, then leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- To make the chilli oil, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the garlic is slightly charred. Add the leek and fry for another 3 minutes or until the leek has turned golden and crispy. Using a pair of tongs, remove the garlic, ginger and leek from the hot oil and reserve. Now add the chilli flakes to the hot oil and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and leave the oil to infuse for a few minutes. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl and set aside. Discard the chilli flakes.
- Add the potato starch and egg to the chicken and use your hands to massage the meat until it is well coated.
- Heat 2.5 cm (1 in) vegetable oil in a wok over medium–high heat until it reaches 175°C (345°F) when tested with a cooking thermometer. Working in batches, fry the chicken, turning occasionally, until it is golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes. Remove and transfer to a wire rack with paper towel underneath to catch the excess oil.
- Pour the oil out of the wok and wipe it clean with paper towel. Heat the chilli oil in the same wok over medium–high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until it is soft and translucent. Add the dried chilli and spring onion and stir-fry for another minute. Add the soy sauce, sugar and white vinegar, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the cornflour mixture into the sauce and stir continuously until smooth and the sauce has thickened.
- Return the chicken, fried garlic, ginger and leek to the wok, and stir in the peanuts. Mix until the chicken is nicely coated in the sauce, then transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately with steamed rice and a cold beer.
Recipe and images from Little Korea: Iconic Dishes and Cult Recipes by Billy Law, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99