Sweet, sour, & spicy Korean fried chicken

Yangnyeom-tongdak 양념통닭

Hi everybody,
I’m finally posting a recipe that so many of you have requested over the years!

When I lived in Korea, this type of chicken was called yangnyeom-tongdak. As I mentioned in the video, yangnyeom means “seasoned” and tongdak means “a whole chicken.” Traditionally a small whole chicken was cut into chunks, coated in batter or dried ingredients, fried, and mixed with a sweet, sour, and spicy sauce.

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We used to order a half or whole chicken from one of the yangnyeom-tongdak places in my neighborhood.

I called them and said: “I want a half chicken!”

Then the owner of the chicken place said: “Yes, ok!”

Fresh, hot yangnyeom-tongdak would be delivered to my home in 30 minutes!

One day I went in for takeout and had a chance to watch the owner making the chicken for me. My eyes burned into his hands as I watched. He used garlic, tomato ketchup, sugar, and hot pepper paste!

Some time later I made it at home with the recipe I had seen him use. It was perfect. My children said: “Mom, this tastes exactly like the chicken place!”

I always preferred my dakgangjeong to yangnyeom-tongdak, and whenever I had a party, event, or wanted to surprise people, I made dakgangjeong because everybody loved it and was curious about the recipe.

So when I posted the recipe on YouTube, I was very happy to hear that so many people made it and let me know it was a big hit. So far it’s been watched 292,931 times on YouTube.

A yangnyeom-tongdak place was on every corner in Korea when I lived there. All of them tasted similar, the only difference between this place or that place came down to 3 elements: batter mix, the ratio of dried ingredients, and the sauce. Many entrepreneurs created their own recipes to avoid paying high fees to a well-known franchises.

I remember some of funny popular franchise names such as:

  • “Mother-in-Law’s Chicken” (Korean mothers-in-law are always nice to the sons-in-law): 장모님 치킨 (Jangmonim Chicken)
  • “Son-in-Law Mr.Lee’s chicken”: 이서방 치킨 (Lee Seobang Chicken)
  • “Pelicana Chicken”: 펠리카나 치킨 (Pelicana Chicken)
  • “Wife’s Parent’s House Chicken”: 처가집 치킨(Cheogajip Chicken)
  • “Very Large Chicken”: 아주커 치킨 (Ahju-keo Chicken)

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After I left Korea, I’m sure many more places have sprung up, each with their own recipe.

In the “recipe request” section on the forum on my website, how many people have requested this type of chicken dish? Yes, so many! Some people emailed me, too! Kyochon Chicken, Bonchon Chicken … I can tell you that they’re all very similar, the only differences being those 3 elements that I mentioned.

I have developed this recipe over 3 years. Whenever I made this fried chicken, I tried different mixes of dried ingredients and different ways to make the sauce. At first I tried not to use rice or corn syrup or ketchup and I replaced them with more natural, wholesome ingredients, but I was never satisfied with the appearance, taste, and flavor. So far this is the best ratio that I have come up with and I feel it’s time to release this recipe to my lovely readers. What shall I call this chicken? Maangchi’s Chicken?  : )

Enjoy the recipe and I will let you know if I ever invent a better one.

Ingredients (for 3-4 servings)

Directions

  1. Rinse chunks of chicken in cold water. Drain.
    *tip: You could use chicken wings, too. About 24 wings will be 3 pounds.
  2. Add 1 ts ground black pepper and 1 ts kosher salt.
  3. Add ½ cup potato starch powder, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup sweet rice flour, 1 ts baking soda, and 1 egg.
  4. Mix well by hand and completely coat the chicken.
  5. Put 6-7 cups of canola oil in a wok or frying pan and heat it up.
  6. After it’s heated for about 7-8 minutes, test if the oil is ready by dipping a sample chunk of chicken into the oil. If the oil bubbles, it’s the right temperature to start frying.

Fry them using the double-frying method:

  1. Fry the chicken chunks for 10 minutes over high heat.
  2. Take them out of the oil and shake them off in a strainer. Let them sit for a few minutes.
  3. Fry them again for another 10 minutes until all pieces look golden brown and are crunchy outside.
    *tip: If your skillet is not large enough to fry all the chicken at once, divide it into batches like I do in the video.

While you are frying, you can make the sauce:

  1. Put 1 tbs canola oil and 4 cloves of minced garlic into a heated pan,
  2. Add ⅓ cup tomato ketchup, ⅓ cup rice syrup, ¼ cup hot pepper paste, 1 tbs apple vinegar and simmer the mixture for about about 7 minutes. Keep your heat low and be sure not to burn the sauce.
  3. Turn off the heat and wait until the chicken is done.

Chicken is done? Then coat your chicken with the sauce:

  1. Reheat the sauce.
  2. Put the freshly fried chicken into the sauce and gently mix it up with a wooden spoon.
  3. Sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds over top and serve hot or warm.

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253 Comments:

  1. jaylivg Houston joined 7/10
    Posted January 31st, 2011 at 4:58 pm | # |

    This was very delicious !! My husband loves it and he said he can eat korean fried chicken everyday ! LOL
    Although i didn’t use potato starch , instead i used corn starch , but it still comes out delicious and crunchy . Thanks Maangchi for another awesome recipe !

  2. philm00x Winter Park, FL joined 1/11
    Posted January 30th, 2011 at 5:54 pm | # |

    My wife and I just tried this at home tonight, and it was AMAZING! Although, we used chili sauce instead of hot pepper paste because we couldn’t find it, but the flavor was just outstanding. Hot enough but not tongue-numbing, and you could still taste the flavor of the spices. We are definitely going to use this recipe more often!

  3. Shimako Romania joined 1/11
    Posted January 30th, 2011 at 5:44 pm | # |

    I’m curious,why does the chicken has to be fried two times?if you fry it once for a longer period of time don’t you get the same result?
    I don’t have much cooking experience so I’m sorry if I asked something obvious ^^

    • Earthangel626 New York joined 11/10
      Posted February 6th, 2011 at 3:23 pm | # |

      Hi! I believe the twice fried method is to guarantee the crunchiness, very much like frying french fries. If you leave it longer, you may just end up with burnt chicken wings. :)

  4. Sandy Bell Jordan joined 12/10
    Posted January 30th, 2011 at 4:32 am | # |

    Maangchi’s chicken looks delicious

  5. Andrea Italy joined 1/09
    Posted January 30th, 2011 at 2:25 am | # |

    Dear Maangchi, sunday morning here, I am sitting here with a cup of coffee, reading the news, then I open your website and see this amazing recipe. Plus at the end of the recipe you greet us in Italian, what do I want more…?
    Kamsahamnida for all your videos, 감사합니다!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted February 16th, 2011 at 10:09 pm | # |

      awesome! Nice meeting you! I love coffee! Sunday morning coffee!

  6. mokpochica Michigan joined 1/09
    Posted January 29th, 2011 at 10:50 pm | # |

    Yay! I sent my husband a link to this recipe last night and to my surprise he called me about an hour later asking “What is rice syrup” because he was already at the Korean store buying the ingredients. He made the recipe last night and it was awesome. We were both happy as clams eating it. I think hubby had been craving this since seeing it advertised at a restaurant during our trip to Chicago on New Year’s Day, so he was especially happy.

    I remember another Chicken place that always makes me laugh—Smoper Chicken. The sign was a green smurf. I remember how funny I thought it was when I finally figured out that Smoper was the Korean way to write Seu-muh-peu, the Korean approximation of Smurf. I have a picture of their storefront somewhere in my albums…

  7. shedorvin KY joined 10/09
    Posted January 29th, 2011 at 5:31 am | # |

    Thank you for posting this recipe. It is one of my favorites from my time in Korea. The restaurants always served this chicken with little cubes of white radish. How do I make that?

  8. JamieF New Zealand joined 1/11
    Posted January 28th, 2011 at 3:10 am | # |

    All done and eaten. Absolutely amazing. This is the best chicken dish I have ever eaten! For those afraid of the hot pepper paste – don’t be – it is actually quite mild. Thanks Maangchi for the best chicken recipe on earth!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted January 29th, 2011 at 11:10 am | # |

      haha oredi made and ate it? Awesome!

  9. Tequila Malaysia joined 7/10
    Posted January 28th, 2011 at 2:42 am | # |

    =O
    Uses corn syrup again! Gotta be extra careful this time. hehe…
    My son loves fried food. Will try this recipe once I manage to get all the ingredients. Thanks for sharing it with us. :D

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted January 29th, 2011 at 11:11 am | # |

      I’m looking forward to your son’s feedback.

  10. JamieF New Zealand joined 1/11
    Posted January 28th, 2011 at 1:55 am | # |

    I am making this right now – so far the recipe is perfect (as are all of the things I have cooked by Maangchi so far). I can’t wait to eat it! The Korean lady at the Korean market laughed when I handed her a shopping list with ingredients in Korean (copied from here) and asked her for help!

  11. garpu Seattle joined 4/09
    Posted January 27th, 2011 at 10:12 pm | # |

    Question about frying chicken from when I made your other recipe…when you’re frying it and it bubbles like it’s frying, but sticks to the bottom, does that mean the oil is too hot? (The chicken bits didn’t stick when I put the first batch in.)

    Can’t wait to try this one!

    • Earthangel626 New York joined 11/10
      Posted February 6th, 2011 at 3:29 pm | # |

      It may be that your oil was not hot enough? Try a frying thermometer… :)

  12. Mikura New Haven, CT joined 6/09
    Posted January 27th, 2011 at 7:22 pm | # |

    You posted this just in time for the upcoming Super Bowl. Now I know what I’m going to make for it….thanks for the recipe!

    • BxlSprout Brussels, Belgium joined 5/10
      Posted January 29th, 2011 at 5:40 am | # |

      What a good idea for the Super Bowl. Here in Belgium I forgot it was that time of year >-<

      • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
        Posted January 29th, 2011 at 11:16 am | # |

        I’m so happy to hear that! I believe food makes us happy especially when we share it with others.

  13. JamieF New Zealand joined 1/11
    Posted January 27th, 2011 at 4:08 pm | # |

    Would it be okay to have this with kimchi and other vegetable sides from your recipes? The chicken looks amazing and I am going to make it tonight. It will be my third recipe of yours which I have cooked – the other two were perfect and everyone loved them! My first time cooking Korean.

    • BxlSprout Brussels, Belgium joined 5/10
      Posted January 29th, 2011 at 5:38 am | # |

      Maangchi has such a talent for de-mystifying Korean food. Thanks to her I eat Korean all week long! Keep exploring her recipes, they are wonderful.

  14. BxlSprout Brussels, Belgium joined 5/10
    Posted January 27th, 2011 at 3:19 pm | # |

    Maangchi’s chicken looks absolutely delicious! I know it would taste wonderful made with vegetarian chick’n or wheat gluten. Mmm! Thanks for perfecting and sharing your recipe.

    • BxlSprouts Brussels, Belgium joined 5/10
      Posted October 9th, 2012 at 9:20 am | # |

      Finally I’ve done it! :) Maangchi and friends, I’ve just put Maangchi’s sauce over a batch of oven-roasted gluten (wheat meat) for an easier and lower-fat method than deep-frying produces. It smells heavenly. Replying now, a little early before trying the finished dish, as my little ones are napping :)

  15. Jenneida Bronx, New York joined 5/09
    Posted January 27th, 2011 at 2:33 pm | # |

    The sauce almost looks like a dipping sauce my boyfriend’s family uses for gyoza but they use Tabasco sauce and no syrup. This looks so good I can see this recipe in my house in the future ^_^ Thank you for the recipe

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