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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248 Comments:

  1. skruzich kansas joined 5/16
    Posted May 18th, 2016 at 2:46 pm | # |

    Made it for the first time today, i wasn’t about to pay 12 bucks for a pound of rice flour, so i got me a bag of 2.00 rice and ground up the kernels into flour. Worked just fine.

    I did not complete the whole batch since i am teh only one in my house and i’m not going to even try to eat 3 lbs of chicken. I used chicken breasts cut into cubes of various sizes.

    Fried up good first round about 5 min to fry since my chicken was smaller pieces.
    Then i made up the sauce and then refried enough for me to eat until golden.
    Was pretty crispy.

    Sauce is too sweet for me. First of all, not good for that much sugar in my diet as i am diabetic. Going to have to modify sauce to less sugar. PLUS It just is too sweet for my tastes. I’m from Georgia and southern barbq down there is mustard based sauces when we grill and make pork barbq. I Think instead of rice syrup, i’ll be using mustard. Probably use mustard powder and mix it up into a hot mustard and add that instead of the rice syrup.
    I think if i do use any sweetener, i would use blackstrap molasses. Guess i’m going to hvae to get creative here.

    I Won’t pay as much for potato starch as i did the other day, its obscene how much they charge. I’ll just be making my own starch from shredding potatos for hasbrowns and drying the starch that settles at the bottom of the bowl. Get dual use of potatos that way and produce a needed ingredient for basically no cost since i usually just throw starch water away.

    • skruzich kansas joined 5/16
      Posted May 18th, 2016 at 2:48 pm | # |

      Ohh btw i forgot to say i refridgerated the half fried chicken, to which when I want some more i’ll just second fry the chicken again and then mix sauce. it should fry up very crispy still even though its been in the fridge. Good way to freeze up a large batch and then portion out to individual sizes and drop into a fryer and finish it up. good for a quick meal

  2. Sunghwa Little Rock, AR, USA joined 5/16
    Posted May 10th, 2016 at 2:53 pm | # |

    Hello, Maangchi!

    I tried this recipe yesterday, as part of a (late) Mother’s Day/Parents’ Day dinner. I was really nervous because I am an amateur at cooking, and my mom has been cooking all kinds of food for a long time, especially Korean food. I only put the sauce on half the batch (and saved the leftover) because I was hesitant. But it turned out she loved it! She was very impressed with the sauce, and when I told her that ssalyeot was part of the recipe, she was very surprised! She said it was the best chicken she’s tasted so far–very crunchy and savory–and that I could go ahead and put the sauce on the rest of the chicken.

    Thank you so much!! I’m glad I was able to treat her with this delicious recipe! :)

  3. Sam.C UK joined 4/16
    Posted April 16th, 2016 at 7:14 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi!

    I just made this today using chicken wings. I used a deep fat fryer which is even smaller than your skillet so had to do it in 4 batches!

    Taste was yummy and so sticky! Although using wings means you need a bit more sauce I seasoned the plain ones with aromat and smoked paprika but I’ve yet to try them :)

    Thanks for the great recipe!


    See full size image

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted April 24th, 2016 at 9:24 pm | # |

      Thank you for sharing your yummy and sticky chicken photo! I feel like some now! : )

  4. Fany joined 12/15
    Posted February 11th, 2016 at 5:02 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi, Here, where I live I can’t find sweet rice flour, what should I use instead? A regular rice flour or something else?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted February 11th, 2016 at 5:03 pm | # |

      Skip sweet rice flour and add more potato starch. Good luck!

  5. Katzen125 Gulf Shores joined 9/14
    Posted July 19th, 2015 at 4:45 pm | # |

    Hello Maangchi,

    I’m planning on making yangnyeom-tongdak for dinner one night and was wondering what are some good side dishes to make with it?

    Thank you for your tasty recipes and fun videos!

  6. Pluto Malaysia joined 1/15
    Posted July 10th, 2015 at 6:58 am | # |

    I’ve just started learn cooking. And I’m so excited
    excited. Today is my 1st attempt at deep fried dish. I used only 1 pound of chicken drumstick. The coating was quite watery maybe because of large egg. To correct it I measure another batch of each flour and add in again. The final result was fantastic, for someone who just learn to cook. Even I have coughed now yet I can’t resist to try one. Thanks Maangchi! For u are the one who started my cooking passion


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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 12th, 2015 at 11:36 am | # |

      Your chicken looks crunchy and juicy! Congratulations!

  7. bunraf joined 6/15
    Posted June 9th, 2015 at 11:27 pm | # |

    I preferred honey to rice syrup.. and it tasted good too.. But I thought I use too many sauce to the chicken..


    See full size image

  8. RVD Woodinville, WA joined 1/14
    Posted May 30th, 2015 at 11:36 pm | # |

    I made this today! It was delicious!!!


    See full size image

  9. harpalyce New Jersey joined 3/15
    Posted March 14th, 2015 at 10:51 pm | # |

    Maangchi! I’ve never been much for spicy foods and to be honest, watching your videos and seeing the love you have for cooking and for sharing your food with the world made me want to leap out of my comfort zone of savory & mild, into your world of beautiful bright red spiciness!
    Tonight I took the leap and made this recipe (minus the frying) and I just had to tell you how much I LOVED it! The sauce is simply amazing and I honestly, can’t get enough (I jarred the left overs for later). I didn’t have enough corn syrup or honey though, so I used a half and half mix of the two to make the 1/3 cup. You have inspired me to take off from baby steps to a full run, and I have never been more delighted to have found your website and youtube. I fully intend on purchasing your cook book as I can not see my kitchen existing with out it. Much love and gratitude from NJ!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 17th, 2015 at 9:16 am | # |

      I’m glad you liked this sauce that made you get out of your comfort zone!

  10. kmom Los Angeles joined 1/15
    Posted January 28th, 2015 at 11:46 pm | # |

    I can see why this was your most popular dish. I made it recently and it was fantastic. I used bite size pieces of chicken tenderloin coated in cornstarch sautéed in vegetable oil. The sauce was so easy to make yet extremely flavorful. Thank You Maangchi!

  11. Karina777 Almaty, Kazakhstan joined 11/14
    Posted November 10th, 2014 at 11:24 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi! (^___^)/ You help me a lot. First, I’m 14 years old and I learn to cook. I’m from Kazakhstan and I learn English. You help me to cook tasty dishes and I can understand English at the hearing, thanks to you)) My Mom wants to thank you^^ Your recipes are amazing (⌒‿⌒) We cook Korean dishes and they’re so good)) We eat them with pleasure ( ˘▽˘)っ♨ Thank you a lot!!! ヽ(o^―^o)ノ

  12. Neal0707 Manila joined 10/14
    Posted October 30th, 2014 at 1:16 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi!

    I have been searching this website to master the korean cuisine and this is the first time I post my comment. My relatives love my korean fried chicken. And also I made this for the bible study event and they said it’s very crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

    Thank you!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted October 30th, 2014 at 8:26 pm | # |

      It sounds like you make super delicious chicken! “I made this for the bible study event ..” That’s a really great idea. Everybody will be so inspired by the chicken they will study the bible even harder. : )

  13. Dana Adelaide, Australia joined 7/14
    Posted July 11th, 2014 at 11:13 am | # |

    I’m allergic to tomato so i can’t have tomato sauce/ketchup is there any recommendations for a substitute or do you have to use tomato sauce/ketchup?

  14. EmBinKay doha - Qatar joined 6/14
    Posted June 21st, 2014 at 11:12 am | # |

    Rice syrup instead of what we put in the mix ☺

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 25th, 2014 at 9:37 am | # |

      You can use corn syrup, honey, or sugar.

  15. Triple C Iowa joined 4/14
    Posted April 20th, 2014 at 8:38 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi! Thank you for the recipe. I made it for my family’s Easter picnic today and they loved it! I only changed two things: 1. Instead of using chicken chunks with bones, I used only breast meat cut up into bite sized pieces. 2. I brined the breast meat in salt, sugar, and worcestire sauce to keep it from drying out after cooking it in such high heat. Also, instead of coating the chicken with the sauce, I took a separate bowl for dipping so the outside would stay crisp until picnic time.

    Again, thank you very much for the wonderful recipe. I can’t wait to try more! Take care pretty cooking lady!

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted April 22nd, 2014 at 12:58 pm | # |

      Thank you for sharing your modification idea! It sounds great and healthy.

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