This insanely tasty spicy Korean chicken sandwich combines spicy deep-fried chicken breasts, seasoned flour, a pickled slaw, and a unique sweet & spicy Korean chili sauce. This sandwich is always a hit! Don’t be afraid of using lard for the frying. It’s not the same without it!
If you don’t have a deep fryer, a dutch oven does the job just as well. I use this Lodge dutch oven. Just be sure to use a deep-fry (or candy) thermometer to ensure the breaded chicken is cooked at the optimum temperature, between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If the oil is too hot, the breading may burn. If the oil is too cool, the chicken absorbs more of the oil, loses flavor and texture and becomes soggy. We definitely want a crispy chicken sandwich here.
Preparing the Slaw
The first step is to prepare the slaw. The slaw is best when marinated overnight, but a few hours works in a pinch. Bean sprouts are optional for the slaw if your local grocer carries them.
The slaw veggies consist of 1/2 head napa cabbage, sliced into thin strips, 1 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup red bell pepper julienned, 1/2 cup diakon radish julienned, and 1/2 cup bean sprouts (optional).
So what is diakon? Originally native to Southeast or continental East Asia, diakon (literally “big root”) is a mild-flavored winter radish. Even if you don’t like radishes, the flavor of Diakon is not as in your face. I’m not much of a fan of radishes, but I like diakon.
Once prepared, place all the slaw veggies into a large bowl. Next we need to make the slaw pickling liquid. In a saucepan combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 cups red wine vinegar, 2 cups white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon of celery seeds, 1/2 tablespoon of mustard seeds, 3 bay leaves and 5 dried Chile de Arbol pods.
Bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer onto the slaw. Stir, cover and refrigerate the slaw overnight (or at least 4 hours).
Preparing the Sauce
Once the chicken is fried, it will be immediately dipped into a sweet and spicy Gochujang based sauce, which we’ll prepare next.
So what is Gochujang?
Gochujang is a red chili paste from Korea. It is a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment made from chile powder, glutinous rice, meju (fermented soybean) powder, yeotgireum (barley malt powder), and salt. The sweetness comes from the starch of cooked glutinous rice. “Garlicky. Spicy. Fermented. Thick. Savory. Funky. Sweet. Umami.” These are a few of the adjectives its legions of fans use to describe gochujang.
If you go to a Korean market for your ingredients you’ll have a much larger selection of Gochujang. Amazon also carries it. If you have several to choose from, there may be varying heat levels, from extra hot to mild. Pick the spice level that best suits you. If your lucky enough to have a local Korean market nearby, you’ll have many to choose from. I was in awe when I turned down this isle and saw this many gochujang options. 😮 Most chain grocery stores usually carry at least a couple Gochujang options, but may only offer one spice level or one brand.
This sauce is fairly easy to prepare. Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Once the sugar dissolves, lower the heat and add in all the remaining sauce ingredients; 3/4 cup Gochujang paste, 2 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon black & white sesame seeds. If you can’t find black and white sesame seeds, white alone are just fine. The black and white seeds just make it look a bit fancier.
Simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, turn off heat but leave your pot on the burner. You will be coating the cooked chicken pieces with the sauce in this pot.
Prepare the chicken breasts
Butterfly the chicken breasts AND cut them entirely in half. Here’s a short video showing how to butterfly chicken if needed.
Prepare the chicken breading ingredients
For the breading, the chicken will be dipped into a wet batter first, and then into a dry seasoned flour. To create the wet batter combine 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon corn starch and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl. Slowly add 1 cup water and whisk until batter is smooth.
For the dry seasoned flour, in a large bowl combine 3 cups flour, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Dip chicken into the wet batter, allow excess to drip off. Dredge in the the dry seasoned flour.
Drop 2-3 chicken pieces into the heated oil. Don’t overload the oil with too many pieces. This will drop the temperature too much. Let the chicken fry until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (approximately six to eight minutes). Once the chicken is done, toss them into the sweet & spicy sauce. Give them a good coating.
Build the Sandwich
Mayo both top and bottom of the toasted buns. Place some of the pickled veggies on the bottom of your toasted bun. Place your fried & coated chicken on top of that. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. Pop the top on and enjoy!
Spicy Fried Korean Chicken Sandwich
- 6 large chicken breasts butterflied and cut entirely in half
- 12 Kaiser or Brioche buns toasted
- 2-3 lb Lard I prefer Premium Farmer John
- Mayo for the buns
- 2-3 scallions (green onions) sliced
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- Pinch of Salt
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1/2 head napa cabbage, sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper julienned
- 1/2 cup diakon radish julienned
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts optional
Slaw Pickling Liquid
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups red wine vinegar
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns whole
- 1 tablespoon celery seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 dried Chile de Arbol pods
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup Gochujang paste
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon black & white sesame seeds
Once julienned & chopped, combine all your slaw ingredients into a large glass bowl, preferably one with a lid, since it will need to marinate in the fridge overnight (or at least 4 hours).
Slaw Pickling Liquid
In a pot combine all the Slaw Pickling Liquid ingredients.
Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
Strain the liquid through a sieve onto the slaw.
Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 4 hours).
THE AMAZING SAUCE
Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a pot.
Bring to a boil.
Once the sugar dissolves, lower the heat and add in all the remaining sauce ingredients.
Simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
After 15 minutes, turn off heat but leave your pot on the burner. You will be coating the cooked chicken pieces with the sauce in this pot.
COOKING THE CHICKEN
Place the lard in your dutch oven.
You can fry on your stove top, or outside on the side burner of your grill (outside is less mess).
Bring the lard up to between 350 and 400 degrees.
Butterfly the chicken breasts AND cut them entirely in half.
Combine 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon corn starch and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl.
Slowly add 1 cup water and beat until batter is smooth.
Combine all Seasoned Flour ingredients into a separate bowl.
Dip chicken into the wet batter, allow excess to drip off.
Dredge in the the dry seasoned flour.
Drop 2-3 chicken pieces into the heated oil.
Don't overload the oil with too many pieces. This will drop the temperature too much.
Let the chicken fry for approximately six to eight minutes, depending on size.
Before removing the chicken, use a thermometer to check that the internal temperature is at least 165° Fahrenheit (75° Celsius).
Once the chicken is done, toss them into the sweet & spicy sauce. Give them a good coating.
BUILD YOUR SANDWICH
Mayo both top and bottom bun.
Place some of the pickled veggies on the bottom of your toasted bun.
Place your fried & coated chicken on top of that.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
Pop the top on and enjoy!
If you make this, be sure to share it with all the fans!
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