These juicy, boneless chicken thighs are dipped in a light batter to form an extra-crispy crust, then lacquered with a gingery hot pepper paste for a version of classic Korean fried chicken that totally rules the roost. Serve it as a snack on its own, or pair with rice and steamed or roasted vegetables to make it a meal.


  • Vegetable or canola oil (for frying; about 2 quarts)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, quartered


  1. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and place near stove. Set deep-fry thermometer in a heavy wide pot, then pour in oil to a depth of 1 1/2″. Heat over high until thermometer registers 350ºF.
  2. Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until lightly golden, 3–5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool; set aside.
  3. Heat sesame oil in same skillet over medium. Add ginger and scallion whites. Cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are tender, about 1 minute. Whisk in gochujang and brown sugar, bring just to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup water; whisk to combine. Transfer sauce to a large bowl and cover to keep warm; set aside.
  4. Whisk cornstarch, flour, salt, baking powder, and a generous pinch of pepper in another large bowl. Add vodka and 1/2 cup cold water, then whisk until a smooth, loose batter forms. Add chicken and toss to coat.
  5. Using tongs, remove chicken from batter, letting excess drip back into bowl. Transfer to hot oil and cook, working in batches if needed, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon to keep pieces from sticking together, and adjusting heat as needed to maintain 350ºF, until chicken is golden and crispy, 6–8 minutes per batch.
  6. Transfer fried chicken to prepared rack. Add chicken to reserved sauce and carefully toss to coat. Transfer to a serving platter. Top with reserved toasted sesame seeds and scallion greens.


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