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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.