Momofuku fried chicken is chef David Chang’s approach in which you steam chicken before frying it and then you douse it in a Korean-inspired vinaigrette. It’s unfailingly crisp-skinned on the outside and tender within. Genius as well as gluten-free.
WHY STEAM CHICKEN BEFORE COOKING IT?
The secret to David Chang’s intensely crisp and flavorful chicken is the fact that he steams it before he fries it. This might seem a little counter-intuitive, right? Doesn’t steam make things soggy? Well, sure. But it also helps to render some of the fat before the meat even gets into the hot fat, making that skin so, so crisp.
You may have used the technique of letting your chicken skin dry out in the fridge overnight–this does the same thing but steaming is just that much faster.
Momofuku's Fried Chicken
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H, 35 M
- Serves 2 to 4
Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
Combine the water, sugar, and salt in a large container with a lid or a large freezer bag and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pat the chicken dry. Add the chicken pieces to the brine, cover or seal, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and no more than 6 hours.
Set up a steamer on the stove. Drain the chicken and discard the brine. Put the chicken in the steamer basket (if you are using a stacking Chinese-style bamboo steamer, put the legs in the bottom level and the breast on the top). Turn the heat to medium and set the lid of the steamer ever so slightly ajar. Steam the chicken for 40 minutes, then remove it from the steamer and place it on a cooling rack to cool. Then put the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered and preferably still on the cooling rack, for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you fry it.
Pour enough oil for the chicken to be submerged into a deep skillet. Heat it to 350°F (175°C). Fry the chicken in batches, turning once, until the skin is deep brown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate or a cut up brown paper bag to drain.
If you haven’t already, cut the wing from the breast, cut the breast in half, and cut through the “knee” to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Place the chicken in a large bowl, toss with the vinaigrette, and serve hot. Originally published June 26, 2011.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
As touted, this is not your traditional fried chicken; yet, this recipe serves up the same salty, savory satisfaction of biting into the warm, juicy, crispy chicken. I can only imagine now how divine it would be in the restaurant. The Octo Vinaigrette is a hauntingly familiar concoction that makes you ask yourself “How come I never put vinegar on fried chicken before?” Serve this version of fried chicken to your friends and you’re a superstar.
Oh, and did I mention it was ridiculously easy? I would stick with Chang’s direction to cut the chicken into four pieces. I broke the meat down into the traditional eight and found the chicken shrunk quite a bit when steamed. I think keeping the pieces intact minimizes the shrinkage. The Octo Vin softens the crisp skin anyway. I used a stainless steel steamer basket in a pot and that worked just fine. I served it with Sriracha hot sauce which put it over the top.
I debated marking this as a TC since there are quite a few steps and waiting periods in making this recipe but my family agreed that if I made this again they’d happily devour the results. We all decided it’s worth the extra effort to make this dish. We also all agreed the Octo Vinaigrette would be great on almost anything. My daughter put some on corn we had and declared it very tasty.
I couldn’t find a bird’s eye chile at the two stores I visited and my daughter went to three more also with no luck so we substituted a serrano chile. I got the smallest whole chicken our market had and it was about 5 pounds instead of the 3 to 3 1/2 pound size suggested by this recipe. I opted to cut mine in 8 pieces instead of 4 and steamed in my Chinese bamboo steamer for the suggested 40 minutes since I had a bit more weight than called for. I also fried in two batches for 8 minutes and it was perfect — moist, juicy, a bit spicy but delicious.
Love the Asian flavors but didn’t care much for the skin since after tossing with the vinaigrette as the skin lost its crispness.