KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN (yang-nyum tong dak, for four)
3 quarts vegetable oil
1-½ cups cornstarch
3-½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs)
salt and pepper
1 cup water
sweet soy-garlic sauce (recipe follows)
2 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200*. Measure 2 inches of oil into a large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat to 350*. (Use an instant-read thermometer that registers high temperatures or a candy/deep-fat thermometer.) Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with wire racks; set aside.
2. Sift ½ cup of the cornstarch into a wide, shallow dish. Set a large mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with several pieces of chicken at a time, coat the chicken thoroughly with the cornstarch, then transfer to the strainer and shake vigorously to remove all but a thin coating of cornstarch. Transfer the chicken to one of the wire racks.
3. Whisk the remaining cup cornstarch, water and 1 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl to form a smooth batter. When the oil is hot, finish coating the chicken by adding half of the chicken to the batter and turning to coat. Using tongs, remove the chicken from the batter, 1 piece at a time, allowing any excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Add to the hot oil.
4. Fry the chicken, stirring to prevent the pieces from sticking together and adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain an oil temperature of 350*, until the chicken begins to crisp, turns slightly golden and registers about 90* on the thermometer, about 5 minutes. Transfer the fried chicken to the second prepared wire rack and set aside for 5 to 6 minutes. Batter and fry the remaining chicken during this time.
5. Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels and return the oil to 350* over medium-high heat. Return the first batch of fried chicken to the oil and continue to fry until the exterior is very crisp and deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the chicken registers about 160* for breasts or 175* for thighs or drumsticks, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the second batch; let the second batch drain for about 1 minute.
6. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl, drizzle with the sauce and gently toss until evenly coated. Transfer the chicken to a platter, sprinkle with the scallions and cilantro and serve.
SWEET SOY GARLIC SAUCE (about 2/3 cup)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Thai chili-garlic sauce
1. Simmer all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before serving.