Saturday, September 11, 2010

red red wings

Depending on how many cop shows take place where you live, you've either had (3 or more cop shows) or will have in the next few years (0-2 cop shows) Korean fried chicken.  The way Korean fried chicken is made, it's lightly floured and fried twice, and then sauced.  Double-frying - the same technique, minus the flouring of course, that you should use for French fries - results in a crispier final product that is more likely to stay crispy even when it's not piping hot, and furthermore is better able to stay crispy when moist.

The combination of the super-crispy chicken with sauce creates a texture you're familiar with from Chinese joints - not the ones that put the thick batter on everything they fry so that the sweet and sour shrimp is like big sponges soaking in sauce (goddamn you, food court), but places like P.F. Chang's that lightly batter and fry chunks of chicken before saucing them.  Same basic deal.  In Korea, whole chickens are chopped up into chunks and fried - but Korean chickens aren't factory-farmed like in the US of A, so they're smaller and better suited to, well, cooking and eating.  In the US, chicken parts make more sense, and those factory farms result in large, meaty wings, a chicken part that was usually discarded or used for stock until World War II.

Really, despite the transglutaminase and calcium alginate, despite the bacon beignets and coconut curry ice cream, what I think about the most, what I always circle around, is hamburgers, pizza, chicken wings, fruit, and cheese.  That's always been my way.  I'm not an embryonic pseudo-chef, I'm just a home cook who plays around with a few things.  At some point I expect I'll have a long entry on hot wings.

But right now, since I have this deep fryer, I wanted to try the Korean fried chicken method.  Specifically the method - Korean fried chicken is usually sauced with a gojujang sauce, which is cool, but I wanted to divorce the method from the flavor here.  I wanted to deal with the method on its own.

So I made red wings.

Hibiscus-marinated wings

I started by "brining" the wings overnight with hibiscus.  I literally did nothing more than put chicken wings in a Tupperware container with a handful of hibiscus flowers, and cover it all with water.  The splotches you see are where the wings were touching each other or the sides of the container.  The color is otherwise quite magenta.

Hibiscus-marinated wings, first fry

The wings after their first fry.  They have more color than it looks here; this time of year I don't have much sunlight in the house until much later in the day (it's 1pm as I type this and the sun hasn't hit my deck yet).  That said, in the end the hibiscus didn't contribute anything of note.

Hibiscus-marinated wings, double-fried and sauced

The wings after their second fry, with sauce.

The sauce is very very red.  I pureed watermelon chunks with watermelon rind that had been pickled with Kool Aid; strained that, and cooked it down until it was a thick sauce; strained that, and added Tabasco sauce, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon.  The result is a bright red sweet and sour sauce with a burn that is primarily ginger with other spice notes and a little chile heat.

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