Dakgangjeong (Korean Chicken Nuggets)
Dakgangjeong is a crispy Korean chicken nugget snack made from bite-sized, boneless chicken thigh pieces. These are coated in a sweet, slightly spicy, and sticky glaze. It’s quick to cook, making it an ideal snack or party food.
The irresistible combination of sweet, tangy, and crispy flavors make these Korean crispy chicken nuggets a must-try.
The great thing about this recipe is that it maintains the crispiness of the chicken even after it is coated with the delicious sauce. The sauce features gochujang (Korean chili paste), which adds a mild spiciness to the dish without overpowering it.
What is dakgangjeong?
Dakgangjeong is a crispy Korean chicken snack where chicken pieces are double-fried for extra crunch and then coated in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce. “Dak” means chicken, and “gangjeong” refers to a Korean sweet treat famous for its sticky glaze.
People often mix up with yangnyeom chicken, another Korean fried chicken dish that uses whole wings. Dakgangjeong uses smaller pieces and has its own unique flavors and cooking style.
In my recipe, I make dakgangjeong extra crispy with a delicious glaze you’ll love. Plus, my chili sauce version is a must-try.
For more Korean recipes, my cookbook, “Korean Cooking Favorites,” includes various dishes, including another tasty dakgangjeong sauce.
To experience a different texture and flavor, give my Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken a try. This chicken snack recipe is inspired by the flavors of Taiwanese night markets.
The sauce for dakganjeong is crucial in providing the dish with its distinctive sweet and spicy flavor that sets it apart from other chicken dishes. If you have a well stocked Korean pantry, it is easy to create the sticky delicious sauce in no time.
- Garlic: Adds a pungent flavor and aroma to the sauce.
- Korean chili paste (gochujang): A staple in Korean cuisine, this spicy and savory paste is made from red chili powder, fermented soybeans, and glutinous rice.
- Korean chili flakes, chili sauce, and chili oil: Provide additional heat and spiciness to the dish.
- Sugar: Balances out the spiciness with a touch of sweetness.
- Ginger paste: Adds a fresh and slightly spicy flavor to the sauce.
- Rice vinegar: Provides a tangy and slightly sweet taste to the sauce.
- Ketchup: Adds a sweet and tangy flavor to the sauce.
- Korean rice syrup (or dark corn syrup): Helps to thicken the sauce and adds a sweet and sticky texture.
- Rice wine: Adds depth of flavor to the sauce and enhances the overall taste of the dish.
- Use a mixture of cake flour and cornstarch for the coating: This creates a light and almost crunchy texture that remains crispy even after coating with sauce.
- Beat egg whites and add a little oil to the mixture: It gives the chicken the right amount of moisture and prevent the pieces from sticking together.
- Double-fry the chicken for ultimate crispiness: This is because moisture moves to the surface during the first fry, causing it to become soggy when it cools. The second fry removes this moisture, resulting in a crispier texture.
- Work in batches: If you put too much in the pot at once, the oil gets cooler and the chicken won’t cook right. Make sure the chicken pieces are in one layer and not on top of each other. Keep the oil’s heat steady at 350°F.
- Choose chicken breast or thigh based on your preference: Chicken thighs tend to be more moist due to their higher fat content.
How to make Dakgangjeong
Step 1. Mix chicken coating
For the coating mixture, combine cake flour, cornstarch, onion powder, and salt; mix well. Take away 2 tablespoons from the mixture.
Step 2. Season chicken pieces
Put chicken pieces in a mixing bowl. Add the 2 tablespoon of coating mixture to the chicken along with ginger, salt, pepper, beaten egg white, rice wine, and oil. Mix them all together.
Step 3. Coat chicken
Put the coating mixture in a zip bag and add the chicken pieces; shake well to coat evenly.
Step 4. Fry chicken pieces
Deep-fry chicken in small batches, about 2-3 minutes, until they are lightly golden. As you frying chicken, stir them with metal tongs or a strainer to keep them from sticking to each other. Shake off excess oil as you take the chicken pieces out of the oil.
Step 5. Deep-fry twice
After the first frying is over, do the second frying until they get deep golden brown; about 2 minutes. Keep them on a wired rack to prevent them from getting soggy.
Step 6. Mix dakgangjeong glaze
Meanwhile, combine chili sauce, Korean chili paste, ketchup, Korean rice syrup, sugar, garlic, rice vinegar, and rice wine in a skillet.
Korean Rice Syrup (jocheong, 조청): It’s a natural sweetener extracted from rice into a liquid form. It is also known as a malt syrup. It adds a subtle sweetness and shine–literally–to the dish. Korean rice syrup has a darker shade than Korean corn syrup (mulyeot). If unavailable, you can use dark corn syrup as a substitute.
Step 7. Thicken the glaze
Bring the sauce to boil over medium high heat until it thickens to a glaze consistency, stirring constantly.
Step 8. Toss with chicken
Add chicken pieces and toss well to coat with the glaze.
Chopped roasted peanuts are a favorite choice for garnishing Dakgangjeong. Like with any deep-fried food, it is best to serve it while hot. However, this recipe will retain its crispness even when it cools down. Serve dakganjeong on the day you made.
Unfortunately, the leftover is not as good. However, you can reheat these little nuggets in the microwave if you wish.
Watch Dakgangjeong Recipe Video
Dakgangjeong (Korean Chicken Nuggets)
- 2 lb chicken thighs, diced into bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup finely chopped peanut, optional
- oil, for deep-frying
For chicken coating
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
For chicken seasoning
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp sweet rice wine (mirim)
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1 tbsp oil
To make the chicken coating
- Mix all the ingredients well. Reserve 2 tablespoon of the mixture on the side. Put the rest of coating mixture in a zip bag and set aside.
To season the chicken
- Put chicken in a large mixing bowl, add reserved 2 tablespoon of chicken coating, ginger, salt, pepper, rice wine, egg white, and oil. Mix with your hand to coat evenly.
- Heat oil to 340˚F. Add chicken into the coating mixture in a zip bag; shake well to coat evenly. Shake off the excess coating from chicken pieces.
- Deep-fry chicken in small batches, about 2-3 minutes, until they are lightly golden. As you deep-fry, stir them with metal tongs or a wire skimmer to keep them from sticking to each other. Shake off excess oil as you take the chicken pieces out of the oil.
- After the first frying is over, do the second frying until they get deep golden brown; about 2 minutes. Keep them on a wired rack to prevent them from getting soggy.
To make dakgangjeong sauce
- Combine chili sauce, Korean chili paste, ketchup, Korean rice syrup, sugar, garlic, chili oil, rice vinegar, and rice wine in a skillet.
- Bring the sauce to boil over medium high heat until it thickens to a glaze consistency, stirring constantly.
- Add chicken and toss well to coat with the glaze. To garnish, sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve hot.