Dakgangjeong (Crispy Korean Chicken Nuggets)
Dakgangjeong is a recipe for crispy Korean chicken nuggets glazed with a sticky, tangy, sweet, and spicy sauce. This popular Korean fried chicken has many different versions and this recipe uses chicken thigh pieces with a chili sauce. Your chicken will maintain their crispiness until every last one is gobbled up.
Who wouldn’t enjoy munching on these little crispy Korean chicken nuggets that are sticky, sweet, and tangy? The nice thing about this recipe is that the chicken will stay crisp even after it gets coated with sauce. It has a tiny bit of spiciness due to the Korean chili paste, but not the kind of spicy that kills your senses.
What is dakgangjeong?
Dakgangjeong (닭강정) is a popular Korean chicken dish that is often sold as a Korean street food. Chicken pieces, either bone-in or boneless, are deep-fried twice to ensure their crispiness, then glazed with a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce.
“Dak” mean chicken and “gangjeong” is a type of Korean confectionery that is associated with deep-frying and a sticky glaze.
These crispy Korean chicken nuggets are often confused with another Korean fried chicken called yangnyeom chicken (양념치킨). The main difference is that dakgangjeong uses small chicken pieces while the yangnyeom chicken recipe calls for bone-in fried chicken wings.
My recipe for this delicious Korean chicken is a different take on Korean chicken gangjeong that you will not find elsewhere. I assure you that you will love the crisp texture and the delectable glaze that goes with the chicken.
And the dakgangjeong sauce? There are different versions of dakgangjeong sauce that coat the fried chicken pieces, but well… you’ll have to try my recipe made with chili sauce to decide which one you like better. This Korean chicken recipe will be much tastier than the one sold at your local Bonchon restaurant near you.
Crispy Dakgangjeong Tips
- Cake flour and Cornstarch – The mixture of both flours will form a light, yet almost crunchy coating texture to the chicken. The crispiness will maintain even after the chicken pieces are glazed with sauce.
- Egg White and Oil – Beaten egg white will give the proper amount of moisture to the chicken so that it grabs the coating mixture. A little oil will help chicken pieces not to stick to each other.
- Deep-fry Twice – For any deep fried dishes that need crispiness, you need to deep fry twice or even three times. The reason is that moisture in the deep fried food moves to the surface and the surface gets soggy when the food cools. Then you cook off that moisture again on the second fry.
- Chicken Breast or Thigh? – The answer is… whichever you prefer. I like to use chicken thigh parts for this recipe. The fattiness of chicken thighs maintains moistness better than breast meat.
Ingredients for Korean chicken nuggets
Ingredients for Dakgangjeong sauce recipe: garlic, Korean chili paste (gochujang), Korean chili flakes, chili sauce, chili oil, sugar, ginger puree, rice vinegar, ketchup, Korean rice syrup (or dark corn syrup), rice wine.
How to make Dakgangjeong
Step 1. Dice chicken: Cut chicken thighs into small bite size chunks.
Step 2. 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 3. 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 4. Coat chicken: Put the coating mixture in a zip bag and add the chicken pieces; shake well to coat evenly.
Step 5. 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 6. 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 7. 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 8. Thicken the glaze: Bring the sauce to boil over medium high heat until it thickens to a glaze consistency, stirring constantly.
Step 9. Toss with chicken: Add chicken pieces and toss well to coat with the glaze.
Dakgangjeong is often garnished with chopped roasted peanuts. With any deep-fried food, it is best served when 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.
Korean Chicken Nuggets Recipe Video
Dakgangjeong (Crispy 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.