Like lots of folks, I’m crazy about Buffalo wings. But when it comes to my absolute favorite preparation, there’s nothing like Korean-style chicken wings. They’re crunchy, moist, covered in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce, and go perfectly well with an ice-cold glass of light beer. This dish is called dakgangjeong, and though it can be made with whole chicken, the wing-only version is proper finger food. The best finger food there is.
One key characteristic of these wings is that they stay crunchy for hours, even when they’re cold. It sounds impossible, but try storing some overnight in your refrigerator and eating them for breakfast the next day (hey, there are no rules). If they were prepared properly, the breading will still be crisp, despite the fact that the wings have been soaking in sauce the entire time. It almost seems like a culinary impossibility.
The reason they remain so crunchy is that they’re breaded in potato or corn starch, then fried twice, each time at different temperatures. The starch turns into a thin layer of crisp armor while the double-fry process keeps the meat moist and tender.
And then, of course, there’s the sauce. It’s sweet and spicy and will leave your fingers covered in an irresistible syrupy mess. (That beer glass you’re nursing is going to have delicious thumbprints all over it.) This sauce is typically made of a sweet, garlicky soy base with fermented red pepper paste; ginger is a common component too.
Pair this sauce with the stay-crisp frying technique and you’ve got a stunner of a chicken wing. Because the sauce is so sticky, it clings to each wing without dribbling off, which means every bite is evenly seasoned and maximally flavorful.
You can order these wings at some Korean restaurants, in case the idea of deep-frying them on your own doesn’t thrill you. Bonchon is a Korean chicken wing chain that specializes in them; the restaurant originally opened in South Korea but is now popular across the United States. Korean bars sometimes specialize in these types of wings, though many of them also specialize in other mind-boggling varieties of Korean fried chicken as well. Other variations include a Korean-Chinese lollipop wing that’s super fun to eat called gamponggi, which, as WBEZ explains, was invented in Chicago.
I can’t recommend dakgangjeong enough. This is a dish certainly worth going out of your way to get, after which you’ll want to get them again and again. But remember to bring a couple of Wet-Naps for later, because you’ll definitely need them.