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Korean Style Popcorn Chicken

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Are you ready to indulge yourself in this crunchy and sticky Korean style popcorn chicken? 

Korean style popcorn chicken (Dakgangjeong, 닭강정) is a popular Korean street snack in Korea. The boneless chicken nugget is deep fried and coated with Korea’s special sticky, spicy, tangy and sweet sauce.

crunchy and sticky Korean style popcorn chicken | MyKoreanKitchen.com

I know it’s a mouthful to describe but because of these reasons, I think it’s totally worth making it! 😉 It’s crunchy and moreish and perfect as a party appetiser.

I used to eat it a lot after school on my way home. The street vendor I used to go to served it in a paper cup and they gave me a toothpick to eat it with, so it was very easy and convenient to eat while walking home.

I don’t know who invented this Korean style popcorn chicken and when, but I want to say to whoever you are, it’s BRILLIANT!

Korean style popcorn chicken . It's crunchy and sticky deliciousness! | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean Style Popcorn Chicken (Dakgangjeong, 닭강정) vs. Korean Fried Chicken (Yangnyeom Tongdak, 양념통닭)

You might be wondering what’s the difference between Korean style popcorn chicken and Korean Fried Chicken? Frankly, I don’t think there’s much difference. In fact, some Koreans use these two names interchangeably.

However, as the name suggests, the popcorn chicken is bite-sized fried chicken and is typically made with boneless chicken fillets. (I prefer thigh over breast as it’s more moist.)

On the other hand, Korean fried chicken is typically made with larger chunks of  any chicken cuts. It usually includes bone-in chicken but you can also make them with boneless chicken as well.

Also, I find that Korean style popcorn chicken are more tender and sweeter, less spicy and less garlicky.

Korean style popcorn chicken. It's a crunchy and sticky bite-sized chicken coated with delicious Korean sauce! | MyKoreanKitchen.com

However, all these facts will be dependent on the cook’s choice in ingredients.  Therefore, these two may result in the same outcome depending on who’s cooking it and how. 😉

I personally prefer Korean style popcorn chicken over typical Korean fried chicken because it’s easier and more neat to eat than typical Korean fried chicken.

Anyway, I hope you show some Korean fried chicken love this weekend! I’m sure your family and friends will appreciate this!

P.S. Here’s my Korean Fried Chicken recipe if you’d like to try it as well!

Korean style popcorn chicken | MyKoreanKitchen.com
Ingredients for Korean Popcorn Chicken (2 to 3 servings)

Main

  • 500g/18 ounces chicken thigh fillets (or breast fillets), rinsed under cold water, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 150g/5.3 ounces fresh Korean rice cake, cut in half (if you’re not using fresh rice cakes, separate and soak them in warm water for 10 mins before cutting. Pat dry with some kitchen paper.)
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup potato starch or corn starch
  • Some cooking oil for deep frying (I used rice bran oil)

Sauce (mix these in a bowl)

  • 5 Tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic

Optional – to garnish

  • Crushed nuts or seeds (e.g. walnut, peanut, pistachio, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, etc.)
  • Finely chopped green onion – if you want the nice colour contrast

*1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml

**If you want to learn more about Korean ingredients, check my 30 essential Korean cooking ingredients list!

How to Make Korean Style Popcorn Chicken

1.Place chicken pieces into a large mixing bowl. Add the rice wine, ginger powder, salt, and ground black pepper and mix them well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the chicken for 30 mins in the fridge.

Korean style popcorn chicken - getting ready chicken

 

2. Coat each chicken piece with the starch powder thoroughly. (It’s best doing this in 4 to 5 batches so that they are well covered with the starch powder.)

Korean style popcorn chicken battered

3. Pour some cooking oil into a deep saucepan/wok and heat until it reaches 175 C/ 347 F (or boiling).

Deep fry the rice cakes in batches until the outer layer turns crispy (under 30 seconds to avoid possible rice cake explosion). Take them out and set aside onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Repeat this with the remaining rice cakes.

Deep fry the battered chicken pieces in batches until golden and cooked through (2 to 3 mins). Take them out and set aside onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Repeat this with the remaining chicken. (Don’t put too much chicken in one go as it can lower the oil temperature too much.) To make the chicken extra crunchy, double fry them one more time. Set aside.

Korean style popcorn chicken deep frying

4. Pour the sauce into a heated skillet. Bring it to boil on medium heat until the sauce thickens a little bit (1 to 2 mins). Stir constantly. Add the double fried chicken and coat with the sauce quickly and thoroughly. Garnish with your choice of toppings (e.g. crushed nuts, seeds and green onion). Serve.

Korean style popcorn chicken mixing with the sauce

Korean style popcorn chicken garnished with sesame seeds and green onions

Note

  • If you can’t find the Korean rice cakes, it’s OK to leave these out. I included them here because that’s how a Korean street food stall or a restaurant serves these popcorn chicken. If you’re leaving these rice cakes out, maybe add more chicken to match up with the sauce quantity.
  • It tastes best when served immediately after cooking. (The crunchiness of chicken is at its peak then.) However, it can be served cold as well. Any leftover meat can be refrigerated in an airtight container for the next day. It might not be as crispy as the first day but it still tastes really good!
  • For a little bit of variety, you can set aside some un-sauced double fried popcorn chicken and serve them like that. As the chicken is marinated with ginger powder, salt and black pepper during the initial process, it has a really nice taste on its own. People who can’t eat spicy food really appreciate this!


crunchy and sticky Korean style popcorn chicken | MyKoreanKitchen.com

Korean Style Popcorn Chicken

Korean style popcorn chicken recipe. It's a type of Korean fried chicken! It's crunchy and coated with sticky, sweet, tangy and spicy sauce! A perfect crowd pleaser!
5 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Korean
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 3
Calories: 758kcal
Author: Sue | My Korean Kitchen

Ingredients

MAIN

  • 500 g chicken thigh fillets (18 ounces), rinsed under cold water, cut into bite sized pieces, or breast fillets
  • 150 g fresh Korean rice cake (5.3 ounces), cut in half (if you’re not using fresh rice cakes, separate and soak them in warm water for 10 mins before cutting. Pat dry with some kitchen paper.)
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup potato starch or corn starch
  • Some cooking oil , I used rice bran oil

SAUCE (MIX THESE IN A BOWL)

  • 5 Tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic

OPTIONAL – TO GARNISH

  • crushed nuts or seeds (e.g. walnut, peanut, pistachio, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, etc.)
  • finely chopped green onion – if you want the nice colour contrast

Instructions

  • Place chicken pieces into a large mixing bowl. Add the rice wine, ginger powder, salt, and ground black pepper and mix them well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the chicken for 30 mins in the fridge.
  • Coat each chicken piece with the starch powder thoroughly. (It’s best doing this in 4 to 5 batches so that they are well covered with the starch powder.)
  • - Pour some cooking oil into a deep saucepan/wok and heat until it reaches 175 C/ 347 F (or boiling).
    - Deep fry the rice cakes in batches until the outer layer turns crispy (under 30 seconds to avoid possible rice cake explosion). Take them out and set aside onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Repeat this with the remaining rice cakes.
    - Deep fry the battered chicken pieces in batches until golden and cooked through (2 to 3 mins). Take them out and set aside onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Repeat this with the remaining chicken. (Don’t put too much chicken in one go as it can lower the oil temperature down.) To make the chicken extra crunchy, double fry them one more time. Set aside.
  • Pour the sauce into a heated skillet. Bring it to boil on medium heat until the sauce thickens a little bit (1 to 2 mins). Stir constantly. Add the double fried chicken and coat with the sauce quickly and thoroughly. Garnish with your choice of toppings (e.g. crushed nuts, seeds and green onion). Serve.

Notes

1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml

Nutrition

Calories: 758kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 1063mg | Potassium: 1018mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 5.1% | Vitamin C: 6.2% | Calcium: 5.5% | Iron: 14.2%
Tried this recipe?I love hearing how you went with my recipes! Leave a comment below or Tag me on Instagram @MyKoreanKitchen.
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Written by: Sue

Last Updated: May 13, 2019

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the creator of My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

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56 thoughts on “Korean Style Popcorn Chicken”

  1. Made this recipe today and it was awesome! Only thing to go out and get was the gochujang and the rice cakes and holy cow, I am going to use a ton of gochujang in my soupy and saucy stuff going forward! Excellent heat, excellent flavor. This dish rocked! Thank you Sue, I’m full!

  2. Hi Sue, may I ask? How can i substitute rice wine in this recipe? would vinegar do it? the reason is, i don’t consume alcohol including wine (religion reason). so, i would love to find out any substitution of rice wine or i could totally omit it from the recipe?
    Hasamida. Thank you.

  3. I’ve made these a while back for my boys (they all gobbled it up BTW!) but haven’t had a chance to comment on it until now.

    I loved it so much that I even shared a post about your blog and this dish on my site: http://www.mykoreanamericanhome.com/10-best-korean-recipe-blogs/

    Thanks again for your delicious, easy to follow recipes. Next I’m going to try your Korean Candied Sweet Potatoes recipe… It looks just as good as I remember it from my childhood in Korea…

    • Hi Sue! I made this recipe and it was delicious. My parents and little brother thought it was fantastic to the point they want me to make this dish for our next family gathering. It was a sweet saucy crunchy snack and I would definitely recommend. Thank you for your recipe!

  4. Made this tonight and it was fabulous. Served it over Chinese white man yang noodles and they went together very well. This recipe is definitely a keeper!!Thanks for sharing!

    • I don’t know what Chinese white man yang noodles are like, but great to hear you enjoyed this dish with it! Thanks for your feedback! 🙂

  5. I tried this in Busan. I don’t know the name of the place, but everyone on my husband’s base knows it as Superman Chicken because of the owner of the restaurant is in a Superman Costume, so we call it Superman Chicken. It’s delicious! I’m so glad that I found this recipe, so I can try to recreate the recipe.

  6. i never seem to get the chicken really crunchy, i do double fry and they have a crunch but not as many claim and as soon as the sauce is on longer than a minute it gets soggy quickly, is the corn starch enough? or is there another coating to get them somehow more crispy?

  7. First time cooking Korean food. (Korean I treat due to daughters love if K-pop and K dramas, though must admit to now have my own interest in it.
    Loved the recipe and went down well with all concerned, going to be a definite favourite. Going to work through some of the other recipes. Found a local oriental supermarket which look as if they have all I will need.
    Thanks for sharing the recipes

  8. We had this tonight and absolutely loved it! Just the right balance of flavours, thank you so much from London!

  9. THIS WAS AMAZING! Served this for dinner tonight and was a huge hit & my family hates thighs! My 4yr old grandson said ‘This is a great dinner. You should be on Food network star. You’d win every Monday!’ Still smiling on that one.
    That being said, for all you who want to try this but don’t have all the ingredients and want to wait, you’ll miss out. I used red wine, avocado oil, garlic powder, light Brown sugar,no chilli paste or rice cakes.But follow all the techniques. Sue thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to try with all the ingredients. Daughter shopping tomorrow for triple.????

  10. I made this earlier this week and it came out fantastic! I did make a bit more chicken so I added a little extra of the sauce ingredients as well. I think when it comes to the rice cakes, I soaked them in water and fully dried them before cutting them in half. I didn’t put the heat up too high on the oil and I left them in for just under a minute so they had a “rough” layer on the outside but weren’t browned. That seemed to work well and I had no issues with them exploding, luckily! My boyfriend has taken the leftovers to work for 3 days in a row he loved this recipe so much! Thank you for sharing it! 🙂

  11. This was absolutely amazingly delicious! They came out perfect and so BEAUTIFUL, too!

    I had never eaten rice cakes before, but I happened to have some (I have a disease called – “if a food item exists, I must have it!”). I followed your steps on preparing them. I have no idea if they turned out like they were supposed to. I found them to be a little too chewy to be enjoyable. Is that how they are supposed to be? I bought the ones that look like diagonal/oval disks and soaked them for 10 minutes like you said. Perhaps I should have soaked them longer? Maybe that is just how they are supposed to be!

    I have loved every recipe I have tried from your site. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing talent with the rest of us!!!

    • Hi Rachel, that’s great to hear! Thanks.

      The oval disk shaped rice cakes should provide the similar texture to tubular shaped rice cakes when cooked. Was yours chewy like mochi rice cake? It is possible that your rice cake may contained glutinous (sweet) rice flour. That can make the rice cake chewy. Though, these types of rice cakes are usually made with 100% plain rice flour, which is not sticky.

  12. This recipe is fantastic! Just the right amount of spicy, sweet, crunchy…absolutely delicious! I slipped the rice cakes since I didn’t have any (on order and on their way) but everything else was as written. Definitely a keeper in our house!

  13. Hi is there a way to omit or substitute the ginger powner for marinating the chicken? Not a big fan of ginger and not sure I can find ginger powder in my area.

    Thanks!

  14. Hi… can I leave out the rice cake? Just use chicken tenderloin? Also, can I leave out the potato starch and frying step? And just sauté w/ the sauce?

    • Yes, you can leave out the rice cakes. (It’s mentioned in the note section.) Chicken tenderloin should be fine too.
      I can’t stop you from what you’re trying to do. But this dish is meant to be deep fried then coated with the sauce.

  15. This recipe is outstanding! We loved it and I plan to make it often. Our favorite aspect of the dish was that the fried chicken remained crunchy even when covered with the sauce (I double-fried the chicken). I used all breast meat, and it was still very juicy. I tend to be wary of deep-frying, but I liked working with the bite-sized pieces of meat because they cooked so quickly. I served it with rice and your Sautéed Cucumber Side Dish.

  16. Hi, Sue. I really want to make this recipe. Looks so delish! But is there any subtitute for rice wine? Or is it ok if i dont use it? Thank you 🙂

    • You can use other types of alcohol (e.g. leftover white wine) instead. If having alcohol is the problem, just skip it. (Though I can’t gurantee that it will taste as good as this one. ? )

  17. Thank you SO much. I’ve missed this street food so much since leaving Seoul and finally I found a sauce recipe that tastes exactly like the sauce of the cup chicken I would eat in 이대. 진심으로 고마워요 ㅠㅠ I’ve made this 3 times in the past 2 weeks, and my family and friends now love it too 🙂

    • Wow! So this taste like Edae’s chicken in a cup?! I LOVED THOSE CARTS SO MUCH!
      Definitely giving this recipe a try.

      Have you tried Hong Cup in Hongdae? I massively preferred the fried popcorn chicken there: garlic soy fried chicken pieces, rice cakes, tator tots, and optional cheese sauce. SO GOOD.

      On the other hand, HOW DO YOU FRY THE KOREAN RICE CAKES? I tried frying them and THEY EXPLODED like grenades! The texture of the fried rice cake was so dangerously good though.

      • Hey Abraham, I haven’t tried Edae nor Hondae’s version, so hopefully somebody else can answer your question. 😉
        But Hong cup sounds really good. I’ve got to try it next time when I visit Korea.

        In regards to the exploding rice cakes, please read this comment.

      • My memory might not be perfect but to me, it tastes really similar to the edae cup chicken stands 🙂 The tater tots and cheese sauce make it so perfect.

        Sadly I never managed to try Hong cup despite really wanting to. I’m going back to Seoul in April so I’ll definitely have to get it then!

  18. I have made this twice in 2 weeks!! Could not find rice cakes, ordered on line!! This recipe is absolutely delicious!! Now I can watch my Kdramas and have a great Korean meal also!!
    Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!!

  19. Hi Sue. It was nice looking at ur page. Actually I want to open a Korean BBQ restaurant in my home town. But the problem is we don’t get some ingredient in my area.u have inspired me to open one.

  20. Thanks for publishing this recipe, Sue. It is assuredly delicious! It might have been my own ignorance, but I almost burned my kitchen down when I tried to deep-fry the rice cakes, however. I bought some refrigerated ones at a Korean market that look identical to those you have pictured and as they were frying they began exploding! I was lucky I don’t have a gas stove because hot oil was flying all over and would have surely ignited. I moved the pan off of the heat and they continued exploding and sending oil everywhere – – even blowing the oil screen off the top of the pan! What did I do wrong and why did this happen? Ahnyeong Hasayo!

    • Hi Jeff, Glad to hear you enjoyed the popcorn chicken and survived from the rice cakes bomb 🙂 OMG, that sounds scary! I think maybe you fried the rice cakes a little bit too long, and/or the oil temperature was too high. My rice cakes sometimes explode too, but it’s usually one or two near the end. For sure, it makes me jump when it happens! I think I should start adding “safety warning” for these recipes. By the way, was your rice cakes soft when you put them into the oil? And if you soaked them in water as I suggested in the recipe, you should have wiped the water off before putting them into the oil as well. Just in case, this might have caused it. 🙂

  21. Hi Sue! I really love your blog and recipes. I would like to do this chicken, but unfortunately i don’t have rice wine. Do you know what can I use instead of it?

  22. Hi Sue, love the ingredients in Korean style popcorn chicken. And your notes about how you ate it as a child. Definitely will try and sincerely appreciate that you shared your recipe! Sylvieann

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