Years ago (I must have been 15 or 16), my family attended a summer neighborhood potluck, held annually in our neighborhood to ring in the warm weather. There’s usually all kinds of food at these potlucks; stews and beef and potatoes of all kinds. What’s never missing is my family’s fried chicken, a recipe passed down from my grandmother (see below!). Well, imagine my surprise when I come back to get another piece of our fried chicken and I see another dish of fried chicken sitting right next to it! It looked darker and like it had a sticky sauce on it; who’d brought this sweet-smelling fried chicken? “It’s Korean Fried Chicken,” said a voice behind me. I turned to find a young girl about my age. She told me her name was Jang-mi and that her family had just moved in and wanted to meet the neighbors at the potluck. She asked if I was offended that they’d brought the same thing, but I wasn’t; I just wanted to know what it was and to try it! She explained to me how Korean Fried Chicken is double fried for extra-crunchiness and painted with a sauce when finished. We had a great time trying each other’s food (it’s delicious, and I’ll need to ask for permission to post her recipe!), and by the end of our conversation, we’d realized we were both starting at the same high school that fall. She said she felt relieved that she had a friend to start school with; she just moved here and didn’t know anyone yet. We were close as can be all throughout high school, and although our lives took us on different paths, I’ll never forget that potluck or our friendship!
Grandma's Fried Chicken
- 1 4 pound chicken, cut into pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour for coating
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
- Take chicken pieces and skin them if you prefer. Put flour in large plastic bag. Season flour with paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
- Dip chicken pieces in buttermilk; then, a few at a time, put them in the bag with the flour, seal the bag and shake to coat. Place coated chicken on cookie sheet, and cover with a clean dish towel or waxed paper. Let sit until flour hydrates and becomes sticky.
- Fill a large skillet about 1/3 to 1/2 full with vegetable oil. Heat until very hot. Put in as many chicken pieces as the skillet can hold without overcrowding the pan. Brown chicken on both sides. When browned, reduce heat and cover skillet; let cook for 30 minutes (the chicken will be cooked through but not crispy). Remove cover, raise heat again and continue to fry until crispy.
- Drain fried chicken on paper towels.