Dakgangjeong (Sweet Crispy Chicken)

Dakgangjeong (닭강정) is a deep-fried crispy chicken dish glazed in a sticky, sweet, and spicy sauce. It’s traditionally made with a whole chicken that’s been cut up. Some people make it only with chicken wings. However, dakgangjeong made with bite sized boneless chicken pieces has become a recent food craze in Korea, adding to the growing trends of Korean fried chicken. I personally like the boneless version because it’s quicker and easier to make.

Dak means chicken in Korean. Gangjeong is a type of traditional Korean confectionery. It’s made by deep-frying sweet rice batter into crackers, coating with a syrup, and finally covering with puffed rice, sesame seeds, or nuts. Traditionally, the similar concept/technique — deep frying and coating with a sticky syrup — is also used to make various other sweet and savory dishes. Dakgangjeong is the chicken version.  

To make this dish, I first soaked the raw chicken in milk for a couple of hours, but it’s not absolutely necessary. The milk helps tenderize the meat and remove any odor, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful fried chicken. Then, the chicken gets marinated with a little bit of salt, ginger and garlic before being lightly coated with the potato starch.

The sauce is sweet and tangy with a little spicy kick from the gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste). It’s far from fiery hot, but reduce or omit the gochujang if you’d like. You can replace gochujang partially or entirely with ketchup. It’s very common to use ketchup in a dakgangjeong sauce for a milder taste. You can also boost the heat level by simmering the sauce with a little bit of gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes) or whole dried red peppers.

I try not to eat too much fried food, but I couldn’t stop popping these into my mouth. So addictive! Who wouldn’t like crispy tender chicken that’s sweet, tangy, and spicy all in one bite?

Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh and/or breast
1/2 cup milk (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine (if not using milk)

1/3 cup potato starch (or corn starch)

oil for deep frying

Sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
3 tablespoons honey (or corn or rice syrup)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
pinch pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts (or almonds) for garnish

Soak the chicken pieces in milk for at least 2 hours in the fridge. This step is optional.

Drain thoroughly. Remove any visible fat. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Mix with the salt, pepper, rice wine (if you didn’t use milk) garlic, and ginger. Let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

In a pan, add all the sauce ingredients, and stir well. Bring it to a boil. When it starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until it thickens slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the heat off.

Add the potato (or corn) starch to the chicken, and mix well to coat evenly.

Add about 1 inch of oil to a heavy bottom pan. When the oil is sufficiently hot (350°F or starts smoking), drop the chicken pieces in one at a time. Fry them in two batches. Overcrowding will drop the oil temperature too quickly. Cook until light golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and set them on a wire rack or a paper towel-lined plate. 

Reheat the oil to 350°F. Deep fry again until golden brown, about 30 to 40 seconds. You can do the second frying in one batch. 


Heat the sauce over medium low heat. Add the chicken and stir well until the chicken pieces are evenly coated.

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Comments

  1. 대단히 감사합니다 Thank you so much for generously sharing these recipes. Now i must get a crock pot again. I’m so excited! Korean Mart here i come for more spices!

  2. Oh wow, this sounds and looks amazing. I kinda want to surprise Nina with this dish, so I have two questions that I cannot really ask her:

    Can the milk part be omitted or can I replace the milk with soy milk and will that have the same effect?

    Since potato and corn starch is off limits for her, can I use rice starch instead?

    Thanks so much, 선생님!! ;)

    • You can omit the milk part. I’m not sure if soy milk does the same thing. I’ll need to try it or do some research. I haven’t used rice starch for deep frying, but it sounds like a good substitute. Let me know how it turns out. Thank you, Oliver!

    • I made it today. Skipped the milk part, no big deal. I think I added a bit too much of mirin to the meat for marinating, because when I added the starch, it clogged up a bit around the liquid, and not too much around the meat. It all worked out, but I will stick more religiously to your recipe next time.

      We used mung bean starch (I couldn’t find rice starch, and I only had rice flour), and I think it worked alright. I wanted the meat to be a bit more crispy, but that was minor. I added gochugaru to the sauce, and boy it got spicy!! Also substituted sugar (which Nina should also avoid) with just a bit more honey, which worked fine.

      Very, very tasty, and Nina was very, very happy. Paired it with a dry Michigan Riesling, and that worked as well.

      Again, thanks so much for the recipe!!

    • Glad to hear it worked out for you guys! Next time, try to mix mung bean starch and rice flour. That might give you a little crispier coating. I’m also going to test a few different ingredients for gluten free coating.Thanks Oliver for such a quick feedback!

  3. This sounds so good! I always love an excuse to use gochujang!

  4. Thanks for the recipe. I loved Korean fried chicken when I lived in Hawaii, so it’ll be nice to have it again.

  5. How deliciously crispy! Want to have some now!

  6. This looks beautiful, Hyosun! Who could resist this crispy sweet chicken? I love your sauce recipe.

  7. Yum! I love this dish. I am trying to cut back on the fried food too, but it’s so hard to resist anything that is deliciously both sweet and spicy. .

  8. I love this dish. It’s very delicious and quite easy to make. I make it once a month. My son loves it. Thanks for all your wonderful and easy to follow recipes.

  9. Annyeonghaseyo Hyosun unnie! :)

    I stumbled upon your blog whilst looking for korean mandu recipe, and they turned out really delicious. I then spent my evening today just going through your recipe index and have selected a few recipes to cook next week – cant wait!

    I would also loveeeee to try this recipe and have a couple of questions I was hoping you could help me with please. Is it possible to substitute potato starch with rice flour? Would love to understand the difference in the outcome. Would it be less crispy if I use rice flour? Also, just out of curiosity, what does soaking the chicken in milk do? Thank you in advance for taking your time to help. :) kamsahamida!

    • Thank you for the feedback on the mandu recipe! I’m very happy to hear they turned out well for you. Yes, it’s possible to substitute with rice flour. Rice flour is commonly used in Asian deep frying. I sometimes mix rice flour with corn starch in my deep-frying batter to give it a lighter crispy texture, but haven’t used rice flour alone. I’m sure it will be fine though. As I said in my head note, the milk helps tenderize the meat and remove chicken odor, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful fried chicken. But it’s not necessary to use it. Hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out. Happy Korean cooking!

  10. I made this last night and it was amazing. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  11. Emily Jang says:

    Just made this tonight and it was a huge success!! Thank you again!! It was actually not spicy enough for me and a bit too sweet so I’ll adjust next time for our tastes. I was curious, what type of oil do you like to fry in?

    • Excellent! Always happy to hear about success stories! And that’s the beauty of home cooking – adjust to you and your family’s tastes. I usually use canola oil. Thank you so much for trying my recipe and letting me know how it turned out! Cheers!

  12. Have you considered publishing your recipes?
    Your pictures are beautifully taken and recipes are meticulous.
    I have been recommending your website to friends.
    Since my mother passed away I didn’t know who to call for recipes but now
    your website is my daily ritual.
    Thank you again for posting and continuously updating your recipes.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope to publish them one day. And thank you for spreading the word! I’m sorry to hear about your mom, but glad I can be helpful in a small way.

  13. Hello. I just found your blog! I want to make korean fried chicken but I’m so curious with the frying parts. What I want to ask is do I really need to fry the chicken in two stages like yours? What happen if I just fry it all once until it becomes golden brown? Thank you! :)

  14. Looks good..now..I am craving :)

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