Is Korean Fried Chicken Healthy? (Nutritional Value)

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As with most foods that Korea adopts from the United States, they take it one-step further and improve upon the ingredients. 

Not only is this true with their version of Corn Dogs but also with the Koreans’ adaptation of fried chicken. 

Plus, there are several varieties of Korean fried chicken, which are all delicious.

But is Korean fried chicken healthy? Yes and no. When comparing it to American-style fried chicken, yes, it very much is. This is because the crust is thinner, has far less fat and doesn’t use a heavy artery-clogging batter. However, it does still have a considerable amount of fat, sodium and cholesterol.

Even still, fried chicken in Korea is a ubiquitous staple. 

You can find it at any one of over 30,000 restaurants or on many domestic dinner tables that serve it in South Korea.

Let’s dive deeper.

About Korean Fried Chicken

Fried chicken in Korea is not a phenomenon born upon contact with the US. 

Actually, they have had some version of it since the 15th century, during the Goryeo Dynasty. 

But, after introduction to Japan and then American cuisines, fried chicken in Korea has taken on a whole new life of its own.

Called “chikin” in Korea, fried chicken actually refers to a whole subculture of dishes featuring the meat prepared in a myriad of ways. 

Almost all Korean fried chicken uses young or medium-sized chickens, so the meat is very tender and juicy.

Varieties of Korean Fried Chicken

Most Korean fried chicken has a thin, almost translucent crust that’s delightfully crackly and crunchy. 

Typical fried chicken, or “huraideu chikin,” has spices along with sugar and salt.

Then there’s spicy fried chicken, known as “yangyeom chikin.” This cooks as typical fried chicken. 

However, they season it prior to and after frying along with brushing it in a sweet and spicy red chile paste sauce. 

Koreans also make chicken that’s half huraideu and half yangyeom.

Ganjang chickin, or soy sauce chicken, is a typical fried chicken rolled in a savory sweet sauce and it tastes very garlicky. 

For a more oniony experience, you can get “padak,” which is fried chicken smothered in or topped with thinly shredded green onion. 

For a sweeter take on the soy sauce version, there’s “honey chickin.”

How to Eat Korean Fried Chicken

The methods and times to eat Korean fried chicken are as numerous as the variations. 

For instance, it can come as an appetizer, an after-meal snack or as an anju (food consumed with alcohol). 

Many restaurants serve their fried chicken with soft drinks or beer and pickled radishes on the side.

Nutritional Value of Korean Fried Chicken

In one piece of typical Korean fried chicken, or about 45 grams, there are about 150 calories. 

This comes with almost 10 grams of total fat, 280 milligrams of sodium, and 30 milligrams of cholesterol. 

It also has about 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbohydrates. 

But, no one eats only one little drum or wing of a chicken.

This means five pieces of Korean fried chicken will have about 50 grams of fat, nearly 1,400 milligrams of sodium and about 150 milligrams of cholesterol. 

So, this is technically not healthy. However, when consumed in moderation and on rare occasions, it’s perfectly okay to eat.

For those looking to manage their weight, you should only eat Korean fried chicken once every three months or so. 

When you do, make sure you perform 30 minutes of exercise to ensure you burn off all the excess carbs and fat. 

Walking, running or biking will suffice.

Typical Korean Fried Chicken Recipe

fried chicken

The following recipe is for basic Korean fried chicken. It has the least amount of calories, fat, and cholesterol. 

Of course, you can adjust whatever ingredients you must to make it more accommodating to your preferences.

Items You’ll Need

  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Plate Covered with Wax Paper or Paper Towel
  • Whisk
  • 2 Large Mixing Bowls
  • Deep Fryer or Large Frying Pan
  • 1 Chopstick

Ingredients

  • 8 pcs Chicken (wings, drumsticks or boneless strips)
  • 2½ Cups Potato Starch
  • 1¼ Cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Rice Wine, Soju or Mirin
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic (minced)
  • 3 tsp Curry Powder
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1½ tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1½ tsp Salt
  • ¾ tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 4 Cups Cooking Oil

Directions

  1. Rinse and dry the chicken.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, use a whisk to blend rice wine, ¼ tsp black pepper, soy sauce, minced fresh garlic and ½ tsp salt. 
  3. Put the chicken into this and let it soak for about five to 10 minutes.
  4. In another large bowl, blend the rest of the ingredients, except the cooking oil, to create the batter. It will be thick and runny at first. 
  5. Allow this to settle and nearly solidify; mix it one more time when ready to use it on the chicken.
  6. When the chicken is ready, put all the chicken into the bowl of batter and mix it around well. Ensure each piece and inch of chicken coats with the batter. Let this sit in the bowl.
  7. Use medium heat to warm the cooking oil. You’ll know it’s hot enough when you plunge a chopstick into the oil and bubbles form at the tip.
  8. With your fingers or tongs, place chicken into the oil. Do not cover the pan or overcrowd it. Ensure there’s a considerable space between each piece of chicken.
  9. Cook for 20 minutes (turning halfway if using a pan) or until golden brown.
  10. Put on plate with a paper towel or wax paper.

Conclusion

Korean fried chicken isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing you can eat. 

However, moderation is the key to success. 

If you can limit yourself to five pieces about every three months or so, you won’t ruin your diet or create problems for your plan of eating right.

About The Author

Photo of author

Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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