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Every year Bravado Spice has made a Thanksgiving-themed recipe video of some sort. We knew we wanted to make a fried turkey this year but we didn't want to make a cajun fried turkey this time. It was at this moment that someone piped up and said: "Well, what about a Korean fried turkey?" and we all went quiet as the gravity of the idea hit us. This recipe was ROUSING success and, frankly one of the best things we've ever made in the 5+ years or even since we started making this type of content. Korean fried chicken is an absolute treat characterized by tender chicken encased in an incredibly crunchy crust with a sweet and savory glaze. The potato starch-based crust on this turkey was shatteringly crunchy, the meat was incredibly tender and moist, and the Bravado Spice Black Garlic Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce we used in the glaze added the perfect heat and zip to round things out. This might very well be the single greatest turkey dish you'll ever have. Traditions are both broken and created every day, and we HIGHLY encourage you to make this Korean Fried Turkey recipe one of yours. Full recipe video at the bottom.
It's essential to break down the turkey correctly before beginning. It's been said many times, but we're going to say it again here: thaw the turkey completely before cooking. We used a 16 lb bird, and it took every bit of 3 days in the fridge plus another hour slacking in cold water in the sink for it to thaw. Next, we patted the turkey completely dry and removed the neck and gizzards. From there, we broke the bird down into legs, breasts, and wings, but we gave the thighs a special treatment: we deboned the thighs and cut them into bite-sized nuggets; you certainly don't have to, but they cook quickly and make a great snack. Our video lays out the turkey butchery very well, but if you really want an in-depth explanation of how to break down a turkey, there are some excellent options here and here.
If you've never been fortunate enough to have Korean fried chicken you should drop everything you're doing and go get some right now. It sits in a rather unique place within the fried chicken pantheon in that its uniquely crunchy crust seals in the moisture in meat such that it essentially steams under pressure. The chicken is usually twice fried: once for about 12-15 minutes at 350° F to cook the chicken completely and form the curst, and then again for another minute or so to make the crust extra crispy. It then gets sauced and tossed in a sweet & spicy glaze. After testing a wing, we decided that this particular crust was already so crunchy that the extra fry wasn't really necessary, but your mileage may vary. The sauce we made features Bravado Spice Black Garlic Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce. Black garlic is originally a Korean ingredient in which regular garlic gets slow roasted and aged for as long as 90 days until it comes black, thick, sweet, and soft with a paste-like texture. It's important to let the sauce simmer until it has reduced and thickened.
The batter used in Korean fried chicken is unique. It's a thin wet batter featuring potato starch and flour in a 3:2 ratio plus salt & pepper and sparkling water. There are no breadcrumbs or anything like that. You can also find sparkling water or even Sprite or 7UP used in Japanese tempura, but they often use tapioca or rice flour and end up with a softer crust. You may notice in the video that we swirl the pieces around just a bit before setting them all the way down in the hot oil. This ensures that the battered area most likely to come into contact with the bottom gets hardenedbeforeit has a chance to stick to the pot.
Once you've pulled the Korean fried turkey from the oil, let it sit for a minute or two. Again, at this point you can choose to fry it again for another minute, but we didn't find it necessary. Then, in a large bowl, pour some of the sauce and make sure it is well coated. If these were smaller pieces, like wings, you could just toss them, but it's difficult and dangerous to toss a 3lb turkey breast. Just use a brush and generously brush all the pieces. We can honestly say this probably the best turkey we've ever eaten, and that this recipe will become a new Thanksgiving tradition around here. We hope you get to make and share it with all your favorite people.
13-18 lb Turkey
3 c - Potato starch
2 c - Flour
36 oz - Sparkling water
2-3 quarts - Peanut oil for frying
2 Tbsp - Salt
2 Tbsp - Pepper
2 Tbsp - Minced garlic
(optional) Sesame seed for garnish
3 Tbsp - Minced garlic
1 Tbsp - Minced ginger or ginger paste
1 c - Soy sauce
1 Tbsp - Sesame oil
2 Tbsp - Rice vinegar
1/3 c - Mirin
Make sure your turkey is COMPLETELY thawed. Try it off with some paper towels and then start by breaking down the turkey into thighs, breasts, legs, & wings as seen in the recipe video. Set the carcass, giblets, neck, and gizzards aside to make stock. We chose to debone the thighs and make bite sized nuggets out of the pieces but you certainly don't have to.
Use about 1 Tbsp each of salt & pepper plus 2 Tbsp minced garlic and spread thoroughly over the turkey pieces.
Add about 2.5 - 3 quarts of peanut oil into a large dutch oven or pot and bring up to 330 - 350°F.
In large bowl, mix the potato starch, flour, and 1 Tbsp each of salt & pepper with a whisk. Then slowly add the sparkling water while whisking continuously. You should end up with a batter that is very close to the consistency of a thing pancake or crêpe batter. You may even need to add an extra 2-4 oz of water depending on the humidity in your area.
Once your oil is up to temperature, take a piece of turkey, thoroughly coat it in batter and place it in the hot oil. Slowly swirl the piece of turkey as you put it in the oil. This ensures that the battered area most likely to come into contact with the bottom gets hardened before it has a chance to stick to the pot. Fry 2-3 large pieces at a time, taking care not to over fill the pot.
Let the larger pieces fry for 15-18 minutes, the medium pieces for 12-15 minutes, and if you decide to cut the thighs into nuggets like we did, they'll fry for 6-9 minutes. Use a thermometer to make sure the center of the pieces have reached 165°F.
Once the pieces of turkey have cooked, remove them from the hot oil and let them drain either on a cooling rack or paper towels. You can choose to re-fry them for another minute or so if you wish. Then, in a bowl, coat the Korean fried turkey pieces with sauce. You may need to use a brush to thoroughly and evenly coat each piece. Serve immediately.
In a sauce pot, heat the sesame oil to medium heat. Don't let it smoke.
Add 1 Tbsp each of minced garlic & minced ginger and heat for about 30-45 seconds or until the garlic has just started to turn yellowish brown. Then add the soy sauce, brown sugar mirin, rice vinegar, and Bravado Spice Black Garlic Carolina Reaper Hot Sauce.
Heat over medium heat until the sauce begins to simmer and reduce. Once the sauce has thickened and reduced by about 25%, set it aside. You'll need it to glaze and coat the turkey.
We served our Korean fried turkey with some kim chi, pickled cucumbers, stuffing, and sweet potato pie, but this fried turkey will go with just about any Thanksgiving combination.