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3 foreign chefs give thumbs-up to ‘small, but tasty’ Korean chicken

Dec. 20, 2021 - 20:52 By Choi Jae-hee
Joseph Lidgerwood, the owner and head chef of restaurant Evett in Dogok-dong,Gangnam-gu,Seoul. (Evett) / Fabrizio Ferrari, the owner of Michelin one-star restaurant Al Porticciolo 84 in Lecco, Milan. (Courtesy of Fabrizio Ferrari) / Sergio Meza, the owner of Chef of Villanos en Bermudas in Bogota, Colombia. (Villanos en Bermudas)

Korean-style fried chicken has made a name for itself in the global food scene with its crisp texture and various seasoning sauces. 

On its home turf, it has become the subject of a debate among local foodies after a famous food critic Hwang Kyo-ik slammed chefs who make the dish for using small chickens and relying too much on sauce. 

“Korean chicken is not tasty because the chicken is small. The dish sold at local restaurants uses a broiler weighing about 1.5 kilograms. It is enjoyed not for the taste of the meat itself, but for the taste of the sauce,” he said in a Facebook post in late November.

To learn what global food experts think about the nation’s beloved dish, The Korea Herald talked to chefs from Australia, Italy and Mexico who are known for their great passion for Korean cuisine. 

'Great just the way it is'

Joseph Lidgerwood, the owner and head chef of the restaurant Evett, which received one Michelin star in 2019 after just a year of business, said Korean-style deep-fried chicken is great just the way it is.

“I think the current size of Korean-style fried chicken is pretty perfect, to be honest, especially when you are having more than one flavor. Also, it gives you the opportunity to taste multiple styles,” he said.

He noted various flavors added to Korean-style fried chicken sets it apart from the American variety. 

“I’m sure that Korean-style fried chicken would be a huge success in countries all over the world since it has a unique taste. There are so many varieties and flavor combos coming out every day.”

Korean-style fried chicken (123rf)

‘It’s smaller, but tastier than any other I’ve tasted’

Fabrizio Ferrari, another Michelin-starred chef from Italy said, “as a chef who cares a great deal about the quality of the products used to create delicious and beautiful dishes, I say Korean chicken is smaller in size but far tastier and enjoyable to eat than any other I ever tried around the world, which is a key point of success of Korean fried chicken.” 

Ferrari is the owner of Michelin one-star restaurant Al Porticciolo 84 in Milan, Italy, and appeared on “Korean Food Battle,” a television show aired in 2018 on the local food channel Olive TV, where traditional Korean food masters paired up with popular foreign chefs to make authentic Korean dishes and compete against each other. 

He said the wide variety of sauces used for seasoning is what makes Korean fried chicken distinctively Korean and delicious. 

“Big chicken franchises in Korea should export their products to foreign countries with the original sauces and side dishes. This would help spread Korean food culture around the globe.”

‘Easy to eat, easy to share’ 

The size of Korean-style fried chicken fits in nicely with some foreign dining cultures, including that of Latin American countries, according to Sergio Meza, the co-owner of Chef of Villanos en Bermudas in Bogota, Colombia and one of Latin America’s top chefs according to UK media company William Reed Business Media in 2017.

“I believe smaller pieces make the whole thing more enjoyable. It’s easier to eat and also to share. Also, the small size of Korean fried chicken is great because people can really enjoy eating with their hands, which is a Latino thing,” he said.

The Mexican star chef added that Korean-style fried chicken is loved by Mexicans, who normally roast or braise chicken, saying “the peculiar coating you add in the end, also the double frying process makes it super crispy and juicy.”

By Choi Jae-hee (