"I came up with the idea for this dish after listening to two friends talk about instant noodles – a subject that is dear to my stomach. Peter reminisced about eating instant noodles, sprinkled with the seasoning mix, straight out of the packet, without cooking them first. Carol said that she hadn’t ever tasted one of my favourite instant noodles, Nongshim Shin Ramyun. I wondered how instant noodles would work as a coating for fried chicken, and fortunately had a packet of Nongshim Shin Ramyun in my cupboard. (An important tip if you want to buy these: seek out the ones made in South Korea, because they taste so much better than the ones made elsewhere.)
It was one of the easiest fried chicken dishes I’ve made, and the noodles fried up spicy and crunchy. You can vary the flavour by using other types of instant noodles, but make sure the seasoning packet is a dry mix, not a paste. Also, use only the seasoning powder, not any oil or dehydrated vegetables that may come in the packet. This fried chicken goes very well with soju (Korean distilled alcoholic beverage) or beer."
Kung Pao & Beyond by Susan Jung (Quadrille, £20), Photography by Yuki Sugiura
- 450g boneless chicken thighs
- coarse salt crystals, as necessary
- 2–4 packets of instant noodles, depending on size
- about 60g (2oz) potato, sweet potato or tapioca flour
- 2–3 eggs
- 750ml cooking oil
- Butterfly the chicken thighs, cut them into 2.5cm (1in) chunks and put them in a bowl. Weigh the chicken, then multiply the amount by 0.005 – this is the amount of salt you need. Sprinkle the salt over the chicken, mix well, then set aside for at least 10 minutes.
- Put the noodles with the contents of the dry seasoning pack in a food processor. Process until the noodles are about the size of rice grains.
- Put the potato, sweet potato or tapioca flour in a shallow dish. Whisk the eggs in another shallow dish and put the instant noodles in a third dish. Dredge the chicken thighs in the flour and shake off the excess, then dip in the egg. Dredge in the instant noodles, pressing firmly so they adhere. Lay the chicken on a cooling rack placed over a tray.
- Pour the cooking oil into a pan, preferably a medium wok, set over a medium heat. Fry the chicken in two batches at 160ºC (320ºF). Fry the pieces for 4 minutes, then put them on the rack placed over the tray – there’s no need to fry again.