This is Chef Solomonov’s homage to the addictive Korean fried chicken at Café Soho in North Philadelphia. The key to the sticky richness of the glaze is kecap manis, an Indonesian sweet soy sauce, along with tons of roasted garlic. This sweet-salty-funky shellac works wonders when brushed on crunchy fried chicken.
Roast garlic: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut head of garlic in half horizontally to expose the cloves (you don’t need to cut all the way through). Drizzle the cut surface with olive oil, close the halves back together, and wrap securely in a double layer of foil. Roast until the cloves are tender and golden brown, 45-60 minutes. Unwrap and set aside to cool.
Soy-Garlic Glaze: In a medium bowl, add kecap manis, white soy sauce, sherry vinegar, and red pepper flakes. When garlic is cool enough to handle, gently squeeze the roasted cloves into the bowl. Stir with a spoon to break up the cloves, then whisk until combined (it's okay to leave some small pieces!). Set aside.(Note: Makes a little less than 2 cups of Soy-Garlic Glaze. Leftover Soy-Garlic Glaze can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)
Cure chicken: In a large bowl, add salt and mustard and onion powders, and combine until well blended. Add the chicken pieces and get in there with your hands to coat each piece well. Put the coated pieces of chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, keeping the skin intact; lightly cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Bring the cured chicken to room temperature. (You don’t want to fry ice-cold chicken, because it won’t cook all the way through, and it will chill the frying oil.) Meanwhile, make the batter: In a large bowl, add the cornstarch, flour, and salt. Slowly pour in the cold water, whisking continuously, until the mixture is smooth and the consistency of thin pancake batter. Add more water as needed to thin the batter.
Heat oil: Clip a candy or deep fry thermometer onto a large, heavy pot. Add enough canola oil to fully submerge the chicken pieces—about halfway up the side of the pot. (Oil expands as it heats, so don’t overfill the pot.) Heat the oil over low heat until it reaches 300 F. (It’s fine if the oil temperature goes up to 350 degrees F, because it will drop once the chicken goes in.) Coat chicken: When the oil is hot, add all the chicken into the batter and fully coat each piece.
First fry: Starting with the dark meat, use tongs to pick up each piece and allow the excess batter to drip off. Gently swirl the tip of the chicken in the oil to set the crust; this will prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Then ease the rest of the piece into the oil. Repeat with all the chicken pieces. Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to make sure the chicken pieces don’t stick together or to the bottom of the pot. If they do stick, gently separate them with the spoon; try not to tear the delicate crust! Use the slotted spoon to remove any stray bits of batter.
After 10 minutes total, use the slotted spoon to transfer the chicken pieces to drain on a wire rack or paper towels on a baking sheet. The chicken will not be fully cooked—there’s a second fry. Let the chicken rest, 15–20 minutes. Meanwhile, reheat the oil to 350 degrees F. (Note: The chicken can be made to this point up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated; bring it back to room temperature before the second fry.) Second fry: When the oil is hot, fry the chicken pieces again, this time for 4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.Use the slotted spoon to transfer the chicken pieces to drain on a clean wire rack set over a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
Glaze chicken: Brush glaze onto warm chicken, then flip to brush other side. (It’s fine to brush the glaze all over the chicken several times!) Serve immediately. (Note: Frying oil can be reused several times for frying chicken. Cool the oil completely, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean jar. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.)