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Author Notes: I've been cooking for a long time, but I have to say that there is really nothing that brings out the hunger in a person like a good fried chicken nugget. It is quite remarkable the reactions they get. What is it, really? The texture, flavor, the fun round of sauces to sample? Such a small nugget holds a lot of power. Definitely not to be underestimated!
After toying around with a few different flours and flavors, this became my go-to fried chicken and nugget coating. I craved a texture for the crust that would remain in the illusion of always being crispy no matter what temperature the nuggets would be (cold midnight snack, anyone??), and they also would remain somewhat light and not too bready. Sure enough, the best laid plans for a coating that could provide both was in a fantastic savory and fragrant combination of smoky and sweet seasonings to the marriage of rolled oats and rice flour. Delicious for any time of day!
As for the Kimchi Bacon Ranch Dip, one of the true loves of my life and one of the best babies to come out of my kitchen! Serve it up with your chicken nuggets - Regular or Spicy, it harmonizes right up with either. Or with your salad, pasta, fries, cheese and dip platter, and much more! It takes on many a match, with concentrating the kimchi beforehand for, of course, the best flavor combination possible! Have at it! —Caroline Choe
Fried Chicken Nuggets (Regular & Spicy) - Marinade & Coating
- 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into approx. 1 & 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup pickle juice (or substitute: 1/4 c. vinegar, 1 tbsp. honey, 1 tbsp. Kosher salt, and 2 tsp. black pepper)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 ounces Napa cabbage kimchi (for Spicy Nuggets)
- 1 cup rice flour (+ 1/2 cup for first coating)
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup onion powder
- 3 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon gochugaru, Korean red pepper flakes (for Spicy Nuggets)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (for Spicy Nuggets)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- MARINATING THE CHICKEN: In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, pickle juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Take your cut chicken pieces and place them in a resealable plastic storage bag, pouring the marinade on top, sealing the bag, and massaging the meat to fully coat the chicken pieces. Store in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 6-hours. * FOR SPICY NUGGETS: Drop the Napa cabbage kimchi into the resealable plastic storage bag with the chicken pieces, seal the bag, massage the meat together with the kimchi. Store in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 6-hours.
- In a medium-size bowl, drop in 1/2 cup of rice flour. Season it well with salt & pepper, and whisk it together. Set aside. Once the nuggets are marinated, transfer them to the bowl of seasoned rice flour and coat them lightly. * FOR SPICY NUGGETS: Remove the chicken from the kimchi, and plate the kimchi aside to reserve for later use. Coat the chicken pieces in seasoned rice flour.
- MAKE THE BREADING MIX: Into a food processor, combine the rice flour, rolled oats, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, brown sugar, Kosher salt, and pepper (*FOR SPICY NUGGETS: Add in the gochugaru and cayenne pepper as well!) Pulse until the mixture is very fine and combined. Transfer the oat-rice flour mixture into a bowl (or rimmed plate), and set aside.
- In another medium-size bowl, whisk together the eggs with a splash of water well to create your egg wash, and set aside.
- Set up your dredging stations: rice flour-coated chicken > egg wash > seasoned oat-rice flour > clean plate Remove a few pieces of chicken at a time from the flour, dip each into the egg wash, then the oat-rice flour, gently pressing the crumbs into the chicken, and set on a clean plate. Repeat steps with the remaining chicken pieces.
- In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat for approximately 8-minutes. To test and see if the oil is hot enough, you can take a speck of leftover egged-breading and put it in the oil. If it sizzles / bubbles, it should be ready for frying.
- Carefully add the chicken nuggets to the pan in batches - don't crowd them! Cook the nuggets on each side for about 3-4 minutes each or flipping as the edges look crisped up, using a spatula or chopsticks to flip them. Once the nuggets are cooked, transfer the chicken nuggets to a paper-towel-lined plate, or you can do as I do sometimes and drop them to cool spread out on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath.
- Season with a little salt on top while the nuggets are still hot, let them cool for a few minutes. Serve with Kimchi Bacon Ranch Dip!
Kimchi Bacon Ranch Dip
- 5 ounces napa cabbage kimchi (reserved from the Spicy Nuggets recipe, if they were priorly made)
- 4 strips of bacon, cooked & broken-up
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon runny honey or agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- Kosher salt
- black pepper
- 1 pinch fresh dill or parsley, chopped (optional)
- Lightly coat a small frying pan with olive oil, and set it over medium heat. Sauté the Napa cabbage kimchi for about 5-minutes, or until the kimchi is softened and the liquid reduced by at least half. Lower the heat, and mix in about a teaspoon of the sour cream to the sautéed kimchi, letting it continue to cook for about another minute. Turn the heat off, transfer the sautéed kimchi to a plate and let it cool for about 10-minutes.
- In a food processor, combine the kimchi, cooked bacon pieces, sour cream, mayonnaise, chives, onion powder, honey or agave nectar, vinegar (and chopped parsley and /or dill, if you decided to use them!) and season with salt and pepper. Blitz the mixture until it reaches a smooth texture, remembering to stop and taste frequently and adjusting seasonings however if you'd like them to be.
- Serve with your fresh-made chicken nuggets, or however you'd like it! Enjoy!