Recipe

Koji Fried Chicken

by Tim Chin

I think fried chicken is something that few people dislike (and if you hate it, I don’t want to know you anyway). Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Out in Cleveland, koji master Jeremy Umansky is working on a game-changing koji-cultured fried chicken that uses the mold as a crust. I’m not nearly as crazy (or as cool), but I still wanted to take advantage of the amazing tenderizing and flavor-boosting properties of shio koji, a mixture of rice koji, water, and salt. So I marinated a bunch of chicken in the stuff and even incorporated some dried granular rice koji into the coating itself to produce juicy, meaty, deep golden-brown, crunchtastic chicken.

Yield
Serves 4 to 6
KojiFriedChicken-67.jpg
Ingredients
1,500 g bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs), trimmed
150 g shio koji
110 g firm granular rice koji
110 g all-purpose flour
110 g cornstarch
6 g plus 3 g kosher salt, divided, plus extra for seasoning
3 g plus 3 g pepper, divided
3.5 g baking powder
210 g buttermilk
1,300 g vegetable oil
3½ pounds bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs), trimmed
7 tablespoons shio koji
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3.75 ounces) firm granular rice koji
½ cup plus ⅓ cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) cornstarch
2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus extra for seasoning
1 teaspoon plus one teaspoon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
6 cups vegetable oil
Essential Equipment
Instructions
    • 1,500 g bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs), trimmed 
    • 150 g shio koji
    Combine chicken and shio koji in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Press out excess air, seal, and massage bag to evenly distribute shio koji. Refrigerate chicken for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days. 
    • 110 g firm granular rice koji 
    • 110 g all-purpose flour 
    • 110 g cornstarch 
    • 6 g plus 3 g kosher salt, divided, plus extra for seasoning 
    • 3 g plus 3 g pepper, divided 
    • 3.5 g baking powder 
    • 210 g buttermilk
    Combine koji, flour, cornstarch, 6 g salt, 3 g pepper, and baking powder in blender and blend on high speed until finely ground, about 2 minutes. Transfer koji mixture to large shallow dish. Whisk buttermilk, remaining 3 g salt, and remaining 3 g pepper in large bowl. Working with 3 pieces at a time, dunk chicken in buttermilk mixture, then dredge in flour mixture, pressing mixture onto chicken to form thick, even coating. Place chicken, skin side up, on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1½ hours or up to 24 hours.
    • 1,300 g vegetable oil
    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Meanwhile, heat oil in large Dutch oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C over medium-high heat. Place half of chicken in oil, reduce heat to medium, and fry until first side is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to fry until second side is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes longer. (Adjust heat as necessary to maintain oil temperature around 300 degrees F/149 degrees C.) Transfer chicken to second wire rack set in second rimmed baking sheet. Return oil to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C and repeat with remaining chicken.  
    • Kosher salt for seasoning
    Bake chicken until breasts register 160 degrees F/71 degrees C and thighs/drumsticks register 170 degrees F/77 degrees C, 10 to 20 minutes, transferring pieces to serving platter as they come to temperature. Season chicken with salt to taste, and serve.  
Instructions
    • 3½ pounds bone-in chicken pieces (split breasts cut in half, drumsticks, and/or thighs), trimmed 
    • 7 tablespoons shio koji
    Combine chicken and shio koji in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Press out excess air, seal, and massage bag to evenly distribute shio koji. Refrigerate chicken for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days. 
    • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3.75 ounces) firm granular rice koji
    • ½ cup plus ⅓ cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup (4 ounces) cornstarch
    • 2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus extra for seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    Combine koji, flour, cornstarch, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and baking powder in blender and blend on high speed until finely ground, about 2 minutes. Transfer koji mixture to large shallow dish. Whisk buttermilk, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in large bowl. Working with 3 pieces at a time, dunk chicken in buttermilk mixture, then dredge in flour mixture, pressing mixture onto chicken to form thick, even coating. Place chicken, skin side up, on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 1½ hours or up to 24 hours. 
    • 6 cups vegetable oil
    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Meanwhile, heat oil in large Dutch oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C over medium-high heat. Place half of chicken in oil, reduce heat to medium, and fry until first side is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to fry until second side is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes longer. (Adjust heat as necessary to maintain oil temperature around 300 degrees F/149 degrees C.) Transfer chicken to second wire rack set in second rimmed baking sheet. Return oil to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C and repeat with remaining chicken.  
    • Kosher salt for seasoning
    Bake chicken until breasts register 160 degrees F/71 degrees C and thighs/drumsticks register 170 degrees F/77 degrees C, 10 to 20 minutes, transferring pieces to serving platter as they come to temperature. Season chicken with salt to taste, and serve.  
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