The Simple Addition That Will Give Your Fried Chicken A Punch

One of the most satisfying comfort foods of all time, fried chicken is a nostalgic dish that reminds many of us of childhood picnics, potlucks, and get-togethers. And while it tends to be adored by kids, fried chicken is a favorite of many adults, too. In its ideal form, it boasts hot, juicy, and tender meat encased by a crunchy, well seasoned, and greaseless crust.

If you've ever made the dish at home, you know that fried chicken, at its most basic, features pieces of poultry dredged in seasoned flour and fried in plenty of hot oil. But for creative home cooks and professional chefs alike, it can be fun to fancy up fried chicken with "secret" ingredients, such as mustard for spiciness, tamarind and lime for tang, or cornstarch for extra crunch (via Kitchn). But without a doubt, the ingredient most fried chicken enthusiasts rely on is a thorough brine.

According to Serious Eats, brining chicken before breading and frying it adds flavor and juiciness to the meat, setting the dish apart from un-brined versions. And there's one brine ingredient in particular that the outlet recommends for a stellar outcome.

Soak chicken in kimchi juice for a Korean-style kick

Have you ever fried chicken at home? If so, you've most likely made use of a brine prior to breading and cooking the bird. The most common type of brine seen in fried chicken recipes is undoubtedly dairy-based for buttermilk fried chicken, with the ingredient's acidity tenderizing the poultry and lending a tangy flavor (via Bon Appétit). But there are many ways to brine a bird, and one that Serious Eats recommends is a kimchi-laced version.

The recipe's developer, J. Kenji López-Alt, features the resulting fried chicken cutlet in a Korean-style sandwich, dolled up with kimchi mayo and a hot chili oil sauce with gochujang. It only makes sense to brine the chicken in the juice from a jar of kimchi, then, the famous Korean pickle that features mixed vegetables fermented with salt, gochugaru chili flakes, and other seasonings. When used as a brine, the salt found in kimchi liquid tenderizes the meat and "alters the protein structure of the chicken so that it retains more moisture as it cooks," López-Alt notes. A similar effect occurs in pickle-brined fried chicken, which cooks love for its moistening effects (via New York Times Cooking).

López-Alt's brine also includes buttermilk and additional flavors, such as soy sauce and chili. When it's time to fry, he dribbles a little bit of the brine into the seasoned flour, which helps create a nubbly crust that fries up extra crispy.