Su Scott's fried chicken recipe — and what she wants you to know about Korean cuisine

Su Scott talks to Prudence Wade about rediscovering her culture through cooking
Su Scott's fried chicken recipe — and what she wants you to know about Korean cuisine

Korean food has more visibility on the world stage than ever before

Food writer Su Scott says her world started to “collapse” after giving birth to her first child.

“It sounds dramatic, but when my daughter was born, it was like wow, I have this child, there is a responsibility to keep this newborn alive,” she remembers, with the added pressure of being “the sole bearer of the culture as an immigrant mum”.

Scott moved from Seoul to London when she was 19, and her half-Korean daughter, Kiki, is now eight.

Now 42, Scott has spent most of her adult life in the UK, and she remembers: “As an immigrant living in the UK, trying to embrace the culture and immerse myself into it, I lost the sense of who I am. Having my daughter made me question my identity.

Su Scott, author of Rice Table (Quadrille, £27). Picture: PA Photo/Toby Scott
Su Scott, author of Rice Table (Quadrille, £27). Picture: PA Photo/Toby Scott

“Cooking Korean food felt like the most immediate, tangible thing I could reach out to, to make some sense of who I was.” Not that it was necessarily this easy. “The whole process went on for a long time, it crept up slowly but surely,” she says.

“It didn’t take me long to realise that my world was collapsing in front of me. I didn’t know how to put it together. I knew I’d have to dig deep.” 

Scott calls it a “hard” and “lonely” experience, but says it was “very rewarding, because you come out the other side knowing exactly who you are”.

She used food as a way to reconnect with her homeland, but suggests its importance isn’t uniquely Korean.

“It’s not just my culture – I think food is such an integral part of human living. What we often forget is how the small things from our ordinary days can make up such a powerful part of who we are,” she says.

When embarking on this journey, there were two dishes from her childhood Scott wanted to try.

“The thing I really wanted to recreate and eat was bone broth,” she says, lighting up at the memory.

“When I think about my childhood, there’s this powerful moment of smell,” says Scott. “There’s this one specific memory of my father sourcing the good meat bones, and my mother preparing the broth for days on end.

“The whole house would smell of bones. It’s not a nasty smell, but it’s not overly pleasant either. It’s the dish I absolutely hated as a child, but it’s also the one I felt so loved with.” 

Scott was initially too scared to make it herself – in case it tainted her memories – but now she says “it has got another story to it”, and she makes it every winter for her daughter. And no, it doesn’t taste like her mother’s – but she says that’s “a good thing in a way”.

The other dish that “really connected me to the Korean food of my childhood was kimchi stew”, Scott says. 

She started cobbling together the ingredients for this dish without really thinking about what she was doing, and felt a “moment of euphoria” when it all came together.

“This is the taste of home,” she says. “Making this dish taught me so much about how I could reconnect to my culture, my heritage and myself.

“I needed to find the person I was when I was in Korea, in order to make sense of who I am now, as a mother.” 

Korean food has more visibility on the world stage than ever before, with Scott saying: “It’s so exciting, isn’t it? I never, ever imagined that I would see a jar of kimchi in a normal supermarket. It’s amazing.

“I think Korean food has still got a long way to go in the UK, though. The range is very limited.” That’s why Scott wants to highlight everyday Korean dishes in her debut cookbook, Rice Table.

“When you talk about Korean food with other people, they talk about bulgogi and bibimbap. Of course, these are wonderful dishes that champion Korean cuisine, but they are only a fraction of what we offer,” she says.

“I wanted to champion the daily home cooking of Korean culture. I wanted to champion all the mothers and their labours – that’s not necessarily always celebrated.” A big part of this – and what makes up the first chapter in the book – is banchan culture.

“It’s the small-plate dishes,” Scott explains. “When you Google ‘banchan’, a lot of websites will tell you it’s a side dish” – something that “really bugged” her.

Banchan dishes in the book include tofu with buttered kimchi, stir-fried fishcakes with green peppers, soy sauce-glazed aubergines, and spring onion pancakes.

“Individually they are delicious, they each have a place in their own right. It’s a bit sad to call them side dishes, isn’t it?” 

Rice Table by Su Scott is published by Quadrille on March 30, priced £27. Photography by Toby Scott.

Su Scott’s Korean fried chicken

recipe by:Su Scott

There’s a reason Korea is famous for fried chicken – this dish is crispy and moreish

Su Scott’s Korean fried chicken



Preparation Time

2 hours 0 mins

Cooking Time

10 mins

Total Time

2 hours 10 mins






  • For the chicken:
  • 600g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3cm cubes

  • 2tbsp sake

  • 1tsp golden granulated sugar

  • ½tsp celery salt

  • ½tsp freshly cracked black pepper

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • For the glaze:

  • 60g jocheong (Korean rice syrup)

  • 2tbsp tomato ketchup (catsup)

  • 2tbsp water

  • 1tbsp golden granulated sugar

  • 1tbsp soy sauce

  • 1tbsp gochujang (Korean red chilli paste)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1tbsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes), ground to a fine powder

  • For the batter:

  • 50g plain flour

  • 70g rice flour

  • 20g cornflour

  • 150ml cold water

  • To finish:

  • Toasted white sesame seeds


  1. Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl, along with the sake, sugar, celery salt and black pepper. Massage well to combine, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for one hour.
  2. To make the glaze, combine the jocheong, ketchup, water, sugar, soy sauce, gochujang and garlic in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

  3. Remove the chicken from the fridge, so it comes back to room temperature before you cook it.

  4. Put one tablespoon of vegetable oil and the gochugaru in a cold wok or sauté pan over a low heat to warm up, stirring constantly to prevent the gochugaru from burning – a flat flexible spatula is great for this.

  5. In a few minutes, the oil will change in colour to a deep red and the gochugaru will start to bloom. Swiftly add the glaze mixture and increase the heat to rapidly bubble for about two minutes to thicken the sauce enough to coat the back of the spoon, like a runny custard, but not yet sticky like wet glue. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  6. Prepare the wet batter by combining the plain flour, 30 grams of the rice flour and the cornflour. Add the water gradually to the mix and whisk to break up any lumps.

  7. Toss the chicken thoroughly with the remaining 40 grams of rice flour then add the chicken to the batter. Give it a good mix by hand.

  8. Prepare a cooling rack set over a roasting tray.

  9. To fry the chicken, fill a saucepan suitable for deep-frying with vegetable oil. It should be deep enough to submerge the chicken pieces but only come three-quarters of the way up the pan while you are frying. Heat the oil to 160°C. Carefully lower in a few of the battered chicken pieces and fry for two to three minutes until the chicken is cooked through but only pale golden, transferring onto the cooling rack when done to allow the steam to escape. Don’t put too many pieces in at once. Continue until you have cooked all the chicken. This first fry is to cook the chicken through, so it shouldn’t have too much colour. Check for doneness.

  10. Once the first fry is done, increase the heat to 175°C and fry for the second time for two to three minutes until they’re golden and crispy. Work in batches to prevent overcrowding the pan. When the batches are ready, transfer them onto the cooling rack, so any excess oil drains off. Don’t be tempted to sit the chicken on kitchen paper as it will just steam and lose its crispiness.

  11. Put the wok or sauté pan with the sauce over a medium heat to warm up. As soon as the edges start to bubble up, toss in the fried chicken while energetically moving the pan around to glaze. In a brief moment, the sauce will coat the chicken and thicken around the crusts. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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