A simple and easy recipe for crispy bite-sized popcorn turkey tossed in a spicy, sweet and sticky gochujang sauce! Great as a snack or appetizer.
Thank you to Turkey Farmers of Canada for supporting this Korean Fried Popcorn Turkey recipe post. I always appreciate and am thankful for the support, which helps keep this little blog running! All opinions expressed, recipes and photos are my own.
I’m a sucker for deep fried crispy foods, especially when it’s coated with a spicy, sweet and sticky sauce. That being said, you can enjoy with this popcorn turkey without the sauce as well and have them naked! This crispy bite-sized turkey popcorn works well as an appetizer or snack because it is so easy to share – although I’ve been told that I’m not very good at sharing these and like to hoard them to myself! They can also be served as a main with a side of rice as well if you can refrain yourself from eating them before they get to the table!
It was super easy to switch up my protein and use turkey to make bite-sized popcorn turkey, especially since turkey pieces are larger in size than your average poultry, so one turkey breast is more than enough for this recipe and is very easy to work with especially when you buy it boneless.
INGREDIENTS FOR KOREAN FRIED POPCORN TURKEY
- Turkey: I like to use boneless turkey breast because it is super easy to work with, but turkey legs (dark meat) is just as delicious but you might need to de-bone it if you can’t find it boneless.
- Ginger/Garlic/Onions: Aromatics to give the batter flavor. Don’t skip out on this.
- Potato Starch: For the crispiest batter, use potato starch. If you can’t find potato starch, you can use corn starch.
- Soy Sauce: I like to use light soy sauce for this recipe.
- Tomato Paste: I like to use tomato paste instead of ketchup for this recipe because I find the tomato paste gives it a lot more umami flavour to it and doesn’t have the added sugar.
- Gochujang Paste: This is one of the main flavour bases for the sauce, and cannot be substituted. If you can’t find this at your local grocery store in the international aisle, you can find it at an Asian grocery store or online.
- Sesame Oil: This gives the sauce a bit more of a nutty flavor.
- Honey: The honey gives the sauce it’s sweet and stickiness and should not be omitted.
- Garlic: This gives the sauce a great flavor and should not be omitted.
- Soy Sauce: I like to use light soy sauce for this recipe.
- Gochugaru/Cayenne: To increase the spiciness of the sauce, I use gochugaru (Korean chili pepper). If you can’t find this you can use cayenne pepper but make sure you start off with putting half the amount first. Cayenne pepper is a lot spicier than gochugaru.
2 STEP PROCESS FOR EXTRA CRISPY TURKEY
Battering the turkey is a 2-step process.
- Step 1 – First Coat (Sticky Batter) – Mix the potato starch into the bowl with the turkey and its marinade. This step will make a sticky and flavorful batter because the marinade will be absorbed by the potato starch.
- Step 2 – Second Coat (Sealing the Flavourful Batter) – Place the rest of the potato starch on a plate and dunk each piece of sticky battered turkey into the potato starch and shake off the excess starch. This will give us the crispy coat that seals in the flavorful batter on the inside.
SPICY, SWEET & STICKY POPCORN TURKEY SAUCE
This is a super easy sauce that should be prepared ahead of time so that you can toss it in the freshly deep-fried popcorn turkey as soon as it is done.
If you like your sauce spicier, adjust it by adding more gochugaru or cayenne pepper. This sauce is also quite thick, if you prefer a slightly thinner sauce add 1-2 tablespoons of hot water to it before you toss it with the fried popcorn turkey.
DID YOU MAKE THIS KOREAN FRIED POPCORN TURKEY RECIPE?
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Korean Fried Popcorn Turkey
- 1 lb turkey (500g, cut into ½-inch bite-sized pieces - see notes)
- 2-3 cloves garlic (grated, or blended in food processor)
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger (grated, or blended in food processor)
- ½ small onion (approx. ⅓ cup, grated or blended in food processor)
- 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ cup potato starch (added into marinade mix)
- ¾ cup potato starch (used to dredge to coat the turkey)
Marinating the Turkey
- Remove the skin from the turkey and cut the turkey into ½-inch sized pieces and place it in a bowl.
- Cut the ginger into slices, peel the garlic and onions and blitz it in a food processor with the soy sauce. If you don't have a food processor, you can grate it manually. Pour the marinate into the bowl with the turkey.
- Mix the turkey with the marinate together well and place it in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour, while you start making the sauce.
Making the Sweet & Spicy Korean Sauce
- Set a frying pan over the stove and set the heat to medium low and add a bit of oil in.
- Once the oil is shimmering, add in the garlic and brown it until it is golden in colour (approximately 1-2 mins)
- Adjust the stove to low heat and add the rest of the sauce ingredients in and simmer it for 5 minutes.
- Once the sauce is done, set it aside.
Battering & Deep Frying
- Once the turkey has finished marinating, mix ½ cup of potato starch into the bowl and mix everything together well until the marinade has combined with the starch and everything is sticky.
- Add ¾ cup of potato starch onto a plate. Dunk each piece of turkey individually one by one into the potato starch until it is well coated and white. Shake of excess potato starch and set aside.
- In a deep fryer, set the temperature to 350F (180C). If you are using a pot, add at least 1 inch of oil and set the stove to medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350F (180C). To test if the oil is hot, you can stick a wooden chopstick in to see if it bubbles or throw in a grain of rice to see if it sizzles.
- Once the oil is hot, add the turkey pieces in one by one, but do not over crowd the pot. (You might need to fry these in batches.) Fry for 2 minutes and set aside on a rack or paper bag to absorb the oil.
- Once all the turkey has been fried, we are ready to do a second fry with it which will make it crispier. Add all the turkey back into the oil and fry it for 2-3 minutes.
Putting It Together
- Stir the sweet and spicy Korean sauce. If it is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to it and mix again.
- If the sauce is cold, re-heat the sauce.
- Toss the freshly fried turkey with the sweet and spicy Korean sauce and enjoy!
- You can use dark meat or white meat for this recipe, both work well. I like to remove the skin because I find it helps the batter stick better to the meat during the batter steps. If you are using bone-in turkey, debone it first and cut the pieces into ½ inch bite-sized pieces.
- To increase the spiciness of the sauce, I use gochugaru (Korean chili pepper). If you can't find this you can use cayenne pepper but make sure you start off with putting half the amount first. Cayenne pepper is a lot spicier than gochugaru.
- For the crispiest batter, use potato starch. If you can't find potato starch, you can use corn starch.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.