Twigim is one of my favorite Korean street foods! This is actually something I grew up eating at home a lot too- it’s easy to make and so tasty.
Twigim is the Korean version of the more well known Japanese tempura. Like tempura, twigim is any vegetable or meat that is deep fried in a light, crispy batter. This is one of the most common street foods you will see in Korea, and it is often paired with tteokbokki or served with a dipping sauce.
I usually just use twigim garu, which is a pre packaged powder for making the batter. All you need to add to it is cold water or club soda. In my opinion this is the best way to go, but since it may not be available to everyone, I came up with a batter using ingredients everyone should have access to.
Cake flour- you can use all purpose flour, but cake flour has less gluten and is more ideal for a light & crispy batter.
Corn starch- you need a starch for added crunch
Baking powder- super important for creating a craggy coating. It also helps draw water to the surface so that it can evaporate while frying. The removal of moisture is key to getting it crispy.
Seasoning- sea salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. You can use black pepper if you don’t have white- it will just have tiny black specks in it.
Egg- beat the egg before adding to the batter.
Cold club soda-you can also just use water, but I found that club soda really helps with making the better light and airy. Just make sure it is ice cold!
The batter should be thin & runny. A thicker batter won’t be as light and crispy- more like thick and crunchy.
Tips for frying
Temperature & Time:
For me, 350ºF works well for any piece of vegetable/seafood I’m using. This is generally a safe bet for anything that doesn’t take that long to cook.
If you’re using anything that takes a long time to cook, it would be better to use lower heat (around 320ºF) for a longer period of time. This would apply to meats like beef & pork, and maybe potatoes if you’re cutting them thicker than 1 cm.
Use a thermometer!
I used to think I was skilled enough as a cook to work without a thermometer. You can get good results without one for sure but once I started using a thermometer, I never went back. Keeping the oil at a steady, consistent temperature is extremely important and the best way to do that is to monitor with a thermometer. I use the Taylor Precision Candy Thermometer for all of my frying needs!
Drizzle some batter over the pieces when frying:
You don’t have to do this, but it will help to add more craggy pieces of batter around the edges so it’s crispier when you bite into it. It’s great for added texture and looks better too.
Do not overcrowd the pan:
Only fry a few pieces at a time to avoid overcrowding. When you overcrowd a hot pan of oil, the temperature will drop too low and you’ll end up with soggy twigim. No one wants that!
Keep your oil clean by picking up the twigim crumbs:
The batter will inevitably scatter when it touches the oil, and you don’t want those pieces to burn and ruin the oil. Make sure you are cleaning the oil as you go, discarding the crumbs. You can keep the crumbs if you want to use as a crunchy garnish for something else. I use a skimming tool specifically designed for this, you can buy a similar one from Amazon here.
This is totally optional, but I recommend it for the squid. You don’t really need to double fry the other pieces, but since the squid has so much moisture, I found it super helpful to double fry it.
My favorite veggies/meat for twigim
You can use this batter to make any kind of twigim you want! My favorite pieces are Korean pepper, sweet potato, perilla leaf, and squid.
When I’m in Korea, I usually order these pieces of twigim and pair it with some tteokbokki. Gochu twigim (Korean pepper) is my absolute FAVORITE piece and it is SOOOOO GOOD dipped into tteokbokki sauce! This combo is my #1 favorite for Korean street foods.
Here are some other common pieces:
Instruction for reheating:
This batter will stay crispy for a long time. Even after a day left on the counter it was still crispy!
You can store these in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I think the best way to reheat them is to air fry at 375ºF for 3-4 minutes. You can also reheat in the oven.
Mixed Twigim (Tempura)- 튀김
- 2-3 cups neutral oil for frying
- 3/4 cup ice cold club soda or ice cold water
- 1 beaten egg
- 3/4 cup cake flour or all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 4 large Korean peppers
- 1 Korean sweet potato
- 4 perilla leaves
- 1/2 lb whole squid
- 2 tbsp cake flour or all purpose flour
- Clean and cut the squid: Remove the innards & skin, then cut the body into thin long strips. Cut the tentacles so there are 2 or 3 tentacles to each piece. You can refer to my ojingeo bokkeum recipe to learn how to clean a squid if you don't don't know how (steps 2-4).
- Peel and cut a Korean sweet potato into 1 cm thick discs.
- Pat the squid as dry as possible with paper towels, then coat in 2 tbsp cake flour or ap flour so the wet batter will stick to it.
Make the wet batter:
- First mix together cake flour, corn starch, baking powder, sea salt, garlic powder, and white pepper. Cake flour has the lowest percentage of gluten and will be the best option for a light, crispy batter. You can use all purpose flour if you don't have cake flour, but it won't be quite as light & crispy.
- Mix in 1 beaten egg and cold club soda. Mix with chopsticks but do not overmix. Little clumps are ok. Add less club soda if you want a thicker batter, more if it needs to be thinner (thinner is better for light & crispy).
- Coat the veggies & squid in the batter and shake off any excess.
- Fry at 350ºF. Immediately after adding to the fryer, drizzle over a little batter and use your chopsticks & a fine mesh strainer to hold it together and flip over. Drizzle again and flip over. A lot of the batter will scatter around the oil- that's fine just collect it with the strainer and discard so it doesn't burn. You can skip the drizzle step for the perilla leaf, it doesn't need more crunch. If you don't care for extra crunchiness around each piece of twigim, you can skip the drizzle step for all of them.
- Keep your oil clean and collect any leftover batter between each fry
- Repeat in batches (you can do 3-4 at a time). I fry the squid last to minimize any cross contamination issues. Here are the approximate frying times for each:Squid: 1-2 minutes (optional to double fry)Korean pepper: 1 minute Sweet potato: 3 minutes Perilla leaf: 30-40 seconds
- Rest on a cooling rack Note: for extra extra crunch, you can double fry! I did this for the squid and it turned out GREAT.
- Serve right away with your favorite dipping sauce or with tteokbokki (my favorite!)