ANCHORAGE -

Kim Sunee is the kind of person who offers you champagne when you walk in her home and suggests you make fried chicken together. In other words, she's awesome.

Sunee is the author of the national bestseller, “Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home.” She's just come out with a cookbook: “A Mouthful of Stars: A Constellation of Favorite Recipes.”

Sunee also lived in Europe for 10 years before she became the editor at Southern Living magazine. She's now an Alaskan -- you'll probably meet her at the South Anchorage Farmer's Market one day.

Sunee recently had us over to her home to show us how to make one of the recipes from her new cookbook. It quickly turned into a party, with a dozen or more friends and neighbors coming over to eat. That's the thing about great food, it brings people together.

Spicy Fried Chicken
Serves 4 to 6

Koreans and Southerners know how to fry up a chicken. If you're not into spicy fried chicken, just leave off the Korean Fried Chicken Sauce. The seasonings are up to you; some people like paprika for flavor and color, and I love the combination of hot sauce, ground cayenne, and black pepper. At the Seafood and Chicken Box in Alabama, somehow their fried chicken literally sparkles. John Floyd, my former editor at Southern Living, says there has been lots of speculation over the years about how they do it, but no one knows the real secret. Another friend of mine swears there's sparkling water in the batter. To me, it looks like sugar; to get that same sparkle, I like to top the hot fried chicken with flaky Maldon sea salt, crushed a bit in my hands before adding.

Korean Fried Chicken Sauce
3 to 4 green onions, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small fresh jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon tamari
1 tablespoon sriracha or gochugaru (coarse Korean red chile powder)

Spicy Fried Chicken
2 cups buttermilk, shaken
2 to 3 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco, Crystal, or Frank's RedHot
1½ tablespoons fine sea salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 (3- to 3½-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 3 pounds chicken wings, tips removed and wings separated at the joints
Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 To make the fried chicken sauce, place all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined. Cover and set aside; no need to refrigerate if using right away.

2 Place the buttermilk, hot sauce, 1 tablespoon of the salt, and the brown sugar in a bowl; stir to combine. Arrange the chicken in a shallow glass dish or a resealable heavy-duty plastic bag and cover with the buttermilk mixture. Cover or seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

3 Fill a large cast-iron skillet about ½ inch deep with oil and heat to 345°F. If you don't have a candy/deep-fry thermometer, here are some tips: The oil should start to shimmer but not smoke, or add a small crust of bread to test the oil; it should sizzle and float and start to fry. Place a rack over a sheet pan.

4 Drain the chicken in a colander; discard the buttermilk marinade. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch with the remaining ½ tablespoon salt, the cayenne, and the black pepper; stir well to combine. Dredge the chicken pieces thoroughly in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess flour.

5 When the oil is hot, place the chicken pieces skin side down into the hot oil, being careful not to crowd the skillet. Cook until golden brown on one side, 8 to 10 minutes. If the chicken is browning too quickly, turn the pieces or decrease the heat slightly. Turn the chicken and fry the other side until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more. The chicken is done when the thigh juices run clear and a thermometer inserted in the center without touching bone reaches 175°F; it will continue to cook out of the fryer. Place the cooked chicken on the rack set over the sheet pan to drain. Sprinkle lightly with more salt, if you like, hot out of the fryer. Toss the chicken in the sauce while it's hot. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

From “A Mouthful of Stars: A Constellation of Favorite Recipes” from My World Travels by Kim Sunée / Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC