A recipe for Dak Bulgogi (닭불고기, Korean Soy-Marinated Chicken)! Slices of chicken thighs are coated in a sweet and salty soy marinade for a few hours, then grilled for an easy and flavor-packed meal.
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While generally associated with beef, this Dak Bulgogi features chicken (Dak,닭)! Grated Korean pear, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, mirin, sesame oil, gochugaru (red pepper flakes), and black pepper are whisked together in a bowl before adding the chicken slices and tossing to coat. The mixture is refrigerated for at least 3 hours and up to (best) overnight, then grilled in a hot pan until cooked through and lightly charred.
Serve the Chicken Bulgogi immediately with steamed white rice, banchan (an assortment of small side dishes) or a green salad, and a sprinkling of sliced green onions and sesame seeds. You can also wrap the chicken in lettuce leaves with the rice and ssamjang (a spicy condiment).
I personally prefer making the Dak Bulgogi with chicken thighs, but you can also swap for chicken breasts. Just be careful not to overcook the meat. Want to add a bit of heat? Mix in a couple tablespoons or more to taste of gochujang (red chili paste) to the marinade.
When grilling the chicken, adjust the temperature as needed between medium and medium-high. You want to get a nice color, while still cooking the chicken thoroughly. The honey and brown sugar in the marinade will cause the surface to burn more easily. Arrange the chicken in a single layer without overcrowding and grill in batches. While I generally cook the chicken on an indoor grill pan, you can also toss the pieces with a splash or two of the marinade in an oiled skillet over medium heat until cooked through.
Gochugaru (고추가루) is a hot Korean red chili powder ground either coarse or fine depending on the use. The best gochugaru is made from red chili peppers that have been dried in the sunlight. It can be located in markets with Korean ingredients and on Amazon: Korean Chile Flakes (Gochugaru). I haven’t attempted it yet, but you can even make your own by trimming and drying Korean red chilies then grinding to the desired texture. I store opened gochugaru in the freezer to keep it fresh longer and prevent mold.
The Korean pear (Bae 배, Asian pear) is a large brown pear with a crisp and juicy texture. They bruise easily, so be careful with storage (in a cool, dry place). Choose ripe pears by their strong, sweet smell and avoid those that are bruised and soft. I have been able to find them in larger grocery stores and the produce section of markets with East Asian ingredients.
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Dak Bulgogi (Korean Soy-Marinated Chicken) Recipe
Adapted from OliviaJasonKim
Dak Bulgogi (Korean Soy-Marinated Chicken)
- 1/2 Korean pear peeled and grated
- 1/2 medium onion peeled and grated
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon gochugaru Korean red pepper powder
- Large pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds (1 kg) boneless chicken thighs cut into 2 in. x 1 in. strips (5 cm x 2.5 cm)
- Sesame seeds
- Thinly sliced green onions
- Steamed white rice
- In a large bowl, whisk together the pear, onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, mirin, sesame oil, gochugaru, and black pepper until well blended.
- Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, combining to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator at least 3-6 hours to overnight.
- Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat and lightly grease. Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange in batches in a single layer across the hot pan. Grill on each side until cooked through with golden grill marks, about 3-5 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining chicken, adjusting the temperature between medium and medium-high as needed to keep the chicken from burning.
- Serve immediately with rice and garnished with sesame seeds and green onions.