When people talk about Korean chicken, they almost always mean Korean fried chicken. But when I think of Korean chicken, I either think of jjim dak, the braised chicken that I made early on in my Korean Food Project, or dak galbi, which is a dish of stir-fried, red pepper-flavored chunks of chicken. Dak galbi is one of my favorite things to eat in Korea partly because it’s cheap (I love a food bargain) and partly because it’s fun — you cook the chicken directly on your table and wear little aprons to protect your clothes from grease and red pepper sauce. But, mostly, I love dak galbi because it’s delicious.
Why am I going on about dak galbi in a recipe that is not for dak galbi? Since dak galbi is cheap food (not quite street food; more like street-side food) it has little presence outside Korea. That means there are few dak galbi restaurants in the U.S. and few dak galbi recipes in English. The closest thing I could find was this recipe for dak gui (spicy grilled chicken). So, when I have a craving for dak galbi, I will cook dak gui instead.
The cool thing about this particular dak gui recipe is that you can use the same marinade to make dak sanjeok (spicy grilled chicken kebabs). Here are the recipes for both:
Dak Gui (Spicy Grilled Chicken) — 닭구이 & 닭산적
- 4 boneless and skinless chicken breast halves, 6 to 8 oz. each
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce*
- 1/3 c. rice wine or vermouth
- 3 green onion or scallion stalks, finely minced
- 8 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. Korean red pepper powder**
- salt and pepper
*To make this recipe gluten free, I used San-J Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (available at Whole Foods or for $6.69 + shipping on Amazon.com.)
**You can find plastic bags of Korean red pepper powder (called gochugaru in Korean) at Asian grocery stores or on Amazon.com for about $13 a pound. The consistency is between a coarse powder and a fine flake, so gochugaru is sometimes called red pepper powder or hot pepper powder and sometimes called red chili flakes. The photos above show a container of gochugaru and a bowl of the powder.
- Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Flatten with a wooden mallet, until each piece is about 1.5x its original size.
- In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and mix well.
- Place the chicken breasts in a large bowl and spoon the marinade over each piece.
- Wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Either grill the chicken on a grill (~6 minutes per side); broil it (~4 minutes per side) or fry it in a pan (~3 minutes per side).
- Cut the chicken diagonally into thin slices and serve.
Dak Sanjeok (Spicy Grilled Chicken Kebabs) — 닭산적
This recipe uses the same marinade as the recipe above, but for chicken skewers/kebabs. It is somewhat similar to sanjeok or beef skewers/kebabs, which I made a few weeks ago.
- 4 chicken breast halves, about 6 to 8 oz each, boned and skinned
- 24 green onion or scallion stalks, white and pale green part only
- 12 medium oyster mushrooms or other mushrooms such as portobello or shiitake, cut into 24 pieces
- 6 hot red Korean peppers or 1 red bell pepper
- 6 hot green Korean peppers or jalapeno peppers, seeded, de-ribbed and cut into 24 strips, each 3 inches long
- Cut chicken into 36 strips, each 1/8-inch thick.
- Cut green onions/scallions into 3-inch pieces.
- Cut red pepper(s) into 24 strips, each 3 inches long, and de-seed/de-rib, (if relevant)
- Cut green pepper(s) into 24 strips, each 3 inches long, and de-seed/de-rib, (if relevant)
- Thread chicken and vegetable pieces onto skewers to make 12 skewers total.
- Place 6 skewers in a pan in a single layer and spoon over half of marinade.
- Lay other 6 skewers on top of first layer and spoon remaining marinade over this second layer.
- Marinate in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Grill (~ 6 minutes per side) or broil skewers (~5 minutes per side).