Asian Recipes/ Dinner/ Recipes

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi – Dak Bulgogi

23/02/2022

Chicken bulgogi (dak bulgogi) is one of the easiest Korean BBQ style dishes you can make at home. Just marinate and fry! Think tender chicken thighs coated in a spicy gochujang based sauce and fried to juicy perfection in 15 minutes. Ready to turn up the heat?

Chicken bulgogi on a bed of perilla leaves.

Why We Love This

You may be familiar with beef bulgogi, but did you know it’s equally delicious with chicken? 

The huge flavour from the spicy chicken bulgogi marinade means this dish works perfectly as a weeknight dinner or as the centrepiece to a Korean BBQ feast. But it’s equally as popular to use a soy based bulgogi sauce for the marinade instead if you prefer.

The recipe itself is also super adaptable – see our variations section below for more tasty ideas to make it your own.

Chicken bulgogi with spoon and chopsticks ready to eat.

What is Chicken Bulgogi? 

Dak bulgogi / 닭 불고기 is a Korean barbecue chicken dish. The name consists of the words dak (chicken) + bul (fire) and gogi (meat), and while today’s recipe is made with chicken, the term bulgogi can refer to any meat cooked over a fire or open grill. 

This version is cooked on a skillet / frying pan to keep it super easy to cook year round in your kitchen rather than firing up your BBQ grill outside. It also makes for easy clean up afterwards, especially if you’re using a non-stick frying pan or skillet!

Some chicken bulgogi recipes use chicken breast, Cheongsong style, which is where the chicken is chopped finely as a mince, then cooked into one big pancake!

What You’ll Need

  • Chicken – We use chicken thighs as they are extra juicy once marinated and cooked. Sub with chicken breast to make it Cheongsong style. Or go for thin slices of beef, pork (or pork belly) or even tofu.
  • Soy Sauce – We use regular soy sauce, but if you have light or dark on hand just use it. It may affect the final flavour slightly but will still taste delicious. 
  • Rice Wine – You can sometimes find it in regular supermarkets, otherwise head to your nearest Asian grocer or online. If you don’t have it, sub with mirin or just leave it out.
  • Gochugaru – Aka Korean red pepper flakes. Find it at Asian grocers and online. These seem to have more flavour and less heat than regular chilli flakes. To substitute, use half the amount of cayenne pepper or regular chilli powder.
  • Gochujang – This Korean Korean hot pepper paste is usually found in a red tub at your Asian supermarket or online. Read more about gochujang here.
  • Honey – Adds sweetness and sticky glaze to the sauce. Sub with brown sugar, maple syrup, or Korean rice syrup for extra shine. 
  • Cornstarch – This thickens the sauce and helps it stick to the chicken pieces. Sub with all purpose flour or potato starch.
  • Onion, Garlic & Ginger – Chopped finely to use in the marinade. This sets a nice base of savoury flavour to accompany the spice from the gochujang and gochugaru. Fresh is always best! You can also omit if you prefer all the heat.
  • Spring Onion / Green Onion – Finely chop the white/light green parts to use in the marinade, and thinly slice the green parts into strips to use as a garnish. If you dunk the green strips in cold water, they’ll curl up into beautiful spirals.
  • Sesame Oil – Use a high quality store-bought oil for the best flavour.  Or make your own sesame infused oil at home.
  • Perilla Leaves – This dish is often served on a bed of thinly sliced perilla leaves, and the peppery flavour is a great contrast to the spicy heat in the chicken. We used ceylon spinach at home because perilla is harder to source, and ceylon spinach leaves are roughly the same side with a nice earthy flavour. Use what you have on hand, or just leave it out.
Ingredients laid out to make dak bulgogi.

How to make Korean BBQ Dak Bulgogi:

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl then add in your marinade ingredients (onion, spring onion, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, gochugaru, gochujang, honey, cornstarch, sesame oil and ginger). 
  2. Mix everything together until combined and the chicken is coated well. Pop a silicone lid over the top and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes (up to overnight).
  3. Cut the green portions of the spring onions in half, then slice thinly lengthways and place the strips into a small container of water. This will help curl them for your garnish. Alternatively, you can just slice them small and sprinkle over the top – it’s up to you!
  4. Pour the vegetable oil into a large frying pan or skillet over a medium high heat. Add in your marinated chicken and spread it right out to the edges. Allow to cook for a few minutes before flipping all the chicken pieces over. Keep frying for another few minutes, then flip again. Note: Avoiding moving the chicken around too much helps the meat cook through and the sauce to thicken. Fry for another 5 or so minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. To serve, place the perilla / spinach strips on the bottom of a plate and layer with the chicken. Top with your spring onion curls and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, then dig in! Alternatively, serve with lettuce and rice to make cups or alongside a few Korean banchan (side dishes) such as pickled onion, pickled garlic or braised potatoes!

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Non Stick – For easy cleanup, be sure to use a non-stick frying pan / skillet.
  • Avoid Stewing – Make sure your pan is wide enough so your chicken has plenty of space to cook evenly without stewing in the pan. Cook in batches if you only have a small pan.
  • Marinating Time – Marinate for at least 30 mins for a quick bulgogi, or overnight for even more flavour!
  • Grilling or BBQing Instead? – Use larger strips of chicken so they hold their shape on the grill, and marinate for 30 mins longer.
  • Don’t Skip the Spring Onions – They really go so well with the chicken and balance the spicy gochujang sauce beautifully!

FAQs

What should I serve with chicken bulgogi?

It’s often served on a bed of finely sliced perilla leaves (sub with spinach leaves) or sliced white onion, topped with finely sliced leek or spring onion leaves and garnished with sesame seeds.

Why not serve it up with some tasty pickled garlic, kimchi and/or pickled daikon on the side? You could even enjoy it on top of a rice bowl, over noodles with some sauteed veggies, or alongside a plate of gamja jorim braised potatoes.

What’s the best way to store once cooked?

While Korean BBQ chicken is best enjoyed hot and freshly cooked, you can store leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the fridge or 2-3 months in the freezer. It warms up just as good in the microwave, or pop it back in a frying pan over low heat to gently warm through and not overcook the sauce.

Variations

  • Add Mushrooms – Add thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms for extra umami, or sub with your favourite Asian mushrooms like enoki, shimeji or oyster.
  • Extra Spicy – Double the gochujang and/or gochugaru chilli flakes for extra heat!
  • Make it Cheesy – Add your favourite grated cheese over the top. Option to cover with the lid and steam in the pan, or broil for a minute or two to make it golden brown and extra melty!
  • Protein – Swap the chicken for pork, salmon or tuna steaks diced into chunks. Or use firm tofu for a vegetarian version.
  • Shredded Chicken – For a different texture, first poach the chicken in boiling water until cooked through, then use two forks to shred it into fine slivers. Since the chicken is already cooked, it won’t need to cook as long in the frying pan, just until the sauce has thickened and turned glossy.
  • Cheongsong Style – Chop chicken finely before adding the marinade.  Press out in a frying pan into a pancake shape. Option to add cheese on top and cover with the lid to steam through and melt the cheese. 
  • Add Veggies – Add chopped cabbage, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, capsicum / bell pepper or even homemade kimchi for extra veg, more similar to dak galbi stir fry.
  • Lettuce Cups or Summer Rolls – Wrap the chicken in lettuce, perilla leaf or large spinach leaves, along with a scoop of rice, fresh garlic or sliced onion, and a spoonful of ssamjang sauce. Or use the cooked chicken as a filling in rice paper rolls or hand rolled sushi.
  • Bulgogi Skewers – Thread the marinated meat onto skewers, then grill over an open flame for extra deliciousness.
Plate of chicken bulgogi on a bed of spinach.

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★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and a star rating below!

Spicy dak bulgogi topped with sesame and spring onion.

Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi – Dak Bulgogi

Chicken bulgogi (dak bulgogi) is one of the easiest Korean BBQ style dishes you can make at home. Just marinate and fry! Think tender chicken thighs coated in a spicy gochujang based sauce and fried to juicy perfection in 15 minutes. Ready to turn up the heat?
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Korean
Servings: 4 Serves
Calories: 341kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $12

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 500 g chicken thighs 1 lb, boneless skinless chicken pieces sliced into small strips or minced
  • 2 spring onion / green onion green sections only to garnish (white sections in marinade)
  • ½ tbsp sesame seeds to garnish
  • 6 perilla leaves sliced into strips. Sub spinach leaves, lettuce, rice or omit.
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

For the marinade

Instructions

  • Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl then add in your marinade ingredients (onion, spring onion, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, gochugaru, gochujang, honey, cornstarch, sesame oil and ginger).
    500 g chicken thighs, 1/2 onion, 2 spring onion / green onion, 2 garlic, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine, 1 tbsp Korean hot pepper flakes / gochugaru, 1 tbsp Korean hot pepper paste / gochujang, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tsp sesame oil, ½ tsp ginger
  • Mix everything together until combined and the chicken is coated well. Pop a silicone lid over the top and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes (up to overnight).
  • Cut the green portions of the spring onions in half, then slice thinly lengthways and place the strips into a small container of water. This will help curl them for your garnish. Alternatively, you can just slice them small and sprinkle over the top – it’s up to you!
    2 spring onion / green onion
  • Pour the vegetable oil into a large frying pan or skillet over a medium high heat. Add in your marinated chicken and spread it right out to the edges. Allow to cook for a few minutes before flipping all the chicken pieces over. Keep frying for another few minutes, then flip again. Note: Avoiding moving the chicken around too much helps the meat cook through and the sauce to thicken. Fry for another 5 or so minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • To serve, place the perilla / spinach strips on the bottom of a plate and layer with the chicken. Top with your spring onion curls and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, then dig in! Alternatively, serve with lettuce and rice to make cups or alongside a few Korean banchan (side dishes) such as pickled onion, pickled garlic or braised potatoes!
    2 spring onion / green onion, 6 perilla leaves, ½ tbsp sesame seeds

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Non Stick – For easy cleanup, be sure to use a non-stick frying pan / skillet.
  • Avoid Stewing – Make sure your pan is wide enough so your chicken has plenty of space to cook evenly without stewing in the pan. Cook in batches if you only have a small pan.
  • Marinating Time – Marinate for at least 30 mins for a quick bulgogi, or overnight for even more flavour!
  • Grilling or BBQing Instead? – Use larger strips of chicken so they hold their shape on the grill, and marinate for 30 mins longer.
  • Don’t Skip the Spring Onions – They really go so well with the chicken and balance the spicy gochujang sauce beautifully!
  • Add Mushrooms – Add thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms for extra umami, or sub with your favourite Asian mushrooms like enoki, shimeji or oyster.
  • Extra Spicy – Double the gochujang and/or gochugaru chilli flakes for extra heat!
  • Make it Cheesy – Add your favourite grated cheese over the top. Option to cover with the lid and steam in the pan, or broil for a minute or two to make it golden brown and extra melty!
  • Protein – Swap the chicken for pork, salmon or tuna steaks diced into chunks. Or use firm tofu for a vegetarian version.
  • Shredded Chicken – For a different texture, first poach the chicken in boiling water until cooked through, then use two forks to shred it into fine slivers. Since the chicken is already cooked, it won’t need to cook as long in the frying pan, just until the sauce has thickened and turned glossy.
  • Cheongsong Style – Chop chicken finely before adding the marinade.  Press out in a frying pan into a pancake shape. Option to add cheese on top and cover with the lid to steam through and melt the cheese. 
  • Add Veggies – Add chopped cabbage, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, capsicum / bell pepper or even homemade kimchi for extra veg, more similar to dak galbi stir fry.
  • Lettuce Cups or Summer Rolls – Wrap the chicken in lettuce, perilla leaf or large spinach leaves, along with a scoop of rice, fresh garlic or sliced onion, and a spoonful of ssamjang sauce. Or use the cooked chicken as a filling in rice paper rolls or hand rolled sushi.
  • Bulgogi Skewers – Thread the marinated meat onto skewers, then grill over an open flame for extra deliciousness.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi – Dak Bulgogi
Amount per Serving
Calories
341
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
23
g
35
%
Saturated Fat
 
6
g
38
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
9
g
Cholesterol
 
123
mg
41
%
Sodium
 
385
mg
17
%
Potassium
 
388
mg
11
%
Carbohydrates
 
12
g
4
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
6
g
7
%
Protein
 
22
g
44
%
Vitamin A
 
819
IU
16
%
Vitamin C
 
4
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
43
mg
4
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Spicy Korean BBQ Chicken Bulgogi - Dak Bulgogi

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