Sunday, September 4, 2011

Korean Spicy Chicken Barbecue (Dak Bulgogi)

After a few somewhat generic, but delicious meals, I felt like it was time to make something Asian.  So we trekked down to Chinatown after the Hester Street Fair yesterday and bought a bunch of Asian groceries.  I say "Asian groceries" because we picked up Korean ingredients, Chinese ingredients, Vietnamese ingredients, Thai ingredients and various generic ingredients that could be used in a variety of Asian cuisines.  I was kind of all over the map.  Then again I often am.  So expect a bunch of Asian meals over the course of the next week.  Right now I have plans for Vietnamese for dinner tonight and possibly for lunch tomorrow and potentially a Burmese curry for later in the week.  But Korean won out for lunch today.  There is a omni-deli near my office (I call it an omni-deli becaue it literally has everything - pizza, pasta, sushi, Korean, sandwiches, a hot food bar) that serves a really delicious spicy chicken dish that I believe is one of its best sellers.  But I rarely order it because when I go there it's usually because I am in the mood for soondubu (Korean tofu stew).  So I decided to make the spicy chicken at home.  I'm calling it dak bulgogi, although I'm not sure that this is actually a traditional dak bulgogi.  I wanted the chicken to be spicy and hearty, but still a little sweet.  So I threw together a barbecue sauce-like marinade with gochujang (a Korean fermented chili paste), garlic, ginger, sesame oil and scallions.  And I stole a random recipe idea from The Korean Kitchen by Copeland Marks and "marinated" the chicken chunks in sugar to tenderize it before throwing in the rest of the marinade ingredients.  I'm not sure if that step made any sort of difference either way, but it was fun to try something new.  The marinade resulted in a wonderfully flavorful Asian chicken barbecue dish.  It had heat, sweetness, aromatics and a striking depth of flavor from the fermented chili paste.  It was really good.  I liked the chicken wrapped up in the lettuce leaves and garnished with a sprinkle of scallions for a hit of fresh, mild onion flavor.

Recipe after the jump!

Korean Spicy Chicken Barbecue (Dak Bulgogi)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 lbs)
3 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp gochujang
2 tbsp soy
2 tbsp sesame soil
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias, separated
lettuce leaves

Toss chicken with sugar in a medium mixing bowl until well-mixed.  Cover with saran wrap and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Add gochujang, soy, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, ginger and 1 scallion.  Stir to combine.  Cover again and return to refrigerator to marinate for 1 hour.

Heat a grill pan or large saute pan over moderately high heat.  Remove chicken from marinade.  Cook chicken, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  

Serve chicken with lettuce leaves, garnished with remaining scallions.  Serve with white rice and kimchi.

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