Chicken bulgogi is an easy and quick Korean dish to prepare on a busy weeknight. You can grill this slightly sweet and savory chicken dish, broil it in the oven, or pan-fry it.
If you hear the word, Bulgogi, you immediately think of the famous Korean beef. However, Bulgogi doesn’t limit on the beef. Try this Chicken bulgogi, the Korean chicken BBQ, and you will be surprised how wonderful chicken tastes.
Chicken bulgogi (aka Dak-bulgogi, 닭불고기) is often confused with dak-galbi (닭갈비), another spicy Korean chicken dish. While dak-galbi is a more of chicken and vegetables pan-fried all together with a spicy sauce in one skillet, dak-bulgogi is solely chicken without any vegetables, and cooked over a grill. Therefore it is called Korean chicken BBQ.
Chicken Bulgogi can be made with soy sauce based seasoning, which has its own unique savory flavor, but I often like to enjoy my chicken bulgogi seasoned with gochujang (Korean chili paste). Typically, boneless skinless chicken thigh meat is preferred over chicken breast. Traditionally chicken bulgogi is cooked over a grill, but you can also use other cooking method; such as broiling or pan-frying.
What Does Bulgogi Mean?
“Bul” means fire and “gogi” means meat in Korean. As the name explains, chicken bulgogi means chicken meat cooked over a fire. Now you can understand why so many Korean restaurants have an open grill on the middle of each serving table. It’s there to cook the meat right at your table so that you can enjoy popping hot grilled meat right away. Bulgogi is unique to the Korean food culture that you don’t find it elsewhere.
Other Cooking Methods For Chicken Bulgogi
To grill; brush the hot grill grates with oil and lay the chicken on top. Grill for 3-4 minutes each side turning only once.
To broil; Put an oven shelving at 5-6 inch below the heat source, preheat the oven to broil. Place a greased cooling rack on a large baking sheet (half sheet size), lay the chicken pieces without overlapping. Broil 4-5 minutes on each side. Make sure to keep an eye on your chicken so that you don’t char them too much.
To pan-fry; heat a tablespoon of oil on a non-stick surface skillet over high heat, add chicken pieces without crowding the space. You might need to pan-fry chicken in batches. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until chicken is fully cooked. If the sauce burns and start sticking to the skillet, wipe out with a wet kitchen paper.
I will admit that grilling will bring the most tasting chicken Bulgogi. However, you can still enjoy the delicious chicken Bulgogi through broiling or pan-frying. I am using the broiling method this time (I prefer over pan-frying). Easy clean up and you don’t need the extra oil that is needed for pan-frying method.
Key Ingredients You Need
- boneless skinless chicken thigh
- gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- gochugaru (Korean chili flakes), optional
- soy sauce
- light brown sugar
- Korean corn syrup (or plain corn syrup)
- ginger puree
- sesame oil
If you don’t mind the extra spicy kick, I suggest to add a little bit of Korean chili flakes (gochugaru). It does add intensive “fire” flavor to the dish.
Korean corn syrup (mulyut or oligo syrup) will adds shine to the dish and makes chicken look more scrumptious.
How to make Chicken Bulgogi
Pound chicken thigh with a meat hammer. This will tenderize chicken and help cook the chicken faster and more even.
Mix all the seasoning ingredients in a large mixing bowl to make the paste.
Add chicken and toss well to coat the seasoning to the chicken. I recommend to let it sit in a room temperature for 15 minutes while you are preheating the oven to broil.
Grease a cooling rack and place it on a large baking sheet (lined with piece of foil for easy clean up). Put chicken pieces and broil for 4-5 minute per each side until the surface is slightly charred and chicken is fully cooked.
The oven shelving should be about 5-6 inch below the heat source. Watch carefully so that you don’t char the chicken too much.
Cut up the chicken into a bite size chunks for easy serving. Transfer on a serving dish and garnish with perilla leaves or chopped green onion.
Serving with rice is most typical, with or without the lettuce wrap. It will make a great rice bowl dish with a simple vegetable or salad on the side. I also think it goes well with noodle dishes as well.
I recommend to garnish your chicken bulgogi with Perilla leaves (aka kkatnip). Kkatnip is a fragrant Korean herb; cross between basil and mint, and pairs well with any gochujang flavored dish. It is easily found in most of Korean or Asian grocery stores.
Chicken bulgogi tastes best when it’s hot, so I recommend to finish it off at the time of serving. However, any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Serve it as chilled or reheat in a microwave for 45-60 minutes. Freezing is not recommended.
More Korean Chicken Dishes
- Spicy Korean Chicken Soup Recipe
- Korean Honey Garlic Chicken Wings
- Crispy Korean Chicken Nuggets, Dakgangjeong
- Spicy Korean Chicken Stew (Dakdoritang)
- Dak Galbi
Chicken Bulgogi (Korean Chicken BBQ)
- 6 chicken thighs boneless & skinless
- 3 tbsp Korean chili paste (gochujang)
- 1 tbsp Korean chili flakes (gochugaru) optional
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1-2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp ginger puree
- 1 tbsp Korean corn syrup (mulyeot)
- 1 tbsp sweet rice wine (mirim) optional
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 5-6 Korean perilla leaves (kkatnip) thinly sliced, to garnish, optional
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds to garnish
- Out a piece of plastic wrap over chicken thighs and pound with a meat hammer to stretch and tenderize; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together gochujang, gochugaru (if using), soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, corn syrup, rice wine, sesame oil, and pepper. Add the chicken thighs and toss together to coat evenly. Let the chicken rest on a room temperature for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to broil; place an oven shelving to 5-6 inch below the heat source. Grease a cooling rack with a spray oil and place on top of a large baking pan (half sheet size) lined with foil.
- Spread the chicken pieces on the rack without overlapping. Broil 4-5 minute or until the surface is slightly charred. Turn the chicken to the other side and broil for another 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Keep an eye on the chicken so that you don't char them too much.
- Cut the chicken thighs into a bite size chunks and place in a serving dish. Garnish with thinly sliced perilla leaves and toasted sesame seeds. Serve hot with rice.