Broiled Bulgogi Chicken
When I was in Seoul, I ate so many soups and noodles, bright red from chili peppers, that on occasionally encountering food that wasn’t RED, I had to briefly remind my brain that it was still edible.
I like spicy food. And by the transitive property of spiciness, I like Korean food, too. But not all Korean food falls under the crimson category; flavors other than chili– like garlic, sesame, and soy– are just as quintessential in Korean cuisine.
This easy bulgogi variation can be made spicy, or not. Either way, it’s really all in the marinade.
Sesame oil, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and garlic make for a pretty unbeatable combination. One that can only be improved– in my opinion– by a little bit of chili powder… I don’t even use salt.
You might know of Korean bulgogi (grilled meat) mainly as either beef or spicy pork, but it works with chicken, too. Bulgogi is technically marinated meat, grilled over charcoal and an open flame (or on a grill screen or pan placed over a burner or hotplate embedded into a table). But you can get the same scorched flavors of garlic and soy sauce cooked into the meat at a high temperature just by using the broiler in your oven.
The marinade is easy to throw together, and marinating the meat– even for half an hour– gives it a depth of flavor and tenderness that I’ve found difficult to match.
This is simply my favorite way to prepare chicken at home, and one of my favorite ways ever to eat it.
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Broiled Bulgogi Chicken
(Adapted from this.)
~ 1-1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken (I use chicken thighs), or beef or pork, thickly sliced
~ 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
~ 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
~ 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
~ ½ Tbsp. cooking sake (if you have it)
~ 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
~ 4-5 scallions, diced
~ 1 tsp. ground black pepper
~ generous sprinkling of sesame seeds (optionally toasted, for just before serving)
~ pinch of salt
~ 2 tsp. sugar
~ 1-2 tsp. kochukaru (Korean chili powder), to taste ***Edit: I now often use more like 2 Tbsp., but it’s up to you!***
How to make it:
1. Cut the chicken into wide, flat slices, then place in a large bowl.
2. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and sake to the chicken, then stir. Mince garlic, grate ginger, and chop scallions, and add these as well. Add ground black pepper, and– optionally– salt, sugar, and kochukaru (chili powder).
3. Stir everything together well, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours).
4. When it’s 20 minutes until dinner time, turn on the oven’s broiler (set to “normal” or “medium”), to pre-heat the oven for 10 minutes before use.
5. Spread out the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, or in a glass baking dish, and pour the extra marinade over it. After the oven has pre-heated a bit on “broil,” place the chicken in the oven and broil for 8 minutes. (I usually stir it once around minute 5 or 6.) After 8 minutes, much of the sauce will have evaporated, and the chicken will come out tender and glazed.
***Edit: I’ve found it sometimes takes longer than 8 minutes of cooking time when using a glass or ceramic baking dish, especially if the chicken is a bit more crowded together than on a baking sheet: it can take up to 18 minutes under the broiler for all of the chicken to cook through, but the clean-up will be much easier!***
6. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve warm with short-grained white rice and a side of kimchi.
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> Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap)
> Chicken in Vinadaloo Yogurt Sauce
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