Dak bulgogi or Korean BBQ chicken has never gotten as much attention and hype as the famous beef bulgogi KBBQ classic. And we are about to put an end to this unfair disregard for the amazingly delicious Korean BBQ chicken recipe.
If you are not a fan of red meat or just happen to be looking for an exciting new way to cook chicken, then the dak bulgogi recipe will not disappoint. It is a sweet and savory chicken dish with a distinctly Korean flavor and an unbelievably tender texture.
First things first:
Bulgogi is probably the first thing you associate with Korean BBQ. It's a traditional Korean grilled or roasted dish and is directly translated as "fire meat."
Yes, bulgogi is traditionally made of thin slices of beef or pork marinated in a flavorful sauce. Still, there are many more bulgogi options, and chicken bulgogi is one of them.
"Dak" means "chicken" in Korean, hence the name "Dak Bulgogi" (no actual ducks are used in this dish).
Bulgogi Sauce is the Korean marinade for meat that gives it the signature texture and flavor we love. However, there's no universal recipe for a bulgogi meat marinade.
Traditionally the meat is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ground black pepper, and Asian pear (aka red apple).
The fruit in bulgogi marinade is used to enhance the sweet flavor and to tenderize the meat. Some chefs use pineapple or kiwi instead (both powerful tenderizing agents), and the more Americanized bulgogi recipes don't contain fruit at all.
You might see some bulgogi marinades using gochujang (Korean chili paste) for an extra kick. Green onions, pureed apple, onions or pineapple, and even mushrooms (especially white button mushrooms) are also common ingredients in bulgogi marinades. And you are welcome to customize yours as well.
Chicken is more tender than red meat, and we don't use strong tenderizing ingredients in our bulgogi chicken marinade. Instead, we add some lemon juice and rice wine (aka mirin).
We use the traditional Korean bulgogi sauce base and tweak a few ingredients to make it best for chicken thighs or breasts.
If you prefer to use chicken thighs, coat the pieces in the marinade and leave them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
If you'd rather use white meat (chicken breast), then you can leave chicken pieces in bulgogi marinade for a little bit longer to make sure it tenderizes well. Don't leave it for too long a time, though; an hour is more than enough.
Korean "fire meat" is called that for a reason, so to get that authentic Korean BBQ char grill flavor and texture, you can cook the chicken over a BBQ grill.
But, this bulgogi chicken recipe will taste fantastic cooked on a cast-iron skillet or pan-fried.
If you're making this chicken using a skillet, transfer the chicken pieces together with the bulgogi marinade into your pan, and cook it over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes on each side.
Quick and easy!
This chicken turns out so flavorful and tender it doesn't need any complicated side dishes. Simply serve it over steamed white rice or lettuce leaves for a low-carb option.
You can also make Bulgogi chicken wraps (or low-carb lettuce wraps) for an easy and convenient lunch option.
But in case you would like a special side dish for your bulgogi chicken, you can try serving it alongside Korean-Style Mung Bean Sprouts (Sukju Namul), Sesame Spinach Salad (Sigeumchi Namul), or Pan Fried Tofu.