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[Holly’s Korean Kitchen] Dak bulgogi, Korean chicken BBQ

Nov. 20, 2021 - 16:00 By Korea Herald
Dak bulgogi, Korean chicken BBQ (Holly Ford)
When you hear the word bulgogi, you immediately think of the famous Korean beef dish. However, bulgogi isn’t limited to beef. Try this chicken bulgogi -- Korean chicken barbecue -- and you will be surprised how wonderful chicken tastes.

Chicken bulgogi, also known as dak bulgogi, is often confused with dak galbi, another spicy Korean chicken recipe. While dak galbi is chicken and vegetables pan-fried all together with a spicy sauce in one skillet, dak bulgogi is solely chicken without any vegetables cooked over a grill. Therefore, it is called Korean chicken barbecue.

Chicken bulgogi can be made with soy sauce-based seasoning, which has its own unique savory flavor, but I like to enjoy my chicken bulgogi seasoned with gochujang, or 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 methods 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 in the middle of dining tables. It’s there to cook the meat right at your table so that you can enjoy piping hot grilled meat right away.

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 on each side, turning only once.

To broil: Put an oven shelf 12-15 centimeters below the heat source and preheat the oven to broil. Place a greased cooling rack on a large baking sheet (half sheet size) and lay on the chicken pieces without overlapping. Broil 4-5 minutes on each side. Make sure to keep an eye on your chicken so you don’t char them too much.

To pan-fry: Heat a tablespoon of oil on a nonstick 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 the chicken pieces start sticking to the skillet, wipe out with a wet paper towel.

I will admit that grilling will bring the tastiest chicken bulgogi. However, you can still enjoy delicious chicken bulgogi by broiling or pan-frying. I am using the broiling method this time (I prefer this to pan-frying). It is easy to clean up and you don’t need the extra oil that is needed for the pan-frying method.
Dak bulgogi, Korean chicken BBQ (Holly Ford)


• 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 thinly sliced, to garnish, optional

• 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds to garnish


1. Put a piece of plastic wrap over chicken thighs and pound with a tenderizer to stretch. Set aside.

2. 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 at room temperature for 15 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to broil. Place the oven shelf 12-15 centimeters below the heat source. Grease a cooling rack with oil and place on top of a large baking pan (half sheet size) lined with foil.

4. Spread the chicken pieces on the rack without overlapping. Broil 4-5 minutes 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.

5. 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.

By Holly Ford (


Hye-gyoung Ford (aka Holly) is a well-known Korean food blogger and the author of “Korean Cooking Favorites.” Born and raised in Korea, she has lived in many countries. She shares her recipes and food memories in her blog, Beyond Kimchee. - Ed.