Dak Bulgogi (Korean Style Spicy Chicken BBQ) Kebabs

Since we are now entering grilling season, and as we're going into a weekend, I thought it a perfect time to transfer this recipe over. Hope you enjoy. :)

Dak bulgogi (DAHK BOOLgohgi), dak meaning chicken and bulgogi meaning bbq or grilled meat, is usually spicy-hot whereas the beef kind isn't. But the base of the marinade is quite similar. I like to use thigh meat because the texture, flavor and fat content holds up better to the marinade than breast meat. This recipe is specifically for kebabs, but you could certainly use whole pieces of boneless thigh meat or even the entire thigh if you like, and cooking times will of course increase.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big advocate of overnight marinating. There are very few proteins that won't get a cured texture under the saltiness of most marinades if left to sit in them too long, though fattier cuts do hold up better. The marinating point of diminishing returns is even earlier on meat that's cut kebab-size (1" to 1.5" cubes). Ideally, I would let this marinate for an hour or two at most. It won't be awful if you go longer, but the meat will begin to feel, well, hammy.

Dal Bulgogi Kebabs (Korean Style Spicy Chicken BBQ) 
Makes about 12 kebabs
Serves 4-ish

- 12 to 15 bamboo skewers soaked in water for at least an hour before they go on the grill

- 2 to 2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into roughly 1.5-inch *cubes* (to the extent that you can cut chicken thigh meat into cubes, which is to say not really)

If you can't find the boneless, skinless meat, just get a roughly 3.5 pound tray of chicken thighs, remove the skin and trim the meat off as close to the bone as possible. I did, and made my weekly chicken stock from the scraps (only I left a little extra meat around the bone to feed Honeydew).

- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (or you could use about 1/4 teaspoon dry ginger powder)
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup gochoojahng (Korean red chili paste) aka gochujang (you can substitute with sriracha - not quite the same, but you'll get a tasty result)
- 1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1.5 Tablespoons neutral oil (like vegetable, canola, grapeseed)

- 1 large onion, cut into 1" pieces for skewering and tossed with 2 teaspoonfuls of oil

1) In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the onion, making sure to incorporate all of them thoroughly.

2) Cover the bowl and set in the fridge to marinate (about 1 hour ideally, and not more than 2). Remember to take the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to grill.

If you're using a charcoal grill, start your coals about 20 to 25 minutes before you want to grill. You want a gentle, medium low heat over which to cook these kebabs.

If gas, just pre-heat your grill to medium low 5 to 7 minutes before cooking.

3) Skewer your kebabs so they look like this:

6 single layers of onion with 5 roughly 1" layers of chicken skewered between them. As you've probably discovered by now, it's a little challenging to get 1" cubes of meat from chicken thighs, but you generally want a 1" thickness of meat between veg, so you might have to add odd pieces of chicken to the bigger ones to achieve this thickness.

I used only onions primarily because I think it tastes simple and delicious this way. I don't think other traditional kebab vegetables go as well with this recipe, but that's a personal preference. Oh! I do think small button mushrooms work well...

4) Over a medium low grill, cook the kebabs  about 15 minutes, covered, turning them every 5 minutes.

They should look like this close up:

A little spicy, slightly sweet yet savory and super tasty with some plain steamed rice. (Though I know some of y'all love to douse your steamed rice with soy sauce... :P)

This marinade, by the way, also works for dweji bulgogi, which is spicy Korean style pork BBQ, and is especially delicious when made with thinly sliced pork belly. I often leave the ginger out when I make that, though.

Enjoy. :)




Popular Posts