I’m kicking off the 5th season of Pan Asian, with a quick, easy and delicious dish I’ve enjoyed at restaurants as well as at home. It’s called Dak Gogi, or Korean BBQ chicken, and I’ve love how it’s eaten almost as much as the dish itself. Once you’ve made the chicken, you slice it up into thin strips; top it with a sprinkle of chopped scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and sliced red chilies; and then place it on a lettuce leaf, atop some rice. To eat, just fold it up like a taco, and insert it into your pie-hole. Each tasty bite is crispy and refreshing from the lettuce, and you get the nice sweet, savory, spicy, smoky taste of the BBQ chicken, which is so tender and moist. What more can you ask for from a simple meal? To kick it up a notch, you can use the Ssamjung sauce (recipe below), which usually accompanies this dish, but for most Western palates (myself included), the flavor of the fermented bean paste is an acquired taste. I prefer hitting the chicken with Sriracha instead, but honestly, I don’t think you’re going to need any additional flavor enhancement for this dish.
The marinade is thick and rich, and filled with all those essential Asian flavors–soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and shallots. The addition of corn syrup–or in my case, honey–contributes the crucial sweet component, which also helps to caramelize the chicken as it grills. The secret to this dish is to marinate your meat for at least two hours, and also to baste it regularly with the remaining marinade while grilling.
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cups cooked rice
16 lettuce leaves (either Boston or romaine), washed & dried
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions (for garnish)
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh red chilies or big pinch of Korean chili threads (for garnish)
Ssamjang sauce (optional)
½ cup sesame oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup (mul yut) or honey
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
4 tsp. peeled fresh ginger, finely grated
4 tsp. minced garlic
4 teaspoons mirin
2 tsp. Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ cup thinly sliced scallions
3 Tbsp. fermented soybean paste (dwenjang)
2 ½ Tbsp. red chili paste (gochujang)
2 Tbsp. mirin
2 tsp. roasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. sesame oil
- Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a large bowl mix marinade ingredients until well-blended. Add chicken to marinade and coat thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Fire up the grill or broiler. Brush grilling surface with oil and grill chicken until it is charred on both sides.
- Remove grilled chicken to cutting board and slice into strips. Add garnishes and serve immediately.
- To eat, place a spoonful of rice on top of a lettuce leaf, and top with a piece of chicken. Wrap it up like a taco and enjoy!