Spicy Korean chicken is flavored with gochujang, a fermented red chile paste that is spicy and full of umami. This Korean chicken recipe is easy to make either on the barbecue grill or in a grill pan on the stovetop.
I got the inspiration for this spicy Korean chicken recipe from three women I met at a hippie hot springs resort in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They were two thirty-something sisters and their mother, who was visiting from Korea. Three times a day they would descend on the lodge’s communal kitchen, filling the building with mouthwatering smells. This spicy and addictive gochujang chicken is my attempt at replicating the dishes they turned out.
An Easy 6-Ingredient Marinade
The marinade is easy to make with just a few ingredients:
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Sliced onions
- Minced garlic
With only six ingredients, the marinade takes less than five minutes. The chicken can marinate for just 30 minutes, or as long as 8 hours. Grill the chicken on the barbecue, cook it in a grill pan on the stovetop, or even bake it in the oven.
Gochujang Chicken in Crisp Lettuce Leaves with Herbs and Chiles
Slice the chicken into strips and serve them on a platter with fresh herbs (I usually use mint, but you can add or substitute other herbs like basil or cilantro) and sliced red chiles. Bundle the chicken, herbs, and chilies into crisp lettuce leaves and eat the wraps with your hands.
You can buy gochujang at Korean or Asian markets or order it online. If you like even more of a kick, add a tablespoon or more of Korean red pepper flakes.
Pass a dish of gochujang thinned out with a bit of sesame oil at the table. Or offer a dish of ssamjang, a Korean dipping sauce made with gochujang, sesame oil, and other ingredients.
I also love gochujang stirred into a bowl of Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric!
- 1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons gochujang (fermented red pepper paste)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- For serving
- 1 head butter lettuce or other wide-leafed lettuce, leaves separated but kept whole
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 to 3 hot red chilies, thinly sliced
- Ssamjang or additional gochujang thinned with a bit of sesame oil
- In a large bowl, combine the onion, garlic, soy sauce, gochujang, honey, and sesame oil and stir to mix well.
- Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
- Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade if desired. Add the chicken and cook until browned on the outside and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
- Remove from the grill and let stand for 5 minutes.
- If you reserved the marinade, put it (including the onions) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let boil for at least 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken a bit.
- Slice the chicken pieces into strips and transfer them to a platter. Drizzle the reduced marinade over the top, if using.
- Serve with the lettuce leaves, mint, chilies, and dipping sauce.
Amount Per Serving Calories 387 Total Fat 16g Saturated Fat 4g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 11g Cholesterol 208mg Sodium 2069mg Carbohydrates 20g Fiber 1g Sugar 14g Protein 44g