Pan Seared Korean Gochujang Chicken
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Korean food, which was the lesser known hidden gem of Asian cuisine 20 years ago, has made a huge impact on American palettes over the last decade. People are more open to trying foods they’d never heard of before like Kimchi, Bulgogi and Bibimbap thanks to chefs like David Chang (Momofuku) and Edward Lee (Milkwood, 610 Magnolia).
Now, I am nowhere near the authority of Korean cuisine, I am not Korean and I do not have a training or background on Korean food…I just love the hell out of it so I crave it, like, all the damn time. And, if you think about it, most Asian and East Asian cultures share a love for A. fermented and sour foods and B. Rice based dishes. They are cheap, delicious, and relatively good for you! Being Middle Easter, this is no foreign concept to me.
This is where Gochujang Chicken comes in… it has all the flavor and taste that I want - something you never knew you wanted until you try it. Sweet, spicy, tangy… delicious. Gochujang is a fermented red chili paste that is used to add a rich, savory, semi-sweet umami burst to almost anything and chicken is the star of this Gochujang recipe. I went a mostly traditional and simple route on this so that you can easily make this at home using ingredients you probably already have, with the exception of Gochujang paste, which is now much easier to find than ever! Try this one or shop in one of your favorite Asian supermarkets or local groceries that sell global spices and ingredients.
I love making a Korean spread when I have a couple guests coming over for dinner! It’s fun, interactive and something different that your guests can enjoy and experiement with. With all the awesome side dishes to accompany it and how quickly it all comes together, you can prep almost everything for this meal a day ahead and just cook the chicken right before your guests arrive. I used skin-on, boneless chicken thighs for this recipe but you can use whatever cut of chicken you prefer. I will recommend avoiding boring, flavorless chicken breast in favor of darker chicken cuts! Don’t be scared, I have faith in you and your tastebuds will thank you.
Okay, so, you’ll get our chicken recipe in just two shakes. However, we need to talk about ‘Banchan’, or, the side dishes that will accompany your Gochujang Chicken. This meal isn’t properly Korean without Banchan! Side dishes like sauteed broccoli with garlic and sesame, different bowls of Kimchi, cucumber salad and rice are essential for helping this meal come together perfectly! You won’t want to miss out on having these dishes with your meal… they make it AH-MAZING. And, again, you could prep almost all of these a day ahead. Easy, peasy.
Are you ready to make an amazing Korean feast?
Korean Gochujang Chicken
Prep - 1 hour - (can be made a day ahead)
Cook Time - 45 min
4 skin-on chicken thighs – (boneless or deboning optional)
1 Tbs neutral oil such as grapeseed or vegetable oil
1/3 cup chicken broth or water
Green onions for topping – White and pale green reserved for marinade
Toasted sesame seeds for topping
3 Tbs chopped pale and whites of green onion – (green tops reserved for garnish)
¼ Cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs Sesame oil
2 Tbs Gochujang paste
1 Tbs brown sugar
3 cloves garlic – minced
2” piece ginger, sliced or roughly chopped
1 Tbs Mirin or Rice Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Banchan – Korean side dishes such as rice, kimchi, cucumber salad, etc.
Method: (Up to one day ahead) - In a large bowl add all the marinade ingredients together and mix well to combine. Set aside.
Trim and debone chicken if wanted. Dry chicken thoroughly and add to the large bowl of marinade. Combine the marinade with the chicken and toss until all the chicken pieces are evenly coated. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and marinade in the fridge at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove chicken from fridge and let rest at room temperature 30 min before cooking.
Make the Banchan – see post/recipe on Banchan
Cook - Heat a large skillet on Medium-High heat until the pan is very warm. Add 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and let heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add chicken skin side down and sear until dark golden and crispy, about 4-6 min. Flip and sear another 3-5 min and reduce heat to Medium-Low. Add about 1/3 cup of broth or water and cover. Braise for about 30 minutes or until chicken has cooked through and registers at 165 on an instant-read thermometer. Remove chicken and plate on a serving dish. Reduce sauce until thick and syrupy and drizzle on top of chicken. Garnish with toasted sesame and green onions. Serve with sticky rice and plenty of banchan. Enjoy!