We’re spicing things up a little for our Friday Food this week with some fire chicken! Buldak has been a popular street food in Korea for many years and has now become a great sharing dish at restaurants too. If it’s a name doesn’t already give it away, this one is not for the faint-hearted. But if you like your spice to pack a punch, this is the perfect dish for you to delve into.
Being a relatively new dish in the long, illustrious history of Korean cuisine, buldak really rose to popularity around 2004. This time coincided with the economic downturn the country was dealing with, and it’s said that people began to seek out spicy foods in order to relieve their rising stress. Whether this is an effective method or not will likely depend on home much heat you can handle in your food! The popularity of this saw a general trend in Korean food becoming hotter, with many other recipes getting an extra dose of spice to keep up with the public’s changing pallets. Interestingly enough, buldak also started to become popular internationally, particularly here in the UK. It’s still one of the most popular Korean takeaway foods to order here.
If the name sounds familiar, you would be right. Another spicy food trend swept the internet a few years ago, involving a certain type of instant noodles: buldak bokkeum myun. The fire noodle challenge saw people uploading videos of themselves to YouTube trying to finish a bowl of Samyang’s famously hot noodles. The challenge also originated in the UK too. Josh from YouTube channel Korean Englishman challenged his British friends to eat an entire pot of the buldak noodles without drinking water. The video of this, part of a regular series in which British people tried many different Korean foods, became so popular that the challenge spread worldwide.
The flavour of those noodles is directly inspired by buldak. As a dish by itself, buldak is relatively simple. Chicken is barbecued, grilled or even deep fried in small pieces, served covered in a spicy sauce that brings the fire it’s name promises. This sauce is usually made from gochugaru, gochujang, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and syrup, though this recipe can vary slightly from place to place. To make it even hotter, a special type of chilli powder is preferred over normal gochugaru used in most Korean recipes – Cheongyang chilli powder. All this is served up in one pan, often with some sliced rice cakes thrown in and covered with melted cheese to take a little of the edge off the heat. Beer and mild side dishes are served alongside to further help with the spice – if you need it!
Have you tried this super hot chicken dish before? If so, could you take the heat? Check out Maangchi’s delicious recipe and test it for yourself if you haven’t already. We guarantee you’ll want to try it after watching this!