With many of us still unable to head out to our favourite restaurants, we’re stuck with the soggy alternative of takeout. It’s nice to order in, but it doesn’t have the same ‘straight out of the kitchen feel’ that restaurants offer.
However, getting involved and cooking at home can be another way to experience and taste cuisines of different regions. And with many of us stuck inside, it can also be a nice way to pass the time. But as Korean food can be a bit of a challenge to master, this week’s Food Friday is: Buldak chicken. Something that is full of flavour, but also extremely easy to whip up.
불닭 or buldak chicken is a heavily spiced, barbecued chicken dish. The literal meaning of the name is ‘fire chicken’, where the 불 (bul) means fire and 닭 (dak) means chicken.
A little bit of history before we delve into the dish. Buldak is quite a new phenomenon in South Korea and rose to popularity in 2004. Something that was both spicy and flavourful? It is amazing. Many mention how they enjoy eating buldak because it helps with releasing stress. The pain felt from the spice is said to trick the brain into releasing endorphins. That is why buldak chicken is a favourite amongst the nation of South Korea. This rise in popularity also created the trend of extremely hot dishes in South Korea and the buldak franchise of restaurants.
Buldak chicken involves cooking pieces of marinanted chicken and covering them in an intensely spicey sauce. This sauce is made up of gochutharu (chilli powder), gochujang (chilli paste), soy sauce, jocehong (starch syrup), garlic and ginger. The layering of heat with different forms of chillies gives a depth to the sauce. The starch syrup balances out the spiceness and adds a sweet element to the dish. A number of people also like to melt mozzarella cheese on top. This is because it adds a different type of texture and provides a little bit of relief from the spicey chicken pieces. This dish also pairs well with some rice or noodles.
The chicken in buldak can also be substituted with vegetarian and vegan alternatives such as Korean rice cakes or 떡 (tteok). It can be made with or without the cheese and in general can be adjusted to the palette and dietary needs of any individual.
All these ingredients can be found at any large supermarket within the UK. Easy, different and also very flavourful. If we’ve caught your eye then why not give this dish a go? For a classic buldak recipe, check out the Korean Masterchef: Maangchi’s video below. But if you’re looking for some remixes then check out Cookat’s ‘4 ways to enjoy buldak noodles’.