Recipe: Spicy Korean Grilled Chicken

by Sunita

I haven’t posted a recipe in ages. Thanks to TheH, we have been having some delicious Korean food this spring and summer. Gochujang makes all the difference, it turns out.

Since it’s summer and we’re grilling regularly, we decided to see if we could come close to the kinds of grilled chicken we’ve had in Southeast Asia. I found a couple of recipes that I combined (from here and here) for our attempt.

  • 2 lbs. Chicken wings and drumsticks (cut up wings into drummettes)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 T. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ground black pepper
  • 3 T. Gochujang sauce
  • 1 T. red chili flakes (less if you don’t want it quite hot)
  • 1 T. smoked paprika (regular if you don’t have smoked)
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. rice wine (I used 1 T. white wine and 1 T. rice vinegar)
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. fruit juice (apple, orange, something sweet)
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 T. minced or pressed garlic
  • 2 T. minced or grated ginger
  • 1/2 t. salt

In a large bowl, combine chicken, rosemary, salt, pepper, and milk. Let chicken soak for 20 minutes to an hour.

While chicken is soaking, thoroughly combine all the other ingredients in a small bowl.

The list is long and looks intimidating, but you’ll have most of the ingredients in your cupboard if you cook and/or bake regularly. The Gochujang sauce, which is non-substitutable, is available at Asian groceries and some large non-specialty groceries in areas with Asian residents. The red chili flakes and paprika are a substitute for Korean chili powder (Gochugaru). If you acquire the real thing, use 3 T. of it instead of my substitutes.

Drain the chicken (don’t worry about getting all the rosemary off, it will be fine in the marinade). Put the chicken and marinade in a plastic bad and make sure the chicken is fully coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, tip it out of the bag into a bowl that can hold it and the marinade. Fire up your grill with one side on medium-hot and the other on low. If you are charcoal-grilling, build the fire on one side so that you can do both direct and indirect cooking. Oil the grill grates before putting on the chicken.

Take the chicken out of the bowl and place all the pieces on the grill, keeping the bowl with the marinade to one side. They will stick at first. When they release with a spatula, turn them regularly so they brown evenly. The drumsticks will take 15-20 minutes total depending on size, the wings about 15 for the drummettes and slightly less for the flat parts.

As they finish cooking, move them from the hot to the indirect side of the grill. Then, take them all off, put them back in the marinade, swish them around, and then put them back on the less-hot side and close the grill for about 2 minutes. This should help the marinade carmelize without burning the chicken and cook away any residual chicken juices.

Remove from the grill to a platter and let them rest for 5 minutes, sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped green onions for garnish if you want, and serve. Voilà!