Written by Rae
Koreans prepare chicken in a number of ways that are both spicy and sweet, but one of my favorite dishes is dalk galbi. Dalk galbi is made by stir-frying chicken in a gochu-jang sauce (red pepper paste) with other things like cabbage, onion, carrot, sweet potato, and perilla leaves. You can add other things like rice cakes, zucchini, or whatever else you little heart desires. Koreans will also give a cheese option, and you can sprinkle cheese on the top of this dish if that’s your thing. However, one thing that makes this dish are the perilla leaves. They impart a really nice earthy flavor to the dish, and add a different layer to the spicy and sweet notes of the dish.
Dalk galbi is a specialty of the Chuncheon region, and if you’ve never had Chuncheon dalk galbi, go get it because it’s worth the trip. However, if that’s too far for you, or if you are tired of trying to find a good dalk-galbi restaurant in Seoul, you can easily make it at home. It’s really simple and requires only a taste test to figure out if you’ve made something worth eating!
Here’s what you need:
This feeds about 2 people.
2 chicken breasts, or 2 chicken breasts worth of chicken if using thighs, etc.
a generous amount of cabbage
other vegetables you want to add like sweet potato (thinly sliced), zucchini, hot pepper, etc.
a handful of perilla leaves
For the sauce:
3 or more heaping Tablespoons of gochu-jang (red pepper paste)
1.5 Tablespoons of a liquid sweetener (I used honey, but Koreans use corn syrup)
a dash of soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch ginger piece, minced
some red pepper flakes, if you have them (I didn’t)
a little bit of water
When you make your sauce, taste it to see how you like it. You can add more ginger, garlic, red pepper paste or any of the other ingredients to make it taste good. Add some dried herbs or tiny bit of sesame oil, if you like. If the sauce tastes good, the dalk-galbi will turn out great! Just make sure there’s enough sauce to cook all the stuff you’re adding. Add a little bit of water if there isn’t, and it should boil away during the cooking process and leave a nice coating on everything.
To make dalk-galbi: Cut up all your vegetables and chicken into edible sized pieces. I tend to cut them thinly so the cooking time is a little faster. Then, stir-fry the carrots and other vegetables for a few minutes. Add your onions and stir-fry a few minutes longer. Add chicken and cabbage. Pour sauce all over. If you need to, add a little more water or sauce, so there’s enough to cook. Stir occassionaly until everything is cooked. You can also add some dried herbs, I added Herbs de Provence. Towards the end, tear up the perilla leaves and throw them in until wilted. Eat and enjoy!