Dak Galbi – 닭갈비 (Spicy Korean Chicken Stirfry)
Dak Galbi – 닭갈비, is a spicy stir-fried chicken dish made with boneless chicken pieces, rice cakes (tteokbokki tteok, 떡볶이떡), and some vegetables. Dak means chicken, and galbi means ribs. But, there are no ribs in this dish. Back in the day, pork ribs (dweji galbi) were too expensive for everyday grilling, so a restaurant cook created a similarly flavored dish with chicken instead and called it dakgalbi.
This spicy chicken dish originated in Chuncheon (춘천), a city in Gangwon Province (강원도), in the 1960s, hence the dish is also known as Chuncheon dakgalbi. During one of my trips to Korea, I took a day trip to Chuncheon with a couple of friends. I always loved this dish I had in Seoul, but I wanted to experience the dish where it was born.
Chuncheon is a small city which is about an hour’s driving distance from Seoul. It’s a beautiful city with mountains and lakes and numerous dakgalbi restaurants. We went to the famous dakgalbi alley with a high concentration of restaurants. We picked the one that looked busy from the outside. It was past lunchtime, but the place was still bustling.
And don’t forget, #LifesDelicious, so enjoy it!
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- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken thighs
- 8 ounces green cabbage
- 1 small Korean sweet potato (goguma 고구마), about 6 ounces
- 8 ounces tteokbokki tteok 떡볶기 떡 (10 to 12 pieces), rice cakes
- 6 - 8 kkaennip (깻잎), perilla leaves
- 2 scallions
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, pizza blend, etc.) or more to taste -- optional
- green or red leaf lettuce and ssamjang - optional see note
- 2 tablespoons gochugaru, 고추가루 Use 1 to 1.5 TBS for a less spicy dish
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Korean curry powder 카레가루 Powder form of curry sauce mix
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 1/2 tablespoon corn or oligo syrup (or more sugar)
- 2 tablespoons gochujang, 고추장
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Optional fried rice:
- 2 servings of cooked rice
- 1 tablespoon dak galbi sauce reserved
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 sheet roasted gim (김), dried seaweed sheet
- 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
- Soak the rice cakes in cold water for about 20 minutes.
Mix all the sauce ingredients well in a bowl.
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
Combine the chicken pieces with the sauce (reserving one tablespoon if you’re going to make fried rice at the end) and marinate while preparing vegetables.
Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise and then thinly slice crosswise and slightly diagonally. Cut the cabbage, kkaennip, and scallion into small pieces.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat. You can add a tablespoon of oil if you want, but it should not be necessary. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, rice cakes, and cabbages. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat if the ingredients (especially the rice cakes) stick to the pan and brown too fast. The steam from the vegetables should keep them from sticking to the pan, but you can also add about 1/4 cup of water.
Add the kkaennip and scallion and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the rice cake and the sweet potato pieces turn soft. By then the chicken should be cooked through as well. If using cheese, you can add it in this step with 2 to 3 minutes remaining.
Optional Fried Rice
Reheat the pan over medium heat with any leftover chicken and vegetables and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Add the rice to the pan along with the reserved sauce. Stir constantly until everything is well incorporated and the clumped-up rice is broken up for about 5 minutes. You can add a little bit of soy sauce or gochujang if you need more seasoning. Scrape up the flavorful brown bits from the pan while stirring. Tear or crumble the dried seaweed sheet (gim) into small pieces, and stir into the rice. Finish off with the sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil if you want.
Enjoy dakgalbi wrapped in lettuce and/or perilla leaves with a dollop of ssamjang. Delicious!!