A spicy stir-fried chicken dish made with boneless chicken pieces, rice cakes (tteokbokki tteok), green cabbage, sweet potato, and other vegetables. It’s a restaurant favorite in Korea, but you can easily recreate at home with this recipe!
Dakgalbi(닭갈비) is very popular all over Korea, especially in Chuncheon (춘천), a city in Gangwon Province (강원도), where the dish originated in the 1960’s. It is a spicy stir-fried chicken dish made with boneless chicken pieces, rice cakes(tteokbokki tteok),green cabbage, sweet potato, and other vegetables.
Dak means chicken, and galbi means ribs. But, there are no ribs in this dish. Back in the day,pork ribs (dweji galbi) weretoo expensive for everyday grilling, so a restaurant cook created a similarly flavored dish with chicken instead and called itdak galbi.
During my recent trip to Korea, I took a day trip to Chuncheon with a couple of friends. I always loved thedak galbi I had in Seoul, but this time I wanted to experience the dish where it’s a local specialty.
Chucheon is a small city which is about an hour driving distance from Seoul. It’s a beautiful city with mountains and lakes, but most of all it boasts hundreds ofdakgalbirestaurants.
We went to the famousdak galbialley with a high concentration of restaurants. We didn’t do any research before we went, so we just picked the one that lookedbusy from the outside. It was past lunch time, but the place was still bustling.
Each table wasequipped with a gas stove and a large round grillpan, which is pretty standard at typicaldak galbi restaurants. We ordered 3 servings of dak galbi. Shortly after, the waitress brought out a tray full of red spicy marinated chicken, freshly cutcabbage and sweet potatoes, and rice cakes. She then dumped everything on to the pan that was being heated in the middle of the table. The chicken started to sizzle immediately, and the smell was incredible. We had to patiently wait for everything to be cooked through, stirring occasionally.
When the rice cakes and sweet potato pieces turntender, the chicken is also ready to eat. We couldn’t stop eating! We ate some wrapped in lettuce and perilla leaves. The dak galbi tasted a little lighter and cleaner at this place than the ones I tried in Seoul. I liked it better this way.
The sauce for dak galbi is made with staple Korean ingredients, such as gochugaru(red chili pepper flakes), gochujang (red chili pepper paste), garlic, ginger, etc. It sometimescontains Korean curry powder, which is a pre-made mixture.
Dak galbi is typically not served with rice, but it’s customary to mix in some rice into the leftovers at the end to make fried rice. At restaurants, you have to order the rice separately to do this. We were very full, but had to have some fried rice.
After leaving the restaurant feeling satisfied and full, we took a scenic ferry to a small island called Nami Island (남이섬), and walked around completely enjoying an early fall day.
This popular restaurantdish is so easy to make at home. You can double the sauce recipe and keep the halfin the fridge. You will definitely want to make it again soon.
Dak Galbi (Spicy Stir-fried Chicken)Main Course
- 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken thighs
- 8 ounces green cabbage
- 1 small Korean sweet potato (goguma 고구마), about 6 ounces
- 6 to 8 ounces tteokbokki tteok 떡볶기 떡 (10 to 12 pieces) rice cakes
- 6 - 8 kkaennip 깻잎 perilla leaves
- 2 scallions
- 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons gochugaru, 고추가루 (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon Korean curry powder 카레가루 optional
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup or more sugar
- 2 tablespoons gochujang, 고추장 (Korean red chili pepper paste)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
Optional fried rice:
- Two servings of cooked rice
- 1 tablespoon dak galbi sauce reserved
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 sheet of gim 김 dried seaweed
- Soak the rice cakes in cold water for 10 to 20 minutes if hardened. Skip if using fresh rice cakes.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients well in a bowl. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Mix with the sauce (reserving one tablespoon if you’re going to make fried rice at the end) and marinate while preparing vegetables.
- Cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Mix 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 this is not 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. 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.
Optional Fried Rice
- Add the rice to the pan along with the reserved sauce and sesame oil. Stir constantly until everything is well incorporated and the clumped up rice is broken up, about 5 minutes. Scrape up the flavorful brown bits from the pan while stirring. Mix in the dried seaweed and sesame oil.