Dak Galbi. Tender juicy chicken stir fried in a smoky, spicy, sweet sauce with carrots, cabbage, perilla leaves, rice cakes and onion. Ready in 25 minutes!
What is Dak Galbi?
Dak Galbi is a Korean Spicy Chicken Stir Fry. "Dak" means "chicken" and "galbi" means "ribs" but this main dish is ribless. In the past, Korean restaurants used pork ribs but because they were so costly for daily serving, they replaced the ribs with chicken, hence the name.
This iconic Korean dish is usually fried on large frying pan or large cast iron skillets that sit on an open flame or a portable gas stove in the middle of the table. It's a communal dish a group of friends can share with rice and fresh perilla leaves or lettuce. After all the chicken and veggies are eaten, white rice or instant ramen is stir fried with the leftover sauce and it’s so good!
There are numerous dakgalbi restaurants that specialize in this Korean food. In fact, there is a famous dakgalbi alley called "Chuncheon Myeongdong Dakgalbi Street" located in Chuncheon of the Gangwon province. This alleyway is lined with restaurants that serve this spicy chicken dish.
My Korean dak galbi recipe is simple to make at home and it’s spicy and satisfying! It's a delicious recipe that is great as a weeknight meal and serves well as leftovers. Easily my favorite Korean dish to eat with a bowl of rice!
Please scroll down to the below Recipe card for full measurements.
- Chicken thighs: preferably boneless chicken thighs without the skin. You may use chicken breast and dice them but please reduce the cooking time as breast tends to dry out faster than thighs.
- Gochujang: this is a Korean hot pepper paste. This is the key ingredient to make your spicy gochujang sauce. It's a spicy sauce commonly used in Korean cuisine for that sweet smoky flavor. You can find this in the sauce aisle at most Korean grocers and it comes in a red tub. There are also different spice levels: from mild to hot so choose accordingly.
- Gochugaru: aka Korean red pepper powder. It's a spicy red chili powder or flake that is seedless. It's spicy and very red in color. Commonly used in Korean cooking. It's a common Korean ingredient that offers a vibrant red color and spice.
- Regular soy sauce: or substitute with low sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce. If you’re gluten-free, substitute with tamari sauce, coconut aminos or a gluten-free soy sauce of your choice.
- Ginger: this helps tenderize the chicken and gives our sauce extra flavor.
- White granulated sugar: or sub with sweetener of choice, like honey or cane sugar, to balance the spicy and salty flavors of our sauce.
- Garlic cloves: this adds a delicious garlicky taste and aroma to our dish.
- Onion: to give our sauce extra flavor. Onion pairs amazingly well with chicken.
Other Key Ingredients
- Napa cabbage or regular cabbage: I like using napa cabbage as it's softer but feel free to use regular green cabbage if you can't find the napa kind.
- Carrot: This makes our spicy stir-fried chicken dish healthier and gives it some more color. If you don't have carrots, you can substitute with sweet potatoes or regular potato.
- Yellow Onion: or substitute with white onion or green onions.
- Perilla leaves: a wonderful leaf found in Asia that is commonly used in Korean cooking. Often incorporated into dishes or used like a 'lettuce' wrap. You can find this at the Korean grocer in the produce aisle or omit if you can't find it.
- Korean Rice Cakes: aka "tteok" in Korean. These are thick chewy rice cakes like a mochi like texture. Just make sure to soak these in warm water for 5 minutes to help acclimate them. I recommend getting fresh or refrigerated rice cakes and avoid the frozen kind as they easily splinter. These can be omitted if you can't find them.
- Neutral oil: like avocado oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil with a high smoke point. Avoid olive oil or any heavy scented oils with a low smoke point.
- Optional garnish: green onions, toasted sesame seeds, or shredded mozzarella cheese to add at the end while it's hot so it can melt.
Note: Most Asian grocery stores will carry most of the Asian specific ingredients.
- Use chicken thighs for extra flavor! The dark meat makes a big difference.
- Make sure the chicken is fresh by doing a smell test at the grocery store. If you can smell an odor, put it back and get a fresher pack of chicken.
- Soak the rice cakes in warm water for at least 5 minutes to bring them to room temperature so they don't split in the sauce.
How to make Dak Galbi
Soak rice cakes in warm water and set aside. When ready to cook, strain out the water.
Slice chicken thighs into bite size pieces, about 1.5-inch wide. Then transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl. In a small mixing bowl, combine Sauce ingredients and pour on top of chicken. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes or longer.
In a large pan or cast iron pan set over medium heat, add vegetable oil followed by sliced onions. Cook until onions are translucent.
Next stir fry carrots, cabbage, rice cakes and perilla leaves. Cook until cabbage has softened, about 3-4 minutes.
Add chicken with marinade sauce and stir-fry with other ingredients. Spread evenly across the pan. Fry chicken for 10 minutes, flipping over half way.
Once cooked, remove off heat and enjoy!
Tip: enjoy the leftover sauce by mixing in some steamed rice or instant ramen noodles!
Quick & Easy Dak Galbi
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs sliced into bite size pieces
- 2 cups napa cabbage or regular cabbage chopped
- ½ cup carrot thinly sliced
- ¾ cup Korean rice cakes soaked in warm water
- ½ small yellow onion julienned
- 6 perilla leaves stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or any neutral oil
- Soak rice cakes in warm water and set aside. When ready to cook, strain out the water.
- Slice chicken thighs into bite size pieces, about 1.5-inch wide. Then transfer chicken pieces to a large bowl. In a small mixing bowl, combine Sauce ingredients and pour on top of chicken. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes or longer.
- In a large pan or cast iron pan set over medium heat, add vegetable oil followed by sliced onions. Cook until onions are translucent.
- Next stir fry carrots, cabbage, rice cakes and perilla leaves. Cook until cabbage has softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add chicken with marinade sauce and stir-fry with other ingredients. Spread evenly across the pan. Fry chicken for 10 minutes, flipping over half way.
- Once cooked, remove off heat and enjoy!
- Optional Tip: enjoy the leftover sauce by mixing in some steamed rice or cooked instant ramen noodles!