Fire chicken with cheese

Cheese buldak 치즈불닭

Today’s recipe is super-spicy chicken, called buldak in Korean. The Korean word bul means fire, and dak means chicken, so you can call this “fire chicken.”

I first heard about this dish years ago, when I still lived in Korea. One evening I saw a truck on the street selling barbecued chicken. The guy had set up a homemade grill with real fire underneath, and was barbecuing huge chunks of chicken covered in a thick, spicy paste. With the flames and the smoke, it was a real festive sight, and there was a crowd of people gathering around, some to buy his chicken and some to just take part in the revelry.


He had a banner on the side of his truck that said “불닭” (buldak). I had never heard the name before, but between the spicy chicken and the fire he was cooking it over, it seemed like a great name to me. I bought some and brought it home to my family. It was fantastic!

These buldak trucks caught on: they would come out in the evenings, set up their makeshift fire pits, and grill spicy chicken over the flames. People would come out and take part in the fun.

I eventually left Korea, and when I visited a few years ago and ordered buldak in a restaurant, it was a lot different than the chicken I used to get from the homemade fire pits. It was cooked in the kitchen and not an open fire in front of me, for one. It was still pretty tasty, and they offered to melt cheese on top, which was a new thing. And they used a cast iron pan to cook and serve it in, which was also new.

Over the years, many of my readers have requested I do a buldak recipe and video. I can’t set up a fire pit in my apartment, but my version is still plenty fiery! This buldak is spicy, a little sweet, and plenty soft and juicy. The crunchy rice cakes are my own variation and optional, but they give the dish a wonderful texture. If you want to make it less spicy, cut down on the hot pepper flakes, or use milder flakes. I use chicken breast in my recipe, but you could use chicken thigh, too.

I hope you love this recipe! Let me know if you try it!
buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 2 pounds of chicken breast, cut into 3/4 or 1 inch cubes
  • ½ cup hot pepper flakes
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup rice syrup (or corn syrup, sugar, honey)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese (optional), cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup of sliced rice cake (optional)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup water




  1. Combine hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, ground black pepper, rice syrup, garlic, and ginger in a bowl. Mix it well into a sweet and spicy paste.
  2. Add the chicken and mix well by hand.
    buldak with cheese (차즈불닭)
  3. Heat up a skillet with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the sliced rice cakes and fry them for a few minutes. Turn them over with a spatula once or twice until both sides are crispy and light golden brown.
    sliced rice cakes
  4. Place the marinated chicken into a heavy pan, preferably cast iron. Use the water to rinse the bowl and get the last of the sauce into the pan. Cover and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. If you use a normal frying pan, it will take 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure not to burn the chicken.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭) buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)
  5. Uncover, stir and turn over the chicken with a wooden spoon. Add the rice cakes to the top of the chicken.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)
  6. Turn down the heat very low. Cover and let cook another 10 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked. If you’re using cheese, pre-heat the oven broiler.
  7. When the chicken is cooked, put the cheese over the top. Slip it into the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.buldak in the oven
  8. Remove and sprinkle with the chopped green onion. Serve hot.
    buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)buldak with cheese (치즈불닭)



  1. Nyna France joined 5/18 & has 1 comment

    Today my boyfriend who is simply the worsth cook I’ve ever known made this recipe : it came out delicious and we are still alive !!! Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge about korean food ! It’s highly appreciated ! Have a lovely day Maangchi !

  2. CathrinaB Denmark joined 5/18 & has 1 comment

    I just found the recipe and it was the best choice to try it out! It was so good to eat and I will make it again. The taste was both a little sweet and spicy and let me tell you it was HOT – which my family loves a lot (well my dad said his mouth was in flames hahah) ^^
    Thank you Maangchi for the recipe!

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,284 comments

      If it’s not Korean cooking, people will think this is lasagne! It looks delicious and your description made me laugh loudly! Happy cooking!

  3. 1SpicyWonBok Hawaii joined 7/17 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi!

    This recipe looks amaaaaazing! I was just wondering, since I’m diabetic, is there any way to substitute the rice syrup/honey ingredient for a sugar substitute?

    Thank you!

  4. Mayuko Sweden joined 12/17 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi! I have followed you for sometime now on youtube. First i tried to make kimchi, but it diddent turn out so well because i got the wrong chili. But yesterday i tried this! I loved it so much and mu husband to. It got eaten so fast that i dident even get a photo. So yummy! I used honey instead of rice syrup and less chilliflakes. But totaly scrumptious!
    Thank you for your gourgeus recepies and happy smile! Hugs from sweden!

  5. spellbunny Canada joined 11/11 & has 2 comments

    Thank you for this recipe, I made it last night and it was delicious!!!

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  6. Vimal Muscat, Oman. joined 10/17 & has 4 comments

    I think this is the best thing i ever attempted! it was soo tasty. the sweet and spicyness was soo mouthwatering. I added mushrooms and ate with pita type of bread. Im definately going to try this recipe with other things later like cottage cheese cubes! Tasted very restaurant-ey. I couldnt believe i made it myself! Thanks Maangchi!! I finished it clean!

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