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.

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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 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

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buldak-mozzarella

Directions

  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)

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108 Comments:

  1. Jorobertson Alberta joined 10/18 & has 2 comments

    Woooeee! This is so good! My house actually smells like lasagne. Thought it would make for a fun Friday night dinner with my husband with a nice crunchy salad and some rice. You didn’t disappoint as it was simply delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe.


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  2. iamrhart Namhae, South Korea joined 10/12 & has 12 comments

    I made this for a United Way pasta potluck. I added noodles to this, like a caserol.


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  3. bowma02 Alaska joined 9/18 & has 2 comments

    This was a big hit in my house last night. I made a banchan with this as the entree. I had to dial the gochugaru back a bit as my husband can’t handle as much as I can. He loved it and raves about it all evening!


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  4. DianneHinWA Seattle Metro joined 8/18 & has 1 comment

    Tonight was the first time I’ve ever prepared a Korean dish. I decided to use this cheesy Fire Chicken recipe. I used only two tablespoons of the chili pepper paste and 12 oz mozzarella instead of the full pound. I also was able to find fresh rice cake cyclinders so I just sliced a few of those up. I’ll use the remaining cakes in your Hot & Spicy Rice Cake recipe.

    Your YouTube videos about shopping for Korean cooking essentials helped me immensely when I went to H Mart to find the key ingredients. I had a good mental image of what I needed even if I couldn’t read most of the words on the packages.

    The end result of tonight’s dinner was absolutely delicious! I will definitely be making this again for my husband and I. The only change I will make is to use chicken thigh meat the next time. Thank you for sharing your recipes. And, thank you for taking the time to film your wonderfully helpful videos.


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  5. The_Kewpie Australia joined 7/18 & has 1 comment

    Hey Maangchi,
    huge fan, always poking around your site looking for something cool to do when I’m feeling like Korean. Tried out this recipe and it was delicious but also it destroyed me because I’m weak against chilli, this was actually the second time we made it cus it was so good!! Thanks for all the great meals over the last few years. :)


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  6. Kay18 Kuwait joined 7/18 & has 2 comments

    Thank you for the recipe, we just ate up this buldak at lunch with rice, yum!


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  7. 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 !

  8. 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 11,532 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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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  12. 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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