Korean Chicken and Gochujang Stew (Dak Dori Tang 닭도리탕)

chick_gochAfter all the festive food and excellent wines I have been drinking during the holiday season I found it very difficult to choose what recipe should be the first one posted in 2015. The food I’ve been preparing is particularly simple since I’m busy at work and these short winter days make me all sleepy and lazy… Does chilli wake you up from winter lethargy? It gives me such a big kick of energy I sometimes feel like eating chilli seasonings by tablespoons! In such periods, obviously, Korean dishes are frequent visitors to my table.

I have cooked this fiery stew several times and each time I wondered how at its rich and complex flavours obtained without any stock. The chicken, the gochujang (Korean chilli paste) and the ground sesame seeds do it all. Even though this dish makes a filling, rich one-course winter meal, it is not high-calorie nor high-fat, therefore totally safe for all of you who try to eat healthier after holidays’ indulgence. As always, I’m thrilled to discover one more way to use my beloved gochujang!

The recipe comes from my well-tested and still surprisingly excellent Food and Cooking of Korea by Young Jin Song. I have adapted the recipe to a meal for two and slightly modified the preparation process.

TIPS: Gochujang is a Korean chilli paste. It is smooth, sticky and slightly sweet and cannot be substituted with anything else. You can buy it in Korean and Japanese grocery shops (and often in more general Asian shops). It is east to recognise because most brands sell it in plastic red rectangle-shaped boxes. If you cannot get it, add more chilli powder and 2 tablespoons of a syrup (for ex. agave syrup). The result will not be the same, but the stew will still be delicious. (Don’t bother buying other chilli pastes; nothing is similar to gochujang).

Bones are here necessary to makes a flavoursome stew, so if you don’t like meat with bones, debone but cook the stew with the bones too. Remove them before serving.

I don’t recommend this dish with chicken breast which will become dry.

The recipe calls for chicken with skin, but since it makes the whole dish fatty and I don’t like soft boiled chicken skin anyway, I prefer to skin the chicken pieces before cooking. Choose the option you prefer.

Click here if you look for other ideas of gochujang use in your kitchen.

Preparation: about 1 hour – 1h30

Ingredients (serves two as the main course):

1 big chicken leg or two small ones (with bones), cut in two or the equivalent of other chicken cuts with bones; I prefer the chicken skinned (see above)

2 medium potatoes

1 big carrot (or another winter vegetable of your choice, such as pumpkin or parsnip)

1 big onion

1 big garlic clove

2 fresh green chillies, sliced

1 fresh red chilli, sliced

1 tablespoon sesame oil

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon chopped spring onions


2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin); I have used cheap Japanese sake

salt and pepper

Gochujang paste:

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds (ground)

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste) or more if you like very hot food

2 tablespoons Korean chilli powder (or more) or any other medium-hot chilli powder

Combine the marinade ingredients and marinate the chicken pieces for at least 10 minutes.

Peel the potatoes, cut into cubes and soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes.

Peel the garlic and chop finely.

Cut the onion in two and slice it.

Heat some oil in a pan and stir-fry the garlic.

When it starts changing colour, remove it with a slotted spoon, add 1 tablespoon oil and stir-fry the chicken until it browns slightly. Add the onion and stir-fry for 5 more minutes.

Add the potatoes, the cubed carrot, the fried garlic and pour enough water to cover the ingredients.

In the meantime prepare the gochujang paste, combining all the ingredients.

Add the gochujang paste to the stew, as well as sliced chillies, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Uncover the stew, season with salt and pepper and simmer it until the liquid thickens slightly and the chicken meat falls off the bone.

Serve in bowls with chopped green onions and a splash of sesame oil. (I like to sprinkle it with some uncooked green chilli too).

16 Replies to “Korean Chicken and Gochujang Stew (Dak Dori Tang 닭도리탕)”

  1. I have to remember this the next time I buy a tray of chicken drumsticks or thighs. They always seem to be on sale and though I often go Indian/tandoori themed, I should really try something Korean.

      1. I marinated some drumsticks in gochujang, miso, garlic and ginger powder and some sesame oil and baked them off along with tonight’s Italian seasoned ones. I think they’re going to be REALLY spicy based on tasting some of the coating on the baking sheet. I’m going to make some rice to go with them tomorrow.

        1. Thank you for the feedback. I hope you will like them (one gets used to more and more heat in food, so I’m sure the more you use gochujang, the bigger amounts you’ll need 😉 ).

  2. This does sound like a delicious fiery stew. The short day light hours definitely impact me as well. It’s funny, we were out for an early dinner this past weekend and I asked my husband to guess the time — we both agreed that it felt like 10 pm even though it was only 6:40 pm (!) I think there really is something to Circadian rhythms. I find thermogenic spices appealing on many levels – including the serotonin kick 😀 . This is definitely one our family will try Sissi — I will triple the batch. Oh, and since I’m putting in an Amazon order this afternoon, I am going to add Korean chilli paste and powder to the list! Done. Your image is great — I can feel the warmth.

    1. Thanks a lot, Kelly. For me the evenings are not the worst (though very tiring). The worst are the mornings… when it’s still dark when I wake up… I hate it! There must be something in hot food… I crave it in the summer and in the winter, but in both seasons for different reasons. In short, I eat spicy all the time! I’m relieved the bony leg doesn’t scare you 😉 I thought it looked funny and finally left it, but I had had some doubts first… I hope you will try this stew. It’s so easy and delicious!

  3. I’m always in search of drumsticks/drumettes recipes as my children loves chicken with bones (weird, right?). I’m pretty good with spice now (I’m actually surprised at myself – I think the key was to eat spicy food constantly, not here and there), maybe my stomach may not be able to tolerate super spicy…but I’m comfortable trying out more spicy foods for sure. Therefore, even the soup or sauce is a little bit red, I won’t freak out. LOL. My kids are still trying, but I think I’m better! Anyway, this recipe looks like a great way to start your blog, Sissi!

    1. Hi Nami, thank you so much. When I was a child I loved chicken wings, so I’m not surprised your children like bones in chicken too. I’m glad to learn you get used to heat. I have a higher resistance every year and when I think of the level I’ll obtain in 10 years… it’s scary! I love heat in food and couldn’t imagine living without it.

  4. I have this Korean paste in my refrigerator! Korean foods are mesmerizing (I watch Korean drama often) Looks really fabulous! Love the photo,always!

    1. Thank you so much, Nipponnin. You are so kind with your compliments… I totally agree about Korean food. Addictive too!

  5. I haven’t heard of gochujang before Sissi. So it’s just chili and sugar syrup, did I understand that correctly? I doubt we get to buy this here, irony I know! I am thinking of making it from scratch because your hot dish looks super comforting.

    1. Thank you, Hélène. Gochujang’s production process is quite long and is based on fermentation. Its taste is really unique… but if you cannot get it, a mixture of syrup and chilli and maybe some soy sauce creates at leas the hot and sweet kind of flavours which characterises gochujang. It will not be exactly the same taste, but it’s better than nothing.

  6. Since when did you need an excuse like the “cold” to eat chili by the spoonfuls? 🙂 I think it’s been a cold winter everywhere because the comfort foods this year have been numerous and incredible. This dish falling under the label of MOST incredible! So simple and so comforting. There is nothing better than a spicy chicken stew to warm these old bones of mine the winter. I’m headed to the Asian market today and will be picking up some of that gochujang. I’ve never had it before, but I see you and Nami using it quite a bit. Thanks for another great recipe Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. Actually our winter is quite mild 🙂 Last weekend for example there was 15°C on Saturday! I think that dark shorter days and lack of sun make me want to eat stews and other comfort dishes. Good luck with gochujang use! I’m sure you will fall in love. (Or start being dependent… I have recently bought a 1 kg tub…).

Comments are closed.