It’s the weekday and you want something delicious and not too challenging to make for dinner. Do you go back to the same old easy recipe you make every week because it’s easy? How about you change it up one night for something that will bring a smile to your face. I’ve got just the thing for you that takes less than 10 ingredients and 30 minutes of your time. Let's make some Korean Barbecue-style Chicken?
If you’re familiar with Korean BBQ, it’s what you’re used to finding when you go out to eat. You have the server racing around grilling your perfectly marinated savoury and sweet meat right at your table while you lean back in your seat, feeling like you're in the comforts of your own living room, trying not to drool while eagerly waiting for them to tell you, "It’s ready."
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It may seem like a lot of work as a spectator, or rather, consumer at a Korean BBQ restaurant. But it’s really easy to replicate the original Korean BBQ recipe at home with just seven ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, honey or sugar, your choice of protein, garlic, rice vinegar, and onions.
Of course, you can always spice it up with some crushed chilli flakes or jalapeños.
It’s well worth making it at home on those nights you don’t want to go out, or if you’re trying to save on spending cash.
Honestly, the Korean BBQ places can be tough on your wallet depending on the quality and type of meat you’re ordering.. So why not make it in the comfort of your own home at a cheaper price?
This was one of my Korean BBQ dinners back in New York City last year.
The Korean BBQ marinade is something I've seen my mother make since I was a little girl. As traditional recipes are handed down from generation to generation, you never see your grandma or mother accurately measure any of the ingredients. Can you relate?
My mother and grandmother both just pour a little of this, shake a bottle of that, add a few pinches of this and somehow it always turns out tasting just as perfect as the last time they made the dish. That's how I learned to make this marinade growing up, so I finally decided to measure each ingredient out in order to share it with you.
Let's start by gathering the ingredients you'll need.
(serving size of 2)
4 chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped thick
Step 1. Mince the garlic and chop the onions (into 1/2 inch thick strands).
Step 2. In a mixing bowl, mix the garlic, onions, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and honey to make the marinade. We'll save the sesame oil for later.
Step 3. Place the chicken thighs in a resealable bag or tupperware. Pour the marinade onto the chicken thighs. Seal the bag or tupperware and shake to make sure the marinade covers the entirety of the chicken thighs thoroughly. Then, add the sesame oil and coat the chicken thighs.
My mother and grandmother always taught me that the sesame oil is added last to the marinade because oil will coat the meat, not allowing the rest of the marinade to be absorbed. So, you add sesame oil last to any dish only after the other ingredients (soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and garlic) have absorbed a bit. Finally, place the bag or container in the refrigerator for one hour to let the marinade soak in.
If you don't have time to wait the hour, it's all right to cook the chicken right away. Just make sure the chicken thighs are generously covered with the marinade before placing them on the pan. Then, add the remainder of the marinade to the pan also, allowing the chicken thighs to absorb more flavours. This way, the chicken thighs will still have 20 minutes of contact time to soak up the glorious marinade flavours.
Step 4. Heat an oven-safe pan at medium heat on the stovetop. Add rapeseed oil or any other healthy cooking oil to the pan.
Step 5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Step 6. Place the chicken thighs on the heated pan with the skin side down to get the the skin crispy. Cook for about 5 minutes until lightly golden. Then, flip it.
Step 7. Place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes until there is almost a char on the skin side of the chicken thighs. Check with a meat thermometer that the chicken has reached a temperature of 165°F (74°C). Then, remove it from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes.
8. You can serve the chicken as is over a bed of rice and with some vegetables on the side. Or you can do what I did and slice up the chicken thighs to add it to a Vietnamese-style bún noodle bowl.
My favourite way of eating Korean barbecue is dipping the meat in sauce called ssamjang and wrapping it in a leaf of lettuce. Then, popping that beautiful lettuce wrap in my mouth.
You're basically consuming a ketogenic diet by not consuming any noodles or rice with this dish. It's my way of being a bit more health conscious. You also feel less full when you remove the carbohydrates, which is a good thing. No one wants to carry that feeling of bloat around for the rest of the day.
May I Use This KBBQ Marinade Elsewhere?
Now that you know the Korean barbecue marinade recipe, you can apply it to pretty much to anything you would eat in place of a protein in your meal. It can be used to marinade beef ribs (or pretty much any cut of beef), pork, chicken, tofu, and even king oyster mushrooms.
I've used this KBBQ marinade for all of the above and it always tastes terrific. You can't beat the versatility of this recipe.
If you prefer your marinade a bit sweeter, replace the onions with shallots. I tried that out recently and it naturally sweetened up the dish without adding more honey or sugar to the mix.
HAVE A GRILL?
If you are blessed with an outdoor grill in your yard, skip the stovetop and oven. Go straight to cooking this Korean BBQ chicken (or any protein you choose to substitute) right on the grill. The KBBQ marinade really caramelises well on the grill. And to be honest, the grill just makes everything taste better.
It's easy to go back to cooking your default recipes or buying takeaway on a weeknight at home. But that can become boring very quickly. The idea of trying a new recipe can seem daunting and too much of an effort. But I want to challenge you to try this Korean barbecue recipe that you can have ready in 30 minutes with just seven ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry. It'll revive your bored tastebuds while still keeping you eating relatively healthy. Let me know how it turned out for you by leaving a comment below.