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Spicy Korean chicken is a great bite to ‘heat’

Korean Chicken
Korean chicken is a spicy, delicious dish, perfect for stuffing into fresh bao and topped with cilantro and sesame seeds.

A lot of people took time during their quarantine to learn to make fresh bread. I don’t know how many Pinterest posts I saw where people proudly showed off their sourdough starters. 

Rather than tackle that particular challenge, I decided to try my hand at some Asian dishes instead.

As a lifelong Kansan, I haven’t had a lot exposure to different cultures’ cuisines, so I decided to see if I could create some of those flavors myself. It was fun to explore some areas of the grocery store I don’t normally even visit.

Last week, I shared my experience with making steamed buns, bao, for the first time, and I promised to tell you how to make the chicken recipe I made to go with it. (If you missed that one, check out my website at spiceupkitchen.net to find it.)

Ironically, while I spent all kinds of time making my bao from scratch, I simplified the recipe for the chicken quite a bit, so even if you don’t have time to make steamed buns, I highly recommend trying this recipe out and serving it alongside some rice or maybe even over some Asian noodles.

This comes from the blog “Kitchen Sanctuary” by Nicky Corbishley. You can find the original post at https://www.kitchensanctuary.com/korean-chicken-bao/. I switched out a few ingredients—opting to use popcorn chicken instead of breading my own and substituting miso and sambal oelek for gochujang paste, which wasn’t available at my local grocery store. I also added extra garlic.

Korean Chicken
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Korean Chicken

Korean chicken is a spicy, delicious dish, perfect for stuffing into fresh bao and topped with cilantro and sesame seeds.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Keyword Asian, chicken, garlic, ginger, honey, Korean, miso paste, sambal oelek, spicy

Ingredients

  • 25 ounces frozen popcorn chicken
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • fresh cilantro for serving
  • white and/or black sesame seeds for serving

Instructions

  • Fry or bake the popcorn chicken according to package instructions. While the chicken cooks add the miso, sambal oelek, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, canola oil and sesame oil in a saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for about five minutes, until it thickens.
  • Add the chicken and sauce to a bowl and stir to coat the chicken. Serve the chicken inside bao or over rice or Asian pasta. Top with cilantro and sesame seeds.

This had a great kick to it, spice wise. If you’re not into spicy stuff, you might tone down the sambal oelek a bit and opt for a bit more miso instead, but I highly recommend giving this a try. It has more of a slow, sweet burn to it rather than one that smacks you in the face.

We ate ours in bao, obviously, and the puffed, simple bread was the perfect vehicle for the Korean chicken.

I don’t think I’ll be making bao all of the time, thanks to how time consuming it is, but this chicken will definitely go in the regular rotation.

If I’m going to completely master Asian cooking, I have quite a few more dishes—and countries—to explore. It might have been easier to stick with sourdough.

This piece first appeared in print on Oct. 7, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.