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Recipe: Cheesy chicken an oozy delight

  • NEW YORK TIMES Maangchi’s cheese buldak (fire chicken).


    Maangchi’s cheese buldak (fire chicken).

Cheese buldak takes chicken braised in a sauce made with spicy gochujang and gochugaru, staples in Korean cooking, then covers it with shredded mozzarella. The origins of the dish likely have something to do with the arrival of pizza chains like Domino’s in South Korea, and with them a mountain of low-moisture mozzarella.

This recipe is owes its deepest debt to Emily Kim, the Korean web star known as Maangchi, whose video for cheese buldak has been viewed on YouTube more than 7 million times.


Adapted by Sam Sifton

  • 1/4 cup gochugaru (Korean red-pepper flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red-pepper paste)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or peanut
  • 4 ounces sliced Korean rice cakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 to 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, sliced, for garnish

Combine gochugaru, gochujang, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and black pepper in a bowl; mix well. Add chicken and stir to coat.

Swirl oil into a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add rice cakes (if using) and cook, turning often, until they are a little crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside. If not using rice cakes, swirl oil in pan and go to next step.

Add chicken mixture to pan and stir; add water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Return rice cakes to pan halfway through, if using.

Meanwhile, heat broiler.

Remove pan of chicken from heat. Cover chicken with sliced mozzarella, then slide pan under broiler until cheese has melted and browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with scallions. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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