Are you a fan of chicken based dishes? Well, Koreans love it too! Spicy or non spicy, fried or non fried, steamed, boiled, marinated, stewed, you name it, Korea offers some of the best and most delicious chicken based dishes!
Language Tip: dalk (닭) means chicken in Korean. (Pronounced dak.)
Dakgalbi (닭갈비) is one of the most popular Korean dishes among travelers to Korea. This chicken dish is diced chicken cooked in a gochujang (red pepper) based sauce. It is usually mixed with chopped cabbages, onions, rice cakes, and cheese. Koreans like to wrap and eat dalkgalbi with lettuce just like they do with galbi. If you want brand name dalkgalbi, go to the city where it’s from, Chuncheon (춘천). They even have even have a festival dedicated to a day of chicken gluttony every fall, the Dalkgalbi Festival.
Dalkdoritang (닭도리탕 – spicy chicken stew) is a dish with pieces of chicken cooked in a bright red spicy sauce along with vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and onions. Due to its devilish redness in color you may find it a little intimidating to try, but it is usually more flavorful than it is spicy. The chunks of vegetables are hearty, and the sauce is the stuff Koreans love to eat with a spoonful of rice. It’s anyone’s pick for soju or makgeolli as both Korean alcohols are great to pair. YUM!
Samgyetang (삼계탕) is a bowl of hot broth with a whole chicken inside. It is stuffed with glutinous rice, ginseng, jujube, ginkgo nut, and garlic.
Even though it is a hot dish, it is still considered a popular food for summer. Why? Well, during the hot Korean summers, people sweat a lot to cool down the body. However, by losing this internal heat, your appetite reduces and you become listless. By eating this extremely nutritious dish, it replenishes the lost internal warmth in the body, giving people an energy boost. There is a saying in Korea that by fighting the heat you must fight it with heat as well. This is called ‘yi yeol chi yeol’ (이열치열). Despite this information, it doesn’t stop me from eating it in the winters to keep me warm.
Samgyetang is usually eaten on the hottest days of summer: Chobok, Jungbok and Malbok (collectively known as Sambok).
Feel like a cleaner and lighter meal? Then dalkhanmari will be perfect for you and two or three friends. Dalkhanmari (닭한마리) translates to ‘one chicken,’ and that’s exactly what it is. One chicken cooked in a broth of potatoes, kalguksu (noodles), and thinly sliced rice cakes, a perfect serving size for a small group of friends. Chicken purists may like to know that there is no sauce slathered on; there’s only a soy-based dipping sauce for maximum flavor control. For those looking for some famous dalkhanmari, check out the small dalkhanmari alley in Dongdaemun. It’s a back alley of Seoul specially dedicated to dalkhanmari. Check it out!
Buldalk (불닭) is chicken bits stir fried in one of Korea’s spiciest sauces. This anyone knows just from the name. Buldalk literally translates to ‘fire chicken’. And as the name suggests, it is one of the spiciest dishes in Korea. It is famously known to be a sort of ‘stress relief’ food as many Koreans reach for the reddest thing on the table when they’re stressed. In Korea, popular belief says the seeds from the chili pepper make the body produce more endorphins, expand blood vessels, speed up metabolism, and accelerate sweat production. All leading to a happy night full of spicy chicken.
For those that love spicy, but need to take breaks, Koreans usually recommend ordering nurungji (누릉지 – rice porridge) or gyeranjjim (계란찜 – steamed eggs) after a bite to calm down the spiciness in your mouth and stomach. Can you take the heat?
Find this on our list of Spiciest Foods to Try in Seoul!
Originating from the city of Andong, jjimdalk is chicken, boiled or steamed in a rich soy sauce marinade. It’s also served with various chunks of vegetable goodies and those always popular glass noodles. It is seen as a highly nutritious food due to its low ratios of oil content and high ratios of clean white protien. Jjimdalk is very popular amongst students due to the high portion to low cost ratio. A dish to serve four people costs around 20,000 won (about 20 USD). For a highly nutritious and tasty food? What a steal!
Dalkbal (닭발) literally means ‘chicken feet’. Bizarre right? But you’ll be surprised as to how popular this dish is in Korea. Chicken feet is a dish served at Korean bars all over Korea. For some, it’s perfect to pair with a bottle of soju (although just as many prefer makgeolli). Even if you don’t mind having chicken talons scraping the inside of your mouth, you will still need some courage to eat this because it is one of the spiciest foods in Korea!
See this along with our list of Bizarre, Crazy and Weird Foods of Korea!
Fried, boneless, skinless chicken is so popular nowadays that many people will find dalkddongjib (닭똥집) a little grotesque. You think chicken feet is strange? Well, dalkddongjib is often incorrectly translated as chicken anus. Yum. But in actuality, it is a dish of fried chicken gizzards. It has a very chewy texture that some people might find “tough.” That’s why it’s marinated with some sweet spicy sauce to keep your mouth entertain while you continue to chew. What do you think? Yay or nay?
If you’re going to eat like a Korean local, you’ve got to get some fried chicken delivered to your picnic spot near the Han River. This top Korean delivery food is one of the most famous night snacks to have brought to you. It’s also a complimentary food to have whilst watching a baseball game or having a beer. There are generally 2 types of fried chicken: Yangnyeom (양념 – mixed with sweet spicy sauce) fried chicken and nude fried chicken. Either choice is great with some beer and gossip. Chicken and beer is so popular it even has its very own festival in Korea in Daegu.
Not a big fan of donkkasseu, fried pork cutlets? No biggie. There is a chicken version of dontaktsu, the popular Japanese dish served in restaurants all over Korea. Although Japanese in origin, it’s become a very popular and common fast food all around Korea. And Koreans have localized it to add their own unique twists, one of which includes food for chicken lovers. For the chicken version, just order dalkkkaseu, available in some of these specialty shops. Similar to the pork cutlet dish, chicken cutlet is usually served with a side of rice, salad and that signature donkkaseu sauce.
Dalkalguksu is a hot broth of chicken and noodles! ‘Kalguksu’ literally ‘knife noodles’ and it refers to noodles being cut by a knife rather than a spoon. Dalkalguksu is a noodle dish usually served with slices of zucchinis and hand-ripped pieces of chicken in a bowl of green onions drenched in a special vinegar sauce. It may not look refreshing, but eating a piece of chicken sandwiched between vinegar dipped green onions make you cool down a lot after from the heat as well as give you warmth from the cold. Give it a try!
So here you have it! Koreans really do have a special love for chicken whether it’s a chicken breast, leg, feet or stomach. What special chicken based dishes are famous in your country? Let us know in the comments below! ^^
Born and raised in London UK, and currently residing in Korea, Ken Lum Lee is currently an English Teacher at a middle school in Gwangju and the blogger and photographer behind the Korean lifestyle blog Seoul State of Mind. Ken enjoys travelling around Korea, aiming to capture the unique beauties, discover stories and secret hideouts of Korea. Ken can usually be seen with his camera, which is currently the love of his life, and pigging out in Korean BBQ restaurants. Check out his awesome blog: www.seoulstateofmind.com For regular updates, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram