Cheese buldak is a Korean dish that is incredibly easy to prepare: A marinade of red-pepper paste and red-pepper flakes becomes a fiery sauce for braised chicken, which is then served beneath a cloak of broiler-melted mozzarella.
This dish is from Emily Kim, the Korean web star known as Maangchi, whose recipe for cheese buldak has been viewed on YouTube more than 7 million times. Thousands and thousands of comments are posted below it, mostly positive. One reads, “Can you be my mom?”
CHEESE BULDAK (FIRE CHICKEN)
- 1/4 cup gochugaru (Korean red-pepper flakes)
- 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red-pepper paste)
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 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
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 to 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, sliced, for garnish
Combine gochugaru, gochujang, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and black pepper in a medium bowl; mix well. Add chicken, and stir until well coated.
Swirl oil in a large, oven-safe skillet set over medium-high heat and wait for it to shimmer. Add rice cakes and cook, turning often, until they are a little crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Add chicken mixture to pan along with water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, adding rice cakes halfway through.
Meanwhile, heat broiler.
Remove chicken from heat. Cover with sliced mozzarella, then slide pan under broiler. Cook until cheese has melted and browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with scallions. Serve immediately. Serves 2.
THIS STEW is an adaptation of Los Angeles chef Roy Choi’s mother’s recipe for the braised short rib stew known as galbijjim, a staple of neighborhood potlucks and church suppers and, in Choi’s words, “that meal from home that every Korean kid says his or her mom does best.”
It is rich and deeply flavored, thickly sauced and pungent with sugar, spice, soy and garlic. It is the sort of dinner you could put together on a weekend afternoon and serve for nights to come, the best sort of family food.
KOREAN BRAISED SHORT RIB STEW
- 4 pounds bone-in short ribs
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems reserved for another use, halved or quartered if large
- 1 cup jarred, peeled chestnuts
- 1 cup large-dice taro (about a 3-inch piece, peeled)
- 1 cup large-dice carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 1 cup cubed butternut squash (about half a squash, peeled)
- >> Sauce:
- 1 small bunch scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1-1/2 cups soy sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped ginger
- 1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup garlic cloves, peeled (about 2 heads)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/2 cup apple juice
Put short ribs in a bowl and cover with water. Drain; discard water. Repeat twice. Remove short ribs from bowl and score diagonally across top of each piece. Return ribs to bowl; rinse again. Remove; pat dry.
To make sauce: Combine ingredients in blender or food processor, then pulse to puree. Add a little water if needed to thin out sauce so it combines.
Put sauce in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven with a lid, add water and stir to combine. Bring pot to a boil over high heat, then add ribs and lower heat to a simmer. Cover pot.
Cook over low at least 2 hours. Add vegetables, cover and simmer 30 minutes more or so, until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked through. Serve warm. Serves 4 to 6.
>> NOTE: Short ribs produce a good amount of fat. Get rid of the excess by making stew ahead of time, refrigerating it overnight and skimming fat off top. (Reserve fat for cooking potatoes or other root vegetables.) Warm through before serving.
>> Use low-moisture mozzarella. A fresher variety will be too watery.
>> Omit rice cakes and serve with steamed rice, or lettuce leaves and kim chee.
>> To prepare in a slow cooker, reduce water to 2 cups; cook on low 7 to 8 hours. For firmer vegetables, add to slow cooker 5 to 6 hours into cooking.
>> Short ribs may be cooked in a smoker for an hour or two before adding them to the braising liquid.
Nutritional information unavailable.