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Sweet and Spicy Korean Chicken

Sweet and spicy Korean chicken is a dish I grew up on.  It was a staple in my mother’s repertoire as it took as little as 15 minutes from pot to plate.

To bolster the base, she often added in potatoes but you can certainly keep this as straightforward as I have or add on to it as you like.  Either way, you’ll end up with flavorful and succulent chicken, cooked in sweet and spicy Korean sauce.  Don’t like the heat?  You can scale back the gochujang {Korean red pepper paste} or add in more honey.  Don’t like sweet?  You can easily omit it altogether and add in chiles.  Don’t like potatoes?  Try wilting in some greens.  The point of this recipe is that it’s quick and easy while still being delicious and adaptable to your taste.

When time is not of the essence, I like the sauce/marinade to soak in.  It doesn’t really need longer than 15 minutes.  It’s something my mother never did and we always enjoyed this meal.  She would pile it over hot sticky rice with a side of kimchi and other veggie side dishes.  I remember my baby brothers would specially request it if too much time went by without it as it served as a classic dish while we were growing up.  To this day, the smell of it makes me think of being a child, in our home and looking forward to my very favorite time of day {supper, duh!}

Since taking this dish with me as I’ve moved further away from home, it’s always yielded some reassurance, no matter where I am.  It’s also not “too exotic” to serve to my more timid colleagues that aren’t familiar with Korean cuisine.  At the end of the day, chicken and rice seems to prevail as a common comfort food, no matter which way you spin it.  I’ve played around with it over the years but the chicken and rice combo still wins for me, though, I’ve served it on quinoa, risotto, polenta, mashed potatoes and pasta and garnished it with everything from cilantro to crushed nuts.  Still, the base remains the same…delicious, comforting and familiar.

Sweet and Spicy Korean Chicken
Cook time

Total time


Serves: 2 servings

  • 1 tb Korean red pepper paste
  • 1 ts toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ts honey
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 ts grated ginger
  • 2 chopped chicken quarters or breasts

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the pepper paste, sesame oil, honey, garlic and ginger.
  2. Massage the chicken into the sauce/marinade. Let sit for 15 minutes on the counter.
  3. In a frying pan glazed with ½ tb sesame oil, cook the marinated chicken.
  4. Serve over rice and garnish as desired.


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