What happens when you marinate chicken in gochujang (spicy Korean chili paste), honey, ginger and garlic? Deliciousness, that’s what. Sticky Gochujang-Honey Chicken is our newest weeknight favorite: a little sweet, a lot spicy and just plain tasty.
Hey, remember us? Nerds with Knives? The cheeky duo (plus dog) with a pantry full of spice and a devil-may-care attitude to food blogging? It’s been a minute since we’ve had a chance to blog a new recipe but we’re back, and we’re ready to mumble. (I think that’s the correct saying, anyway.)
It may not strictly be the New Year any more, but since this is our first post of 2020, we’re going to pretend that it is. And we wanted to start the year’s posts off with a bang. And when we think “bang”, we think “gochujang”.
If you don’t cook a lot of Korean food, you may be wondering just what gochujang is. It’s a thick, spicy-sweet deep red paste made from chili pepper flakes, glutinous rice (sticky rice), fermented soybeans and salt and it’s a fundamental ingredient in Korean cooking, Along with the spice from the chili and sweetness from the rice, the fermented soybeans also give it a savory, ‘umami’ flavor, similar to miso. It’s absolutely delicious and we always keep a tub of it in our refrigerator to add to anything that might benefit from a spicy-sweet kick (aka everything).
Be aware that different brands of gochujang will vary wildly in terms of spice, from very hot, to quite mild. In our experience, the traditional ones sold in tubs tend to be spicier than the squirt bottles but that’s not a rule. Check the back of the bottle or tub — many brands, including Haechandle, display a “spiciness” indicator from 1 to 5. If you’re not sure of your tolerance, start at level 1 and see how you like it. Note: If you are gluten free, make sure to check the labels because traditional gochujang is made with wheat (Chung Jung One is both gluten free and vegan). You’ll be able to find it in any Asian market, most large grocery stores, or online.
Check out our page on Asian Pantry Basics for more information on gochujang and other tasty ingredients.
The first step in this recipe is to marinate the chicken in a combination of gochujang, garlic, ginger, honey and a little rice vinegar and salt. Just stir all the marinade ingredients together in a big bowl and then add in the chicken and toss it well to make sure that every piece is coated, then cover it with plastic wrap. If you’re in a rush, just it sit on the counter for 30 minutes but if you have the time, marinate it overnight in the refrigerator for even more flavor.
Preheat the oven to 450ºF and set a rack in the middle. Make the glaze by mixing together a little more gochujang and honey with some sesame oil and set it aside. Place the marinated chicken in an oven-proof skillet (we used a 12-inch cast iron), or on a sheet pan. Whichever you use, make sure to keep a little space between each piece so they have room to roast. Depending on the size of the chicken thighs, they may need 30 to 40 minutes, breasts will cook a little quicker so begin checking them at 25 minutes. You want them to be just fully cooked at this point, about 165ºF on an instant read thermometer (a few degrees under is fine at this point).
Brush the glaze on the chicken and pop the pan under the broiler for just a minute or 2 until the skin browns and the glaze bubbles up a bit (you can also just pop it back in the hot oven for another minute or 2). If you use the broiler, watch it carefully because the honey in the glaze can burn quickly.
Once the chicken is fully cooked and glazed, sprinkle it with some toasted sesame seeds and chopped Chinese chives (or scallions). Serve it with any extra glaze or gochujang on the side, along with some limes for squeezing if you like. Steamed rice, noodles or potatoes are a perfect accompaniment, along with Quick Pickled Cucumbers.
We’d promise to deliver more recipes on time in the next few months but, uh, we’re about to go into a major kitchen renovation, so we’re going to be mostly relying on our friends to feed us. But we will post our renovation progress! Until then, Happy New Year!
- ¼ cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or any neutral oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced or grated
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
- 2½ pounds bone-in skin-on chicken pieces (about 6-8 chicken thighs or 4 breasts)
- 1½ tablespoons gochujang
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 scallions or Chinese chives, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 lime, quartered
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF and set a rack in the middle.
- Add the gochujang, oil, garlic, ginger, honey, rice vinegar and 1½ teaspoons salt to a large mixing bowl and stir together until combined. Add the chicken pieces and toss until the chicken is fully coated. Cover with plastic wrap for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 24 hours.
- Place the marinated chicken pieces in a large, oven-proof skillet (we used a 12-inch cast iron) or a sheet tray, and roast until the chicken is just cooked through, 23-35 minutes for beasts, 30 to 40 minutes for thighs (165ºF on an instant read thermometer). Brush each piece with the glaze and set the skillet under the broiler until the skin browns and glaze bubbles, 1 to 2 minutes (or just pop the pan back into the oven for another minute or 2).
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chicken with thinly sliced scallions or chives, and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing and extra glaze or gochujang on the side.