Some days you just need a little spicy Korean chicken to get you through.
Back when I used to turn a blind eye to all the gluten in my Asian food, I was a regular in Koreatown, a little three block stretch in Midtown Manhattan. Any cuisine that includes countless little bowls of condiments and garnishes has my heart. And even more so when they accompany a hot cauldron of crispy rice and gooey egg.
For my 28th birthday, I took over a room of one of my favorite restaurants in the neighborhood and had the tables covered in bibimbap, japchae, and random hot pots of spicy seafood and meats. I was fairly cavalier back then (pre-The Wellness Project) about dousing my noodles with Gochujang, the fermented Korean hot sauce which normally has some wheat in it, while my friends who were much more conscientious about my dietary restrictions, finished the meal by presenting me with a giant bowl filled to the brim with gummy candies with a candle in the middle. #Blessed.
The one iconic Korean dish that I knew was off limits, though, was fried chicken—both the crispy, breaded variety, and the sweet, sticky sauced wings. Since the latter doesn’t involve a deep fryer (and I’ve since found my gluten-free Korean fried chicken fix at Talde and White Tiger in Brooklyn), I’ll often make a gluten-free version at home for a quick weeknight meal.
In the weeks leading up to our move, these Korean spicy chicken thighs with gluten-free Gochujang sauce were a staple of our lazy at-home diet. They can be made start to finish in a heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet, which was particularly helpful when the majority of our other pots and pans were packed in boxes. And besides the chicken, we had almost all of the ingredients already on hand, not-yet packed into boxes.
You could easily adapt the sauce and use it to glaze oven-baked wings, but I love the way crispy chicken thighs give you the best of both worlds: crunchy, sticky skin, and enough meat to make it feel like a real meal. I served them over white rice and some quick sautéed chard with ginger and lime.
This Korean spicy chicken was so delicious, in fact, that it even became the subject of a mid-move meltdown when Charlie ate the remaining thighs in the fridge for lunch and I arrived home, after having thought about them all day, to nothing. As I said, some days you just really need some spicy Korean chicken to get you through…
Luckily all’s well that ends well, and all usually ends well when the homemade delicacy you’re replacing only takes 25 minutes and some pantry condiments to recreate. Which I did twice more that week.
Read on for this one pan spicy Korean chicken recipe, and if you choose to follow it up with a giant bowl of gummy candy for dessert, I’m not judging.
With health and hedonism,
One Pan Korean Spicy Chicken Thighs with Gluten-Free Gochujang Sauce
This Korean spicy chicken recipe comes together quickly and easily in one pan. The sauce is gluten-free can be made low FODMAP by excluding the garlic and following the other recommendations in the notes section. I served these delicious thighs over a simple rice with sautéed red chard doused with fresh ginger and a little bit of lemon juice.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Set a large cast iron oven-proof skillet over a high flame. Season the chicken generously with salt and arrange in the pan skin-side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Flip the thighs and cook for another 3 minutes on the stove, then transfer the pan to the oven. Bake the chicken until the skin has rendered even more fat and the thighs are tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil, tamari, gochujang, vinegar, maple syrup, ginger and garlic.
- Remove the chicken to a plate and set the pan over medium-low heat. Add the sauce and cook, stirring frequently, until it has thickened and reduced by half, 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and toss to coat. Garnish with the scallions and serve over rice and gingery greens.
To make this recipe low FODMAP, simply omit the garlic and use only the green parts of the scallions for garnish. Note that some gochujang brands include a small amount of garlic and onion. If you can't find one without, you can instead use 1 tablespoon of miso paste and a teaspoon or two of sambal olek for heat.