I’m fairly obsessed with gochujang. I’m the Feed Feed Editor for it and I find ways to work into meals regularly. It is a chile paste, so it has some spice behind it, but when paired with honey, mirin and other sweet ingredients gochujang becomes less about the spice level and more about the depth of flavours. Since I’m a total wimp when it comes to spicy foods it is somewhat ironic that I love gochujang so much. Here, I created Korean Chicken Kebabs with Quick Pickled Vegetables to serve with rice. It’s crazy yummy and comes together quickly.
I had to look up kabob vs kebab to title this recipe. Seriously, the things I Google are probably the most boring topics on the planet to most people. Anyways, I found out (if Google is telling me the truth) that a kabob is also more directed towards meat AND vegetables interspersed on a skewer, while kebab is solely meat on the skewer. And, can we chat about the fact that kids love the idea of kebabs. Food on a stick? You’ll have a line of kids ready to eat dinner with this one. If you’re keen to add vegetables to the skewer, bell peppers, zucchini, and carrots will work well.
What is gochujang? That’s an excellent question. 😉 It’s a chile paste made from chilies (obviously), fermented soy beans, salt, and sticky rice. It’s very thick and a deep crimson colour. For decades gochujang has been a staple in Korean homes. Traditionally used for marinades, added to stews, and added to sauces to accompany dishes like bibimbap. It’s not like the type of hot sauce you’re probably familiar with (sriracha or Tabasco), gochujang is usually added to dishes to create more interest and depth or it should be cut with other ingredients like soy, mirin, honey, etc. when acting as a finishing sauce.
I find gochujang fits perfectly with rice vinegar (they both are made from rice making that a great pairing) and honey. The sweetness of honey balances out the salty/spice levels of gochujang and creates the most wonderful sticky sauce. I have a recipe for some seriously sticky finger goodness chicken wings, here. Although spicy, it’s not crazy burn your mouth spicy. I don’t feed my kids sriracha, but they do eat gochujang.
Quick pickled vegetables are one of the best things to serve with gochujang dishes. The high acidity level cuts through the spicy heat and immediately cools things off. Here, the quick pickled salad has celery, cucumber and green apple in it. All have sharp and fresh flavours and a study texture that can handle being placed in liquid for the “pickling” process. I used the celery tops and leaves in this recipe. At the last cookbook club session (read all about that here), I had the opportunity to try a salad made from the entire celery and I really liked it, not only for saving food waste, but for its flavour. I’ll definitely be adding more celery leaves to my salads in the future. Do you use celery leaves in any way?
Grilled gochujang chicken kebabs are ready in minutes and perfect for an easy dinner with rice and pickled vegetables.
1 hrPrep Time
10 minCook Time
1 hr, 10 Total Time
- 2 chicken breasts, about 1 lbs / 454 gr, cut into 1" chunks
- 2 tbsp gochujang (Korean chile paste)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- Quick pickle vegetables:
- 2 mini cucumbers (or 1/2 long cucumber) thinly sliced
- 1 green apple (Granny Smith), thinly sliced into matchsticks or rounds
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced including leaves and tops
- 1 red (Thai) chile, seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- In bowl (or freezer bag), mix together gochujang, garlic, soy, miring, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Add chicken pieces and toss until coated with gochujang mixture. Chill and allow to marinate for 1-24 hours.
- Preheat grill to high heat.
- Remove chicken from fridge and place chicken pieces on metal or (soaked in cold water) wooden skewers.
- Place skewers (horizontally) on grill and reduce heat to medium.
- Rotate a 1/4 turn every 4 minutes or once the grill side is browned while keeping the lid closed if bbq-ing.
- Meanwhile, whisk together rice vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl. Toss with cucumber, apple, celery and chile.
- Serve kebabs with cooked rice and quick pickled vegetables.
Both recipes inspired by recipes found in Donna Hay’s The New Easy.