One thing we have to admit about Asian foods is that they’re just on another level! In fact, if you’re looking for something that will take your dining experience to the next level, you might want to consider working with an Asian recipe.
And amongst all the Asian culinary delights, one dish that’s becoming more popular is the Korean barbecue (BBQ) chicken legs – and for a good reason!
The mouthwatering Korean dish offers an exhilarating departure from the ordinary and is a great way to leave a lasting impression on your tastebuds.
In this blog post, I’ll provide the lowdown on all essentials necessary for the recipe and a step-by-step guide on how you can go about the preparation. Of course, there’s more for you to discover as we journey on, so follow closely.
Gather All The Ingredients
Like any other recipe, you must first get all the necessary ingredients. Some of these essentials are already in your kitchen, but you can always grab whatever is missing from the store.
- 8 chicken drumsticks: This is the primary ingredient when making Korean chicken barbeque. It’s a protein-rich component that provides the meaty foundation for your new recipe. You could use chicken thighs as well or a combination of the two.
- 8 cloves of garlic (minced): You will use this ingredient when preparing the marinade. Garlic has a pungent and aromatic effect on your marinade that’s sure to improve the overall taste profile of your dish.
- 4 tablespoons of brown sugar: This ingredient is also meant to go into the BBQ sauce and will enhance its sweetness. Plus, brown sugar caramelizes on the chicken’s surface when cooking, improving the overall look and taste.
- 5 scallions: You will need the white bottoms to give the marinade a mildly pungent flavor without overpowering the other ingredients. The green tops, however, will add color and crunchiness when used for garnishing.
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce: It’s a key seasoning agent that will boost the overall taste of the marinade and add depth and umami to the dish. It also has a complex flavor that will create a satisfying taste when combined with other ingredients.
- 1/2 cup of honey: The natural sweetness of honey will ensure a perfect balance between the umami and savory flavors of the marinade. In addition, honey provides a caramelized effect to the chicken legs, making them just as appealing visually as they’re to the taste.
- 1/2 cup of rice vinegar: You’ll need it because of its subtle acidity that will bring out the best of all other ingredients. Plus, rice vinegar acts as a tenderizer, ensuring that the chicken legs are more tender with a succulent texture.
- 5 tablespoons of cornstarch: Cornstarch is an effective thickening agent for the marinade. It also forms a protective layer that seals all the juices in for a moist and tender chicken.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil: You’ll need to apply this ingredient to the pan to prevent the chicken legs from sticking to the surface when cooking.
- 5 teaspoons of ground or fresh ginger: This component gives your dish a vibrant and distinct flavor and complements all other marinade ingredients. It also breaks down the proteins in the meat for a more tender outcome.
- 3 tablespoons of Korean chili paste (Gochujang): It adds spiciness to the dish and gives it an authentic Korean flavor.
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oil: It will improve the taste and flavor of the dish by enhancing its depth and complexity. You can substitute it with olive oil at a ratio of 1:1 if you need a more neutral impact on your food.
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds: Using sesame seeds for this recipe will give it an aromatic taste, improve the crunchiness of the meal and make it even more visually appealing.
- Red pepper flakes: While it’s not a necessity, you may want to consider bringing it on board if you want some spiciness in your food. Ensure to start with a small amount to avoid too much heat.
5 Easy Steps to Cook Korean BBQ Chicken Legs
Once you have all the essentials, follow this comprehensive guide to prepare mouthwatering Korean BBQ chicken legs.
Step 1: Start off with the Marinade
Before you start the cooking process, begin by preparing the BBQ sauce. Here, you will need to bring in all other ingredients except the chicken and the top green parts of the scallions.
Here’s the correct way to go about it:
- In a saucepan on a stove, combine sesame oil and cornstarch and heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Stick to medium heat when doing this.
- Reduce the heat and introduce garlic, rice vinegar, ginger, soy, honey, Korean chili paste, and brown sugar.
- Heat the combination for a few minutes, preferably 5, for them to combine perfectly.
- Once the five minutes are over, add the remaining ingredients meant to go into the sauce. That includes the white bottoms of scallions, sesame seeds (reserve some for garnishing), and red pepper flakes, and cook for a few minutes until it comes to a simmer. Remember to stir the combination as you heat the marinade to ensure that all ingredients are evenly distributed across the entire sauce.
- Remove it from the heat and let it cool for some time.
Step 2: Marinate the Chicken Legs
Once the marinade is ready and cooled, it’s time to do the coating.
Place the chicken legs into a resealable plastic bag before pouring the marinade into it. Remember to spare some BBQ sauce for use in the cooking process.
Then, slightly massaging it, turn the bag to ensure the chicken legs are well-coated with the barbeque sauce. This will ensure the even distribution of all the flavors across the entire chicken.
Once the chicken legs are evenly coated, reseal the bag and place it in the refrigerator for about 6 hours. If possible, consider leaving it overnight to allow the chicken more time to drink up the flavors. But as you do so, flip the bag occasionally to avoid having some chicken parts absorb more sauce than others.
If you don’t have a resealable plastic bag, use a shallow plastic dish. But cover it well before placing it in the refrigerator for proper interaction between the marinade and the chicken and to avoid leaving any odors inside your refrigerator.
Step 3: Preheat The Grill
Once you’re ready to cook the chicken legs, heat the grill on high heat for about 15 minutes. Then, turn the heat setting to a medium-high, preferably 325°F/160°C before introducing your marinated chicken.
Of course, you must also ensure the grates are clean and generously oiled to prevent your chicken legs from sticking to the surface when cooking.
Step 4: Grill the Chicken
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and gently shake each piece to remove excess marinade.
Then, cook the chicken legs on the preheated grill, turning each piece as necessary to even out the heat exposure. Keep turning for about 25 to 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes, baste the chicken legs using the reserved marinade and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning the pieces as necessary for even cooking. Rebaste and cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken legs look cooked and the juices run clear.
Use a meat thermometer to confirm whether the chicken legs are well-cooked by placing it into the thickest part of the chicken. The thermometer should display an instant reading of about 165°F (74°C) if the chicken is adequately cooked.
Step 5: Let Rest Before Garnishing
Once the chicken legs are perfectly cooked, remove them from the grill. Use a long-handled tong or any other tool to remove the pieces from the hot grill and place them on a clean, dry plate or platter.
Allow the chicken to rest for a bit before serving. Waiting will allow the chicken to reabsorb the juices that had moved closer to the surface during cooking.
You can garnish the chicken with sesame seeds and chopped green scallion tops to improve the aesthetic appeal. Also, you can add sliced chili if you need more heat on your dish. Only be careful not to overdo it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to Serve with Korean-Style Bbq Chicken?
You can serve Korean BBQ chicken with rice, including cauliflower rice, white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or broccoli rice; stir-fried vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, and carrots; appetizers like Wontons, potstickers, Chinese chicken egg rolls; fruits such as grilled pineapple, creamy grape salad, and more.
What Can I Use Instead of Korean Chili Paste?
Unfortunately, there isn’t any product that you can bring in to replace Korean chili paste and expect to get the same results or even anything close. This ingredient imparts bold and complex flavors you won’t get using any other type of chili.
But if you can’t completely get your hands on gochujang, try using sriracha or red pepper paste. They won’t deliver a similar outcome as Korean chili paste, but they’re the closest subs you can find out there.
How Do I Cook Korean Bbq Chicken Legs in An Oven?
If you don’t want to grill the chicken legs for whatever reason, baking them in an oven is another great way to get impressive results. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake the chicken for 30-35 minutes. Check to see that the chicken’s internal temperature is 165°F (74°C) to avoid undercooking the chicken.
Of course, you’ll need to like the baking with baking paper or aluminum foil (with the shiny part facing down).