Cheese Buldak (Korean Fire Chicken)

Difficulty Easy

Satisfy all your spicy cravings with Korean Cheese Buldak. Also known as Fire Chicken, it’s a super spicy chicken that will make your mouth burn! Tender, juicy, bite-sized chicken. Red, spicy sauce. A generous shower of mozzarella adds cheesy decadence. A mouth-watering one-pan meal!

What is Cheese Buldak or Korean Fire Chicken?

Do you love spicy food? If so, you MUST try Cheese Buldak — a popular South Korean street food that’s well known and much beloved for its intensely spicy flavor.

Cheese Buldak, also called Fired Chicken, features tender, juicy chicken grilled over charcoal and coated with a super spicy, fiery sauce. The smoky, charred edges on the chicken and deeply delicious sauce make this a mouth-watering favorite.

Make it extra special with chewy rice cakes and a generous coating of mozzarella cheese. The melted cheese complements the saucy, spicy chicken and mitigates some of that fiery flavor.

The intense flavors for Buldak Chicken come from a variety of seasonings. Gochujang (Korean chili paste), Gochukaru (Korean chili flakes). But for that searing heat, Scotch Bonnet chili peppers are essential!

How spicy is it? The spice level is mouth-burning, nose-dripping, and forehead-wiping spice. The kind that leaves you spooning more rice into your bowl and constantly reaching for the water glass.

In recent years, Buldak (translated “Fire Chicken”) has become a popular flavor in Korean cuisine. Buldak sauce packets and Buldak ramen have become popular flavors. It always means the same thing: mouth burning spice!

Ingredients

  • Chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs stay tender and juicy. If you prefer, swap with chicken breast.
  • Chicken marinade: soy sauce, Mirin (sweet cooking wine), and honey.
  • Fire Sauce: Gochukaru (red pepper flakes), Gochujang (red pepper spicy paste), soy sauce, sesame oil, Mirin (sweet cooking wine), and sugar.
  • Scotch Bonnet Peppers. Creates that ultra-spicy flavor profile. Remove the seeds for less spicy flavor.
  • Asian pear. Adds sweetness and a nice texture. Substitutions: Bartlett or Bosc pear OR Fuji or Gala apple.
  • Onion + Garlic.
  • Korean Rice Cakes (dduk/tteok). Although optional, chewy rice cakes take Cheese Buldak to another level! Choose the shape you like best. If frozen, make sure to defrost by soaking in cold water.
  • Mozzarella Cheese. For that spectacular cheese pull at the end. FYI low-moisture mozzarella works better than fresh mozzarella.

How to make Korean Cheese Buldak

  1. Marinate the chicken.
  2. Brown the chicken.
  1. Make the spicy “fire” sauce in the food processor.
  2. Add spicy “fire” sauce to the chicken.
  3. Cook until the sauce is reduced and somewhat thick. 
  1. Add Korean rice cakes (dduk). 
  2. Cover with mozzarella cheese.
  3. Bake gently until the cheese melts.

PRO Tips

  • GENTLY melt the cheese. A slow melt will ensure the cheese doesn’t harden and burn.
  • Make ahead. Cheese Buldak is easy to make ahead, up to 1 day in advance. Complete all the steps except DO NOT add the cheese or rice cakes. When ready to serve, heat the chicken and fire sauce until hot and bubbly on the stovetop. Add dduk and cheese then gently melt in the oven.
  • Adjust spice level. Feel free to adjust the spicy level to your liking. Use 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper instead of 2, remove the seeds, or leave out the Scotch Bonnet Peppers entirely.

What kind of pan should I use?

To make at home, I recommend a cast iron skillet.

A heavy pan made of cast iron will char the chicken beautifully. All those tasty, browned bits add so much flavour. Cast iron skillets also transfer easily from stovetop to oven. And makes this chicken recipe a one-pot meal!

I’ve tried cooking Cheese Buldak in a normal frying pan (non-stick skillet, stainless steel skillet, and enameled cast iron braiser). But the end result is not as delicious, deeply flavored, or easy to serve.

*FYI: cast iron is porous and absorbs the flavor of the fire sauce. After making Cheese Buldak, the skillet will impart a slightly spicy flavor to whatever you cook next — no matter how hard you clean or scrub the pan.

Serve with

More Spicy Food Inspiration

hand pulling cheese buldak from cast iron skillet

Cheese Buldak (Korean Fire Chicken) Recipe

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
Satisfy all your spicy cravings with Cheese Buldak or Korean Fire Chicken. This South Korean street dish will make your mouth burn. Rich, intensely spicy, and smothered in gooey cheese. Fiery Perfection.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Korean
Servings 4
Calories 888 kcal

Equipment

  • 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet
  • Food processor (You can also grate the onion and Asian pear with a box grater)

Ingredients
  

Chicken Marinade

  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch long strips
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin or rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp honey (sugar also works)
  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil

Fire Sauce

  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1/2 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1/2 large Asian pear peeled, cored, roughly chopped (can be subbed with Bosc pear, Bartlett pear, Fuji apple, Gala apple)
  • 2 Scotch Bonnet Peppers stemmed (keep the seeds), or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp Gochukaru (Korean red chili flakes)
  • 3 Tbsp Gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Cheese pull

  • 1 cup Rice Cakes (dduk)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella loosely packed (about 8 oz)

Instructions
 

  • Combine Chicken marinade ingredients in large bowl.  Mix with spoon.  Add chicken.  Mix until well combined.  Cover and place in fridge.  
    (Marinate at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight.)  
  • If your rice cakes are frozen, add to a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside. (Rice cakes can keep this way, tightly sealed, in the fridge for 2-3 days).
  • Place Fire Sauce ingredients in food processor. Puree until no large chunks remain. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350F/176C.
  • Heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 1 Tbsp of oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken. Brown the chicken in batches, one layer at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan. It's ok if the chicken is not fully cooked.
    Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat process until all the chicken is cooked.
  • Place all the browned chicken back into the skillet. Pour the Fire Sauce on top, making sure to scrape every last bit with a spatula. Mix around with a spatula until chicken is completely coated in sauce.
  • Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the sauce becomes dark red, thick, and reduced, about 12-15 minutes. The chicken and sauce should bubble somewhat vigorously. Lower heat, if needed. Feel free to add water if the sauce looks too dry (about 1 Tbsp at a time). Keep an eye on the sauce, mixing it from time to time.
  • Remove skillet from heat.  Drain rice cakes and scatter over the chicken and fire sauce mixture.  
  • Sprinkle the cheese on top of the rice cakes and chicken, making sure to coat evenly.
  • Place skillet in oven until cheese melts, about 5-10 minutes. It should be a gentle melting of cheese. Watch carefully and make sure it doesn't overcook!
  • Remove from oven.  Garnish with sliced green onion and sprinkle of sesame seeds, if desired. Serve immediately with rice and enjoy!

Notes

*If you don’t own a cast iron skillet, you can also cook all the components in a stainless steel or non-stick skillet.   If the skillet is oven safe, trasnfer directly to the oven to melt the cheese.  If the skillet is NOT oven safe, transfer to a baking dish after the chicken has cooked in the sauce. Then, add the rice cakes (dduk) and cheese. Bake in the oven, as per usual.
**When browning the chicken, you may need to add more oil depending on your cast iron skillet. My cast iron skillet is well seasoned after years of use so 1 Tbsp was perfect.

Nutrition

Serving: 0gCalories: 888kcalCarbohydrates: 64gProtein: 86gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 359mgSodium: 2077mgPotassium: 1202mgFiber: 5gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 2208IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 512mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Cheese Buldak, chicken
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All Recipes, Chicken, Dinner with Friends, Game Day Food, Gochujang, Holiday, Korean, Main, Potluck

7 Comments

  1. Are the rice cakes pre-cooked, or added raw?

    • They come in the package, already pre-cooked. But you will need to heat them up so they are chewy and squishy. I take the rice cakes directly from the bag and add to the saucy chicken. While the cheese melts, it should be enough time to heat the rice cakes — about 5-10 minutes, as recommended in the recipe card. Enjoy!

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  5. Made this for lunch and love it! What an amazing combination of taste, texture, east, west, and the addition of rice cake!

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