Dak Galbi (Stir-fried Spicy Chicken)

A spicy stir-fried chicken dish made with boneless chicken pieces, rice cakes (tteokbokki tteok), green cabbage, sweet potato, and other vegetables. It’s a restaurant favorite in Korea, but you can easily recreate at home with this recipe!

What is dakgalbi?

Dakgalbi (닭갈비), or dakgalbi, is a spicy stir-fried chicken dish made with boneless chicken pieces, rice cakes (tteokbokki tteok, 떡볶이떡), and some vegetables. Dak means chicken, and galbi means ribs. But, there are no ribs in this dish. Back in the day, pork ribs (dweji galbi) were too expensive for everyday grilling, so a restaurant cook created a similarly flavored dish with chicken instead and called it dakgalbi.

This dish is very popular all over Korea, especially in Chuncheon (춘천), a city in Gangwon Province (강원도), where the dish originated in the 1960’s. During one of my trips to Korea, I took a day trip to Chuncheon with a couple of friends. I always loved the dakgalbi I had in Seoul, but this time I wanted to experience the dish where it was born.

Chucheon is a small city which is about an hour driving distance from Seoul. It’s a beautiful city with mountains and lakes, but most of all it boasts hundreds of dakgalbi restaurants. We went to the famous dakgalbi alley with a high concentration of restaurants. We picked the one that looked busy from the outside. It was past lunch time, but the place was still bustling.

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How is it served?

Each table was equipped with a gas stove and a large round grill pan, which is pretty standard at typical dak galbi restaurants. We ordered 3 servings. Shortly after, the waitress brought out a tray full of red spicy marinated chicken, freshly cut cabbage, sweet potatoes, and rice cakes. She then dumped everything on the pan that was being preheated in the middle of the table. The chicken started to sizzle immediately, and the smell was incredible. We had to patiently wait for everything to be through, stirring occasionally.

Recipe Card 23 - Dak Galbi (Stir-fried Spicy Chicken)

When the rice cakes and sweet potato pieces turn tender, the chicken is also ready to eat. We couldn’t stop eating! We ate some wrapped in lettuce and perilla leaves. It was so delicious!!

Typically, dak galbi is not served with rice, but it’s customary to mix in some rice into the leftovers at the end to make fried rice. At restaurants, you have to order the rice separately to do this. We were very full, but had to have some fried rice.

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Dakgalbi Ingredients

Chicken: I usually use boneless chicken thighs, but de-boned chicken leg meat is also commonly used for this dish.

Rice cakes (tteokbokki tteok)

Vegetables: green cabbage, goguma (Korean sweet potatoes), kkaennip (perilla leaves), scallions

Sauce: The sauce is made with a few basic Korean staples, such as gochugaru, gochujang, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, garlic, ginger, etc. It sometimes contains Korean curry powder, which is a pre-made mixture, for extra boost of flavor.

How to make dakgalbi

This popular restaurant dish is so easy to make at home. You can double the sauce recipe and keep the half in the fridge. You will definitely want to make it again soon.

Mix all the sauce ingredients well in a bowl, and marinate the bite size chicken pieces while preparing the vegetables. Reserve some sauce if you’re going to make fried rice at the end. Cut the cabbage, sweet potato, kkaennip, and scallion into small pieces.

Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes, rice cakes, and cabbages. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat if the ingredients (especially the rice cakes) stick to the pan. The steam from the vegetables should keep them from sticking to the pan, but you can also add about 1/4 cup of water.

Add the kkaennip and scallion and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the rice cake and the sweet potato pieces turn soft. By then the chicken should be cooked through as well.

To make fried rice, add the rice to the pan along with the reserved sauce and sesame oil. Stir constantly until everything is well incorporated and the clumped up rice is broken up, about 5 minutes. Scrape up the flavorful brown bits from the pan while stirring. Mix in the crumbled dried seaweed, sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Dakgalbi variations

These days, cheese dakgalbi is highly popular. Some restaurant dakgalbi pans in Korea even have a section for cheese. Mozzarella is typical, but you can use pizza blend or any of your favorite cheese. If using, add it with 2 to 3 minutes remaining at the end.

DSC4873 - Dak Galbi (Stir-fried Spicy Chicken)

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DSC4809 3 500x500 - Dak Galbi (Stir-fried Spicy Chicken)

Dak Galbi (Spicy Stir-fried Chicken)

Main Course

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 4

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Optional Fried Rice

  • Reheat the pan with any leftover chicken and vegetables and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat. Add the rice to the pan along with the reserved sauce. Stir constantly until everything is well incorporated and the clumped up rice is broken up, about 5 minutes. Scrape up the flavorful brown bits from the pan while stirring. Tear or cut the dried seaweed into small pieces, and stir into the rice. Finish off with the sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil if you want.

This dak galbi recipe was originally posted in November 2014. I’ve updated it with new photos, more information, and minor adjustments to the recipe.

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