I can make you three guarantees about going out for food in Korea. You will stuff yourself, you will leave the restaurant blasted and you won’t believe that you only paid 10,000 Won per person. While in Korea we discovered the most satisfying of comfort foods – Dak Galbi fried rice. It is a very popular meal among university students because it is cheap and incredibly delicious. Since you are given the option of adding mozzarella cheese to the middle, we titled this dish “Cheesy Rice”. That name stuck and became so popular among our friends and acquaintances that if you speak of Dak Galbi in our circle you will get blank stares, mention Cheesy Rice and you will get smiles and nods.
In Korea we frequented a restaurant chain that specialized in Dak Galbi assortments called Yougane. It was hard to resist something so good when the tab came to only 13 dollars. Back in Toronto we were on a prowl. While at a Korean grocery store Jonathan showed a picture of Cheesy Rice to someone and then was directed to follow a Korean lady to the restaurant that served this dish. It was good, but it still wasn’t the same. While in Korea, I knew that our time in Korea was finite and this was one dish that I had to try to recreate back home. There are no real recipes online for this particular dish so I had to improvise. By improvising I mean try to copy exactly what was in the cast iron pot in front of us all those times.
We remembered there were green onions, seaweed, tteokbokki, kimchi and of course the dak galbi sauce. I was unsure about what to do for the sauce so I just bought one at a store. We made a test run and it turned out well, but something was still missing. I forgot to add tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes), as tasteless and bland as they are they are still an essential part of the dish. Also, I decided that the dish needed more kick, more gochujang (Korean chili paste).
So we invited a group of friends, bought Soju and Hite and replicated the best comfort dish in Korea.
Recipe ( serves 4 people)
4 cups cooked rice
1 cup of Dak Galbi sauce or spicy chicken marinade found in Korean/Asian stores
4 chicken thighs, marinated overnight in Dak Galbi sauce
1 stalk of green onions
1/4 cup of cut up dried seaweed
1 cup kimchi
1 1/2 cup of tteokboki
1 to 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
gochujang for extra kick 🙂
1. Cut chicken thighs into small pieces, add dak galbi sauce and tablespoon (or more) of gochujang. Marinate overnight.
2. Cook Korean rice at least couple of hours before the main event. I find that leaving rice in the fridge overnight makes it very dry, so I do it earlier and leave it to cool on the counter.
3. Boil water and set aside. Place tteokboki in the water so they can soften before you fry them with the whole dish.
4.Cook the chicken on a big pan for 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Add more gochujang if you feel like it isn’t spicy enough. Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked, add rice, green onions, tteokbokki, seaweed and combine everything with two spatulas. Make sure that the sauce is evenly coating all of the rice and that there are no lumps. Add more gochujang if you like (can never go wrong).
5. Once the rice is evenly coated with sauce create a crater in the middle of the pan. Leave half the mix at the bottom and spread the rest of the mix along the side. Add cheese to the centre and gently cover the cheese with the rice mix from the sides. Once the cheese is melted, dig in.
I recommend that you serve with Somek (Korean beer mixed with Soju), kimchi and pickled yellow radish.