Dak-dori-tang 닭도리탕 (Korean Spicy Chicken Stew)

North or South, Koreans share a universal love for spicy food, and it doesn’t get much more fiery than this hearty stew.

Dak-dori-tang (spicy chicken stew), also known as dak-bokkeum-tang, is a perennial Korean classic, and though the recipe varies across the peninsula it is almost always both fierce and comforting at the same time. Traditionally made from a whole chopped chicken, onions and potato, the recipe can be adapted to your tastes and needs. Though skinned chicken breasts can be used, I personally prefer using boned thighs – they hold up better against the robust sauce, and don’t tend to dry out during the intense cooking process. With regards to the vegetables, again the recipe can be modified to include almost anything you have to hand: carrots, daikon, leeks – all make excellent additions.

Though classified as a stew, dak-dori-tang is actually more of a braise as the liquid is reduced over a high heat, leaving you with a thick and spicy sauce. As the cooking time is quite short (about 30 minutes), it is best to par-cook the harder vegetables before adding them to the sauce. If you opt to use bone-in chicken, it is important to use equal size pieces, making sure that they are well-browned beforehand and you adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Dak-dori-tang 닭도리탕 (Korean Spicy Chicken Stew)

Dak-dori-tang made with chicken pieces on the bone.

Although spicy by nature, dak-dori-tang is no less delicious when made slightly milder, if preferred. Despite their volcanic appearance, Korean chili powder (gochutgaru) and chili paste (gochujang) are actually not anywhere near as hot as they look, making it is quite easy to adjust the dish’s heat without being at the expense of flavour. They actually add a wonderful earthy, smoky undertone, and are definitely worth a trip down to your nearest Asian Supermarket. Though generally quite expensive, both have a very long shelf-life and if you plan to make Korean food they are essential Pantry items. Keep an eye out for Chinese brands as these are often considerably cheaper than their Korean counterparts, with no discernible difference in taste. On that note, a word of warning: under no circumstances should you substitute gochutgaru with any other type of chili powder. Anything else will be way too hot and will undoubtedly be the ruin of your dinner.

Disaster awaits all who are even tempted to try…

For more Korean recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here.

For tips on stocking a Korean Pantry, please click here

Serve with: freshly cooked white rice along with a select of banchan (Korean side dishes) – I suggest some simple stir-fried cabbage and, of course, a generous portion of mak kimchi!

Dak-dori-tang 닭도리탕 (Korean Spicy Chicken Stew)


  • 400 g Boned Chicken Thighs (skin-on if preferred)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 baby leeks (or 1 large leek/spring onion)
  • 3 green chilies, chopped into large pieces

Spice Paste: 

  • 1-3 tbsp Korean chili powder (gochutgaru)
  • 1-3 tbsp Korean chili paste (gochujang)
  • 3 cm fresh ginger, grated and juiced (otherwise, very finely chopped will do)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated or crushed
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine (dry sherry, vodka, sake will do)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds


  1. Dice your potato and carrots into similar sized pieces, then parboil them till they lose just a bit of their bite. This can either be in a pot of rapidly boiling water, or for two minutes in the microwave, covered with a splash of water. Drain and set aside
  2. Cut the onion into wedges, and the spring onion and baby leeks into 5 cm lengths (if using a large leek, cut into thick rings). Rinse the leeks thoroughly.
  3. Mix the spice paste ingredients in a bowl
  4. Cut your chicken into medium sized chucks, then season with salt and pepper
  5. Heat up the oil in a large pot, or wok
  6. Add the chicken. Fry till sealed and slightly golden
  7. Add the onion wedges and leeks, as well as the parboiled vegetables (keep the spring onion and chilies aside). Stir fry for a couple of minutes
  8. Add 3 cups of water, then half of the spice paste. Stir to combine, then bring up to a strong simmer. Cook steadily for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce reduces by half
  9. Mix in the rest of the spice paste
  10. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for another 10 -15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the meat and vegetables
  11. Add the chopped chilies and spring onion
  12. Stir through a couple of times before taking off the heat
  13. Sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds just before serving


For more Korean recipes from The Muddled Pantry, please click here.

For tips on stocking a Korean Pantry, please click here


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