When you type ‘cheese’ in Japanese into Google, one of the very top predictive searches that comes up is ‘cheese dakgalbi,’ which just goes to show how incredibly popular this indulgent Korean dish is in Japan. I remember walking around Shin-Ōkubo, Tokyo’s unofficial Koreatown, a few years ago, and seeing cheese dakgalbi advertised in what seemed like literally every restaurant window. You couldn’t move for cheese dakgalbi. Its appeal is self-evident: chicken and vegetables sautéed in an intoxicatingly tasty Korean chilli sauce, then pushed to the sides of the pan to make way for a lake of liquefied cheese. It’s like Korean barbecue meets fondue, and if that combination doesn’t immediately ring your bells, then I’m not sure you and I can be friends.
For the Sauce
- Gochujang 3 Tbs
- Sake 2 Tbs
- Sugar 1 Tbs
- Soy Sauce 1 Tbs
- Sesame Oil 1 Tsp
- Garlic 2 cloves, grated
- Ginger Root (½ in) piece, peeled and finely grated
- Korean Chilli Powder 1 tsp (optional)
- Chicken Thighs 2, boneless and skin on, cut into bite-size pieces
- Oil 1 Tbs
- Sweet Potato ½ small, peeled and cut into slices no thicker than ¼ inch
- Carrot 1 small, cut into slices no thicker than ¼ inch
- Onion 1 small, finely sliced
- Cabbage ½ a small, cored and roughly chopped
- Edam or Similar Mild Cheese 1 oz, grated
- Processed Cheese 2 slices of, torn up
- Spring Onion 1, finely sliced
- Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce, then toss through the chicken, and leave to marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Set a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat on a portable stove at the table, then add the oil, sweet potato, carrot and onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened a bit and browned slightly.
- Add the cabbage and continue to cook for another 3 minutes until the cabbage has softened and wilted as well.
- Add the chicken and all of the sauce and continue to cook for about 8–10 minutes, stirring frequently until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has reduced to a nice, thick glaze.
- Push all of the food off to the sides of the pan to make a well in the centre, reduce the heat to as low as possible, then add the grated cheese and then the processed cheese on top. Let it melt, garnish with the spring onion, then eat straight from the pan by dragging the chicken and vegetables through the molten cheese.