Spicy & Sweet Korean-Inspired Chicken

Sweet & Spicy Korean-Inspired Chicken

I love cooking and I love experimenting with different recipes or simply making something up. Many of the dishes I make are fusion dishes of other cultures or variations of Canadian dishes I grew up with. Most recently, I’ve been cooking and experimenting with Korean ingredients and recipes. Not that my love of Korean food is a surprise.

One of my favourite main ingredients to experiment with is chicken because it’s so versatile. I can do just about anything with it and most of my friends & family – whom I often experiment on… err… cook for – love chicken. Actually, they pretty much all do except for the few vegetarian friends I have.

And one of my favourite things to do when cooking chicken is to try out new sauces, rubs and spices on it because no one likes naked chicken! Generally, I try out new sauces as I don’t currently have a BBQ and I find rubs tend to work better on barbecued chicken but maybe… in the future… Seriously, I would love a BBQ. Most of my dream presents have something to do with cooking or my kitchen. You should see my pantry, I have a crazy amount of sauces, spices and other ingredients that I can use to randomly whip up whatever strikes my fancy. And that’s just what I do whenever I get some free time. I love cooking!

Last Labour Day, when I was visiting my parents I decided to use them as guinea pigs for a new idea. You see, I’ve been making bibim guksu (비빔국수), a Korean spicy cold noodle dish a lot recently since I ate my friend’s mom’s version of it and fell in love. It’s perfect for summer. I, of course, asked her mom for the recipe and when she wrote it down for me I learned two things. First, I can’t read Korean handwriting; Korean printing, sure but handwriting is so different. Gia (my friend) had to re-copy it for me (still in Korean but in careful printing so I could read it – the fault is all mine, I need to practice my Korean more!).

But the more interesting thing was that Korean recipes are different from those I’m used to in English. This is because most Korean people cook from memory, not recipes. The recipe was a set of instructions on how to make it, with the ingredients mentioned as you use them rather than listed with measurements at the start. For an experienced cook, especially one that often cooks without measurements, this was no problem but it might intimidate a new cook who’s used to doing exactly what the cookbook says.

But I digress… since I loved the cold noodle dish so much and so did everyone I’ve made it for, I decided to experiment with it a bit… okay, a lot. I kept the sauce, changed up the veggies, removed the noodles (mainly because I forgot them), added chicken, and served it over a bed of rice. It turned out a little spicy for my Mom (who usually can’t handle spicy food) but my Dad and I enjoyed it. 

Want to know what I made? Here’s the recipe:

Sweet & Spicy Korean-Inspired Chicken in the wok

Spicy & Sweet Korean-Inspired Chicken


  • 4 chicken breasts, cubed into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp gochujang (고추장, Korean red pepper paste)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard (bok choy can also be used), washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium apple; cored, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (for garnish)
  • sesame oil (for drizzling) 


1. Mix together the sauce ingredients (gochujang, honey, rice vinegar, soy sauce) in a medium-sized bowl (I recommend a stainless steel bowl so it won’t stain). The quantity of the sauce can be increased or decreased depending on how spicy you like your food but keep the ratio (2:2:1:1) the same (I doubled it for mine). Set aside.

2. Wash and prepare swiss chard and apple

3. Add chicken to a large wok on medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

4. Add sauce, stir and bring to a soft/rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce and simmer for 5 minutes.

5. Add the chopped swiss chard. Stir to coat it and put a lid on the wok. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

6. Add the apple, stir and simmer (with lid on) for 3-5 minutes until apple is just soft. Garnish with sesame seeds and drizzle some sesame oil on top. Serve over a bed of rice.

Tip #1: Gochujang is available in any Korean grocery store, many Asian grocery stores and even some chain grocery stores.

Tip #2: If you use bone-in chicken breasts, you can make a delicious broth with the bones after you remove them. Plus it’s cheaper!

The soup I made afterwards from the chicken breast bones

Want to find some more great chicken receipes? Be sure to check out the Chicken Farmer’s of Canada’s website. Don’t forget to cover up your legs, thighs and breasts! No one likes naked… chicken. ^^ #NoNakedChicken

Disclosure: I am participating in the Chicken Farmers of Canada program by She’s Connected. I received compensation in exchange for my participation in this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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