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Spicy fans, get ready for grilled gochujang chicken thighs

Gretchen McKay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Now that it’s officially barbecue season, you might be looking for a few new recipes to freshen up your family’s grill offerings. If they love anything and everything spicy, and feel equally passionate about Asian food, this easy recipe from Simply Recipes’ inaugural digital issue could be a great place to start.

Made with one of the more economical parts of a chicken — bone-in thighs — it gets a sweet and peppery kick from gochujang, a spicy paste used in Korean cooking that’s made from fermented red chilies and fermented soybeans. It’s paired with a crunchy cucumber salad that whips together in minutes and cools the palate with its refreshing mix of rice vinegar and soy.

You can find gochujang in most Asian markets and larger grocery stores. (It comes in a tub, and those with wheat allergies should note that it is not gluten-free.) A seedless cucumber works best in the salad, but no worries if all you have is a regular cuke — it will taste just as fresh and crunchy. Also feel free to substitute boneless, skinless thighs for bone-in for a quicker cook time.

It’s tough to imagine there will be any, but leftovers will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator.

Korean Gochujang hot sauce gives this barbecued chicken a spicy-sweet kick. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Grilled Gochujang Chicken Thighs With Cucumber Salad

For chicken

  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Chopped chives, sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 2 cups cooked rice, for serving
A crisp and cool cucumber salad is a perfect side for spicy Gochujang chicken. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

For cucumber salad

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 English (seedless) cucumber, sliced thin
  • Generous pinch of red chili powder
  • Generous pinch of sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Make the paste: Place the gochujang, maple syrup, apple juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger in a medium bowl or measuring cup. Whisk to combine. Place 1/2 cup of this paste in a small bowl and reserve the rest for basting while grilling.

Place chicken thighs in a large shallow pan. Using a pastry brush or spoon, lightly brush both sides of the chicken with the paste. (To avoid contamination from raw chicken, discard the rest of the sauce you just used.)

Let the chicken sit at room temperature while you heat up the grill. This will allow the chicken thighs to come to room temperature before grilling.

Using a paper towel and tongs, oil your clean grill grates with canola, vegetable, or another high heat oil.

Preheat one side of your gas grill to medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes, 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, or push hot coals to one side of a charcoal grill. The chicken will be transferred to the unheated side of the grill to finish cooking without direct heat.

Place chicken thighs, skin side down, on the oiled grates over the lit side of the grill. Close cover and grill for 3 to 5 minutes, or until you see good grill marks form. Flip the thighs and grill over direct heat again, an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

Move the chicken to the cool side of the grill, skin side up, brush with more paste, and close the lid.

After 10 minutes, brush the thighs with more paste. Using an instant-read thermometer, check the temperature of the chicken. It should read between 150 and 155 degrees.

Close lid and continue cooking until the thighs reach 165-170 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes more.

When done, remove chicken thighs from grill, brush with more paste and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

While chicken is resting, prepare cucumber salad: In small bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Add cucumber slices, and toss to combine. Add chili powder and sesame seeds, and toss again; taste and season with additional chili powder as desired. Add chopped onion, and toss again.

Place chicken on a platter and garnish with chopped chives, sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately with steamed rice and cucumber salad on the side.

Serves 4.

— simplyrecipes.com