Chicken Thighs Marinated with Homemade Ssam Paste
© John Kernick

Chicken Thighs Marinated with Homemade Ssam Paste

Chef Bill Kim’s recipes reveal what Korean barbecue is all about: salty-sweet, sticky, delectably charred meat. Kim uses miso, chile powder, fish sauce, sesame oil and ginger to flavor his Asian grilled chicken.


  1. 1/3 cup yellow miso
  2. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  4. 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  5. 1/4 cup white vinegar
  6. 1 1/2 tablespoons Korean red chile powder (gochugaru); see Note
  7. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  9. 8 large boneless chicken thighs, with skin
  10. 1 medium onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  11. Vegetable oil, for brushing
  12. 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  13. Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves, for serving
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the miso, sugar, sesame oil, fish sauce, vinegar, chile powder, garlic and ginger. Put the chicken and onion in a large, shallow dish, add half of the marinade and turn to coat completely. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours. Refrigerate the remaining marinade. Discard the onion.
  2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade and brush with oil. Grill the chicken over moderate heat, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the scallions into the reserved marinade and brush some on the chicken. Grill for 10 seconds per side, until glazed. Brush a little more marinade on the skin. Serve with lettuce leaves for wrapping.
Gochugaru is available at Asian markets and from TriFood.com.

Suggested Pairing

Spice-inflected Gewürztraminer can overpower some dishes, but not this intensely flavorful chicken.