Marja Vongerichten’s Easy Braised Chicken

Easy Braised Chicken
Serves 4


I ate a delicious braised chicken dish with vegetables and noodles called j jimdak in the city of Andong and another great stir-fry of chicken with vegetables and rice cakes called dakgalbi in Chuncheon. Both of these chicken preparations were wonderfully satisfying one-pot meals full of flavor. I combined some of the ingredients and techniques in both of those iconic dishes to come up with the easiest chicken dish in my repertoire, not to mention one of my favorites. In this recipe you just brown a cut-up chicken, add tons of vegetables and a bunch of seasonings, put a lid on it, and in an hour you’ve got a hearty dinner on the table. This is real Korean home cooking


  • One 4-pound chicken
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Umma Paste (see below for recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon soju, sake, vodka, or water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
  • 8 small boiling potatoes, peeled
  • 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bunches scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 fresh green chile pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 fresh red chile pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Umma Paste

  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tb gochugaru ( red pepper powder)
  • 3 tb fish sauce
  • 3 tb soy sauce
  • 3 tb gochujang ( red pepper paste)
  • 3 tb soju

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and purée to a smooth paste.   Makes 3/4 of a cup

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces (2 wings, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, halve the breasts).
  2. Season the chicken pieces aggressively all over with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, wide heavy pot over high heat.
  3. Working in batches if necessary, add the chicken, skin-side down, and brown on both sides, 6 to 7 minutes per side.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together 1⁄2 cup water, the Umma Paste, soju, honey, and sesame seeds. Set the sauce aside.
  5. When all the chicken is browned, add the potatoes, onions, carrots, scallions, and reserved sauce to the pot and stir everything together.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring now and then, until the chicken is cooked through and yielding and the potatoes are tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with chiles if you’d like, and serve with rice.

marja_square_215Marja Vongerichten is the host of PBS series, Kimchi Chronicles, a program about Korean cuisine and culture, that is equal parts food and travelogue. She is also the author of the Kimchi Chronicles companion cookbook, which was just released this year. She lives in New York City with her husband, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and their daughter, Chloe.

CLICK HERE to read Profile of Marja Vongerichten by Julie Young