Tongdak Gui (Whole Roasted Chicken)

Tongdak Gui (Whole Roasted Chicken)

This recipe draws inspiration from the old-fashioned rotisserie chickens sold along Seoul’s streets in the 1970s — before Korean fried chicken entered the scene in the next decade. Cornish game hens are an excellent substitute for the smaller, younger birds often used in South Korea for this succulent poultry dish. A simple soy-sauce brine, made even more fragrant with ground white pepper, ensures inimitably juicy, tender meat that, after roasting in the oven for an hour, truly falls off the bone. A nod to pa dak (“scallion chicken”), an early-2000s trend in which shaved scallions were served atop fried chicken to cut the fattiness, this recipe calls for lightly dressed scallions for a verdant counterpoint.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 4 persons



  1. Step 1

    Place a gallon-size resealable plastic bag in a large bowl. To the bag, add the soy sauce, salt, sugar, white pepper and 6 cups cold tap water; stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Nestle the Cornish game hens into the liquid, seal the bag set in the bowl and place in the refrigerator to brine for at least 8 hours and up to 48 hours.
  2. Step 2

    When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the hens in the sink and pat very dry with a clean towel (the drier the hen, the crispier the skin). Using your hands, massage the olive oil all over the birds and place on a sheet pan, breast side up. Roast, rotating the pan halfway through, until golden brown and the legs, when jostled, feel like they’re about to fall off (a sign that the meat is tender and cooked through), about 1 hour.
  3. Step 3

    Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the scallions with the rice vinegar and a pinch of salt and sugar to taste. To serve, top each roasted hen with a mound of the scallion garnish and enjoy with steamed white rice and yangnyeom sauce (if using), for dipping.