Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dak Bokkeum Tang (Spicy Chicken Stew)

Chicken soup is for the soul in Korea, too.

I should probably issue a disclaimer here that this isn't actual dak bokkeum tang. A key ingredient in the Korean stew is gochujang, a sauce made of fermented soybeans and chiles.

I stock a lot of Asian ingredients in my kitchen (I find that using an Asian, Mexican, or Italian flavor profile is a good way to turn the exact same dish (pasta, chicken, vegetables, etc.) into a completely different meal), but I did not and never have had any gochujang on hand.

So I improvised. But if you happen to have it or are feeling like a trip to Asia Mart (yes, this is the name of one of the grocery stores in Tulsa. This magical place stocks every imaginable Asian and almost every imaginable Mexican cooking ingredient, plus things like fans and woks and one million pound bags of rice and geisha robes and also the most delicious fresh bubble tea), substitute the soy sauce, fish sauce, and chile paste below with 1/6 cup gochujang + about 1 1/4 Tbs. soy sauce.

The soup as made below is also pretty darn spicy. The DDH's reaction, and I quote, was, "This is spicy! But really good. But spicy!" So caveat ederator.

Dak Bokkeum Tang
Halved and liberally adapted from Cooking Light March 2012

We marinate the chicken for at least a half hour, so bear that in mind when planning. I'm sure the stew would still be tasty if you don't have time to marinate the chicken, but marinating will make the chicken more juicy, tender, and flavorful.

(Why is the noun marinade, with a d, but the verb is marinate, with a t? Has anyone else ever noticed this? I love the English language.)

Measure 2 Tbs. soy sauce. Add 1 Tbs. chile paste (sambal oelek, for example), and then add fish sauce (and/or oyster sauce, and/or any other fun Asiany sauces you have lying around) to make 1/6 cup. Roughly.

Pour into a large bowl (with a lid if you have one).

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1/2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 3/8 tsp. crushed red pepper

Grating ginger.
A note on ginger: freezing ginger makes it easier to grate with a microplane dealy like in the picture above. If, however, you think this means you can just freeze the whole dang root and chop off pieces as you want it...well, all I have to say is you'd better have a sharp knife, a strong arm, and a lot of patience.

It does, however, stop the damn expensive stuff from rotting before you can use it all. Just saying you might want to chop it into one-inch-ish pieces before freezing, is all.

Mix your marinade well with a fork or other favorite mixing implement. Mostly you want to break that brown sugar down and dissolve it into the liquids.

Add ~1 pound chicken tenders (or boneless skinless chicken breasts/thighs/etc. cut into strips or chunks). When the DDH and I went to eat the soup, we realized I should have at chopped the chicken into bite size pieces, as we ended up trying to eat chicken strips with spoons. That did actually work, though, as the chicken turns out tender enough that you don't really need a fork-and-knife.

I've cleverly left the part of the lid the dog chewed on
out of the picture.
Cover and leave to marinate at room temperature for about thirty minutes. If you'll be leaving it longer, you may wish to refrigerate it.

Here's another note: This procedure and time uses white rice. If you're using brown rice, it's going to take longer.

Place 3/4 cup white rice in a medium saucepan. Cover with warm water two inches above rice. Stir the rice; drain. Repeat twice more.

Add 3/4 cup water to drained rice in pan. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for twenty minutes. Remove from heat and let stand ten minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up some vegetables for your stew. I had and thus used potatoes and carrots. If this were summer, there would inevitably be summer squash and zucchini. Sweet potatoes would work, and winter squashes of various sorts; I can picture broccoli and cauliflower in the mix here. Onions, mushrooms--whatever. Chop 'em up.

Two carrots; four medium-small potatoes.
Bring 1/6 cup water to a boil in a large Dutch oven.

Add chicken mixture and bring to a simmer.
Add root vegetables and any other long-cooking vegetables:

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer twenty minutes.

Uncover and simmer ten minutes more or until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.

At this point I added some frozen spinach:

And left it on the heat until the spinach thawed, then removed from heat and I meant to add green onion tops, sliced, but of course I forgot.

Portion rice into bowls
and top with chicken mixture.

As I said, it is spicy, but warm and delicious. It's somehow a comforting familiar food--chicken and rice soup--yet still a novel and interesting flavor combination.

The bonus to most soups and stews is that they make great leftovers, and this is no exception. I made it Friday night and it was still delicious at lunch the following Thursday.

1 comment:

  1. Just in case you don't have an Asia Mart nearby:



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