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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Hansik ~ Dakdoritang

It all started somewhere around the early 2000s and it's getting stronger by the day sweeping across the globe, so strong that most of us must have been hit one way or another...Hallyu or Korean wave that is what i am talking about.

Initially it was about the dramas, dramas like Winter Sonata then Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace) were so popular that you hear people talking about them all the time.   It's amazing how these dramas triggered the curiosity for many other aspects of the Korean culture, people wanted to try Korean food, follow Korean fashion, use Korean cosmetics, learn the Korean language, see the beautiful sceneries they saw in the dramas with their own eyes etc, etc, etc.  Even if the entertainment bit missed you, at one point or another you must have considered some Korean technology.

So which bit of the Korean wave hit you?   I didn't watch the 2 popular dramas but all the talk about it triggered enough curiosity to 'have' my own Winter Sonata there, we visited in winter and it was beautiful :)  It was also through this trip that we became more appreciative of their cuisine (known as Hansik in korean).  I always make it a point never to bring along our local food during holidays to foreign countries.  No instant noodles or sambal belacan to the rescue, this leaves us with no choice but to eat the local food there and learn to appreciate them.  It works and i have never regretted it so far :)

Then hubs got caught in the craze for Samsung smartphones after playing with 3 generations of Iphone.  Korea is fast becoming world leaders in cutting edge electronic products, the achievements that they have made are just amazing.

And the latest craze must have been this insanely popular Korean drama, My Love from the Star.  I couldn't help checking it out, some delicious eye candy they have there ;-D

Ok, now let's get to the food!  Asian Food Fest blogging event moves to Korea this month after Indonesia last month, so that's what all the Korean fuss was all about earlier on :)  I look around for a simple dish, something the ajummas (term used to address middle age married women) would make for their families.  Yup, i can see some of you smiling and i hear you saying 'This ajumma is looking for ajumma dishes to make lol!  And i found this chicken with potatoes stew dish.  Isn't it interesting that chicken and potatoes in a stew like dish is such a universal dish?  People around the world make them in their own unique ways, the Chinese makes them with oyster sauce, the Indians make curries out of them and in the West they are made with some herbs added into it.   For the Korean version it's the fermented hot pepper paste known as Gochujang that gave the stew it's unique taste.

There's an interesting story to this dish.  It is traditionally known as Dakdoritang which when translated means Chicken Chicken Stew.   Yes, you read it right, it's Chicken with an emphasis :)  Apparently Dak is Chicken in Korean and Dori or Tori is also Chicken but in Japanese.  This name is a lingering evidence of the Japanese occupation era there.   It is said this dish was renamed Dakbokkeumtang (where bokkeum means braised) to correct the misnomer and shed the Japanese influence in its name.

The recipe below is roughly half of the original recipe with some adaptation to suit our taste preference and slight changes in the cooking method.   Please click on the link for the original one.   You can either use the slow cook method or do it over the stove.  I did it over the stove as i didn't have enough time to allow slow cooking.

A comforting dish that goes very well with rice if you like spicy flavors.  I have reduced the amount of pepper paste to the level of intensity that is acceptable for the family.  So, the next time you are craving for chicken and potatoes, why not give this Korean version a try instead?

Reference: Korean Bapsang

  • 600g bone-in chicken parts, cut into small pieces (excess fat removed)
  • 2 potatoes, cut into big chunks
  • 1 carrot, cut into big chunks
  • 1/4 large onion, cut into big chunks
  • 3 plump garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 - 3 thinly sliced ginger pieces
  • 1 scallion, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 tsp Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey or corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Korean red chili pepper paste (gochujang)
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (omitted) 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Slow cooker method
  1. Place everything (except scallions, sesame oil and sesame seeds) into the slow cooker.  Mix well.
  2. Cook on high heat for 4 hours.  Cook until chicken is tender.
  3. Stir in scallions, sesame oil (if using) and sesame seeds before serving.
Over the stove method
  1. Marinade chicken with sauce ingredients for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat pot with a tablespoon of oil.  Add in garlic and ginger, stir fry until fragrant.
  3. Add in chicken pieces and pan fry it until chicken turns opaque.  Add in potatoes and carrot and continue frying for 2-3 minutes.  
  4. Pour in remaining marinade and add in 1 cup of water (enough to cover chicken).  Mix well and bring it to a boil.
  5. Turn to low heat and allow it to simmer until chicken is tender and sauce is slightly thickened.
  6. Stir in scallions and sesame seeds before serving.

As they say in Korean, Mashikeh-mogo (Bon Appetit)!

I leave you with some Korean Table Etiquette that I find interesting and vastly different from the Chinese.   Something good to know, as they say in Rome do like the Romans do?

First off, a little bit on the Korean set of eating utensils which i find unique.  A set of chopsticks and spoon, they are collectively known as Sujeo in Korean.  Sujeo is the portmanteau of the word sutgarak (숟가락, "spoon") and jeotgarak (젓가락, "chopsticks"). 

Unlike the Japanese and Chinese chopsticks which are mostly made of wood and bamboo (and plastic nowadays), the Korean ones are made of stainless steel.  Apart from that theirs are flat and rectangular while the others are cylindrical.  In terms of length the Korean ones are in between the Chinese and the Japanese with Chinese being the longest. Even the spoon looks very different from the ones the Chinese or Japanese use with their chopsticks, the Korean ones are long like the Western ones.  Ever wondered why?  Apparently the use of metal (and mostly stainless steel these days) started from the time when commoners wanted to emulate their kings who used  pure silver chopsticks as silver would tarnish if anyone attempted to poison the king’s food.  The other reason is that the Koreans find metal chopsticks more practical since they are more durable and easier to clean hence more hygienic when reuse.

And 3 Korean Chopstick Etiquette that are vastly different from what we Chinese practise.

#1 - The spoon is to be used for soups and rice.  Yes, eat rice with the spoon not chopsticks.

#2 - Never lift the rice bowl off the table!

#3 - Do not use both spoon and chopsticks simultaneously.  When you need to use your chopsticks, leave the spoon on the table

More in the next post maybe? ;-)

I am submitting this post to Asian Food Fest: Korea, hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts


What a great post about Korea!! From S... smartphone, Korean food, Korean series and even table ettiquette as myself once I worked in Korean restaurant before. I love all Korean food...delicious!

@Mel: Thank you! Assuming you know quite a few korean dishes then, hope you will be sharing some of them :)

delicious meal perfect for dinner.

Don't know much about Korean food, except their kimchi... your spicy chicken looks tantalizing and moreish!

La salsa es exquisita un plato agradable....gran explicación sobre Corea y sus comidas me encantan aquí en Chile venden varios productos coreanos y hay varios Restaurant,nos deleitamos algunos fines de semana ,abrazos ,,

@Cquek: Thank you, yup it's quite comforting especially on rainy nights :)

@Rosita: Thank you and it's interesting to know you get them in Chile too :)

That looks yummy, I am sure they are delicious with rice or noodles..way too much work for me to cook lol!

Hehe I love Korean series (esp the cute actors LOL) as well as the food. This looks like a great comforting stew.

Oh yes, the Koreans are really coming up! Their pop culture has been spreading like wildfire but I was more into their fantastic food. I simply love Korean food and can never get tired of it. This chicken stew is really up my alley because I love my chicken!

@Jeannie: It's pretty simple, just throw everything into a slow cooker, much easier than baking ;-)

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@Yen: Totally agree with you on the bit about their actors and yes their food too :-)

@Phong Hong: Maybe you should give this a try one day :)

Ade , I think I'm one of those few who doesn't like Korean drama , I prefer Japanese drama myself :D Of course , I can't help but watch it from time to time , and usually mumble that those men or should I say , boys are more sexier than your average women lol Now , Korean food is another matter though I haven't tried the much-touted kimchi yet and my all-time fave is japchae . Korean chicken stew is one on my ever-growing list of to-make food *sigh* Love your informative post on Korean cuisine and eating etiquette !

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