Slow Cooker Jjim Dak (or dak jjim), aka Korean braised chicken

Last night I experimented with jjim dak cooked in the slow cooker and I’m so pleased with the results that I had to share the recipe. I started with the recipe from Hyosun at Eating and Living. This is my “go to” site for Korean recipes and I haven’t been disappointed yet. I used her ingredient list, but changed the amounts slightly. You’ll find Hyosun’s recipe here: (http://eatingandliving.blogspot.com/2011/02/jjimdakdakjjim-korean-style-braised.html) Here’s the recipe as I’ve adapted it for the slow cooker.

Ingredients:

3 medium to large boneless chicken breasts (I used frozen ones)
2 small to medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 -10 baby carrots, cut into thirds
1/2 large onion

Added at the end:
3 ounces starch noodles (aka, cellophane noodles or sweet potato noodles; the ones used in jap chae)
2 green onions, diced

The original recipe calls for: 3 -4 mushroom caps (shiitake, white, or baby bella), 3 – 4 dried whole red chili peppers (optional), and 1 – 2 green chili peppers or jalapenos (optional). But I omitted these based on my family’s tastes.

Sauce:
4-5 garlic cloves, minced (I used the equivalent of minced garlic)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs. soy sauce (preferably dark)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 cups water

Added at the end:
2 tablespoons corn syrup (I’ll likely reduce to 1 Tb. next time)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Put the chicken breasts into the slow cooker and cover with potatoes, carrots, and onions. Then add in the first eight ingredients in the sauce list. Cook on high for between four and five hours.

Four hours later, you’ll need to remove the chicken, which should be super tender, shred it, and return it to the slow cooker. Next you need to add the last three sauce ingredients and the noodles. The noodles should soak up most of the water left in the slow cooker. Once the noodles are tender, serve in bowls and garnish with green onions.

It was so yummy! And our exchange student said it tasted like the jjim dak she’s had in Korea, which is the best endorsement I can get. I love Korean recipes in the slow cooker since I rely on it a lot these days. I hope your family enjoys it too.

Gungjung Tteokbokki, New and Improved

So awhile back I posted a recipe for gungjung tteokbokki (궁중떡볶이), which is a favorite in our house. Gungjung tteokbokki is the palace version of this dish, which is now more famous for being spicy than savory. Spicy isn’t tolerated so well in our house yet (our son’s only 5) so this non-spicy works great for us. And the original recipe I’ve used for more than a year was good enough until a month or so ago the PTA at our Korean school made the dish. Suddenly my gungjung tteokbokki paled in comparison.

In fact, their version was soooooo good that I asked the PTA president for the recipe. As expected, I received this description “put a little oil, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil in a pan…”–aren’t Korean cooks famous for winging it (or maybe that’s just great cooks in general). So while my cooking has improved immensely in the last few years, I’m still not really comfortable making a new recipe without knowing the amounts to use. But at least now I knew what ingredients I should be looking for in a recipe.

A few nights ago, I finally had the opportunity to try a version of the PTA’s gungjung tteokbokki. I based my recipe off this video from the Jeonju University food service department, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibB-sf8HlFc, but as usual I tweaked it some. Mainly I tripled the recipe from what is on the video. They use only 20 pieces of tteok (rice cake); I used a 2 pound bag. But I didn’t triple the sugar because they just seemed like too much. My version is listed below.

I cooked this while the kids were at taekwondo and when they came home they were amazed by the smell. Then I think these two kids ended up eating at least a pound of the tteok all by themselves. I was hailed as a great cook, as good as our exchange student’s grandmother (which I doubt, but it was sweet of her to say). I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine did.

Gungjung Tteokbokki, 2 Thumbs Up Version
In a large bowl mix:
9 Tbs. soy sauce
3 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. garlic, minced
3 tsp. sesame oil
pinch of pepper
pinch of sesame seeds
1 1/2 c. water
Stir together well; add in tteok, stir until well coated. Let sit for 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix together:
1 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
1/2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 Tbs. garlic
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
pinch of both pepper and sesame seeds
1/4 c. water
Stir until mixed together well, then add 1/2 pound to 1 pound of ground beef (what I used) or sirloin strips, thinly sliced. Again, mix up until meat is well coated. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Slice one medium carrot, 1/2 large onion, and two green onions.

Once meat has marinated for at least 1o minutes, add meat and its sauce to a preheated pan. Once it’s begins to boil, add in carrot, onion, tteok, and sauce tteok has been in. Boil, covered, until tteok are soft and liquid is reduced by about half. Add green onions and cook for another minute or so.

Serve.

2 pound bag tteok, cylinder shaped

Muk (묵)

Sorry for the absence of late. Our lives have become crazy with the addition of an exchange student, school starting, and me temporarily returning to work. All good things, but still keeping us very busy. Anyway, back to the topic–muk (묵).

Our exchange student is from South Korea so we’ve recently been out a couple of times to our local Korean restaurants. And our son has developed a love of a certain banchan that looks like gelatin. I think we’d asked what it was once, but had forgotten so our exchange student reminded us. It’s muk!

There are several different types of muk each made from a different type of powder, but our son loves nokdumuk (녹두묵), which is clear and made with mung bean powder then seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil.

Last night we were eating with friends at our favorite Korean restaurant and asked how muk is made since our son loves it so much. Well, it’s made from mung bean starch powder (label might say “green bean”) and apparently takes a lot of stirring to make. When I said that we’d just come to the restaurant for it, our friend (the owner) gave me some to take home. So our family will get to enjoy it without the work. 🙂

If you’re interested Maangchi has a tutorial on making this banchan. Maybe one day I’ll have to give it a try. www.maangchi.com/recipe/cheongpomuk-muchim

K-Drama Food Blog

I love finding new resources to share, and I really love the idea behind this blog. Probably because watching K-dramas always makes me soooooo hungry. Let’s face it–this blog combines two of my favorite things. 🙂

You have to check out: www.kdramafood.com/. The blog talks a little about the dramas and includes recipes. How cool! I love trying new Korean dishes; I wonder how many these will convert to slow cooker recipes.

Giving credit where credit is due, I found this blog after it was highlighted over at http://curdsandkimchi.blogspot.com/. Thanks for sharing!

Dak Doritang (닭도리탕), aka spicy chicken stew

Our family can’t live without Korean food. (OK, we probably could but we’re much happier with a steady diet of Korean.) But having to use the slow cooker several days a week to accommodate our son’s taekwondo schedule has challenged me to find Korean recipes I can cook that way. This is the second one I’ve tried (kalbi jjim was the first). And it’s another keeper.

Dak doritang (닭도리탕) is a spicy chicken stew with potatoes and carrots. As usual, I combined pieces of about three different recipes to come up with this one. Since I’m the only one in my family that really likes spicy, I cut down the amount of hot pepper powder from the original recipes. One recipe I found called for 2-3 Tbs. of hot pepper paste plus an optional 1 Tbs. of hot pepper powder. I knew that would be too much for my family, but feel free to adjust the heat according to your family’s taste.

Ingredients:
2 large chicken breasts, cubed
4 medium potatoes, cubed
10 baby carrots, halved
1/2 of one large white onion
3 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. hot pepper powder (adjust according to your family’s tastes)
1/3 c. soy sauce
2 c. water

Place everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for four to five hours. Serve with rice.

Kalbi Jjim (갈비찜)

Since our son has started taekwondo, which falls during the time I usually make dinner, I’ve been trying use my slow cooker more. So last night, I decided to try a recipe I’d found for kalbi jjim in the slow cooker on the Kimchi Mamas site. (You’ll find the original recipe here, which it seems she adapted from the cookbook, Cooking the Korean Way.) But as usual I made changes to the recipe to suit our family and what I had on hand. It was the yummiest new recipe I’ve tried in the slow cooker so far.

Kalbi (갈) is Korean for short rib and jjim (찜) is a steamed dish. This dish can be made with beef short ribs or pork short ribs. I used pork so technically I made dweji galbijjim (돼지갈비찜). Here it is.

Kalbi Jjim

1 package short ribs, about 2.5 pounds (I used boneless, country-style ribs since that’s all I could find.)

1/2 cup water

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup sugar

1/2 large onion, peeled and sliced into lengths

10-12 baby carrots

9-10 small creamer potatoes, peeled

1 T. toasted sesame seeds

(The original recipe on Kimchi Mamas includes 10 fresh mushrooms and a 1/2 cup of peeled chestnuts, both of which I left out.) 

Separate the ribs and remove visible fat. Put the ribs, garlic, and water in the slow cooker, and cook for four hours on low. Then add remaining ingredients, and cook for four more hours or until ribs are fork-tender.

I got started a little late so I cooked the ribs on medium for an hour then turned it to low and cooked for another three before adding the other ingredients and cooking for another four. Since the ribs I used were boneless they might not have needed to cook that long, but they were super tender so I’ll probably do it the same way next time.

The recipe made enough for dinner for our family of three plus lunch for all three of us today. I served it with rice. And you could, of course, add your favorite banchan.

Chopsticks

Do you know the difference between Korean chopsticks and those used in China and Japan?

In Korea chopsticks, called jeokkarak (젓가락), are mostly made from stainless steel while those used in China and Japan are usually made of wood. Another difference is that Korean chopsticks not the same length as those used in China and Japan. Chinese chopsticks tend to be the longest ones and Japanese chopsticks the shortest, with Korean chopsticks falling at length between the other two.

So why are Korean chopsticks made of metal? Well, I’ve found various explanations. One is that in ancient times pure silver chopsticks were used by the king because the silver would change color if the king’s food had been poisoned. Then the commoners wanting to emulate royalty began to use metal chopsticks.

Other explanations aren’t as exciting. One is that metal chopsticks are more practical and sanitary since they can be easily washed and used again. Another is that since Koreans mostly use a spoon to eat their rice, they can use the more slippery chopsticks to eat their other dishes (apparently it’s harder to eat rice with metal chopsticks).

Whatever the explanation, metal chopsticks are uniquely Korean. Since our adoption process happened in record time (six months from match to picking up our son), we didn’t have a lot of time to practice using chopsticks before we traveled. And I was embarrassed when one of our waitresses in Korea brought us both forks and wooden chopsticks after watching us struggle with the metal chopsticks.

So I vowed that I would practice and be able to use metal chopsticks without incident the next time we visited Korea. I guess I can count one goal accomplished–I’m now proficient with metal chopsticks thanks to eating every homemade Korean meal with them. Now if I can just master the language. 🙂