Wednesday, November 2, 2011

닭도리탕 (Dahk Doritang) - Korean-Style Chicken in Spicy Sauce

Ingredients:
1 package chicken thighs (about 5 thighs)
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 small bag of baby yukon gold potatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Korean hot pepper, roughly chopped,
1/3 cup Korean hot pepper paste
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup tomato sauce (canned)
2 cups water

This is the first thing I grabbed when I started prepping for this meal, because it involves raw chicken.
I usually try and prep my chicken in the simplest way, contaminating as few surfaces as possible. I used a package of boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. I like thighs because I prefer dark meat, since it has more flavor and it's harder to dry out because it's naturally more fatty and moist. If you prefer the bone, that's fine, but the bones are just cumbersome to me. Anyway, remember to wipe down all surfaces that the chicken has touched or any surface that was near the chicken to make sure you're killing all of the salmonella and bacteria. Chicken contamination is rather scary.

I used a pair of kitchen scissors to cut off any fat right onto the styrofoam tray that the chicken was packaged in. I like to do it this way so that I don't have to dirty up a cutting board and knife.
This is gochujang, a.k.a. Korean hot pepper paste. It is v. rarely available in your regular grocery store; you'll have to venture out to an Asian market to find it. We use it fairly regularly in my house, hence the 6.6lb tub, but you can find it much smaller packages.

It's sweet and spicy and has a really thick and sticky consistency.

I used half of a sweet onion, 4 garlic cloves, and half of a small bag of baby yukon gold potatoes. I find the baby yukons to be soft and creamy (instead of mealy and crumbly like Idaho potatoes) and hold their shape, even when cooked for a long time. Plus, you can leave the skins on, which is better for you, since "they say" the skin holds all the nutrients.
I minced the garlic, quartered the onion (or half an onion, I should say) and halved the larger potatoes but left the tiny ones alone.
This pepper is optional, but I like it because it adds some more heat to the sauce. I cut up a few and added it to my chicken.
I put the vegetables and chicken into a hot pot with a bit of oil and let the chicken get a bit of color on one side before adding in 1/3 cup of the hot pepper paste, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce (this is optional but I had some leftovers from my rice & beans escapades and thought it would add some body to the sauce), and 2 cups of water. I love spicy foods so this might be a skewed opinion, but these proportions do not yield a fiery hot sauce. It's more of a sweet sauce, similar to barbecue sauce, with a hint of spice. If you're worried about the level of spice, stir up the hot pepper paste, sugar, tomato sauce, and water in a separate bowl and taste it before adding it to the pot, keeping in mind that the sauce will reduce and get more concentrated.

Once the liquid comes to a simmer, I add in the potatoes. If necessary, add in some more water to make sure everything is submerged.
And then cook until the chicken is done and the sauce has thickened (an hour). This is one of those dishes that is better when cooked longer, and even better the next day when the sauce has had a chance to really permeate the chicken and potatoes.
This is how it looks when the sauce is thick and the chicken is done. Serve with rice (sticky white rice, if you want to stay in the Korean theme).

Enjoy.

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