Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Korean Chicken Porridge (2) | Dahk Jook (닭죽)

I'm done with Providenciales posts and back to regular recipe posts today. As fun as it was to re-live that lovely tropical holiday, I'm almost relieved that I'm done because it was getting depressing. It's getting painfully cold here so it's been difficult looking at 'previous me' in a tropical setting. I was getting jealous... of my past-self... is that weird? Anyway, I think it's good that I'm sharing something cozy today considering the weather has been quite blustery lately.

Two years ago, I shared a quick and easy dahk jook (chicken porridge). It's a great shortcut made with chicken thighs and hey, when dinner has to be on the table in an hour, it's the best fix. But, one day, earlier this year, I decided to make dahk jook with cornish hens just for kicks and it turned out to be frickin' delicious so I haven't made the thigh version since.

It's not necessarily more difficult to make but it is a little more time consuming since cornish hens, though they are small, are definitely larger than thighs and therefore take longer to cook. However, it's worth the time. Plus, you can just make the stock ahead of time and do the assembly on the day you want ot eat it. Problem solved! And on a chilly f-ing day like today, this totally hits the spot.
Ingredients:
soup
2 cornish hens
8 to 10 cups of water (or more depending on the size of the chickens and the pot)
6 to 8 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt

porridge
3 cups sticky rice (dry measure)
2 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 6 Thai chilies, chopped
¼ onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons salt (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper

Let's start with the soup base! You need lots of garlic for this soup. It's the other main ingredient alongside the chicken. This soup is touted as a health booster (mostly by my mom and grandma) because of its garlic-packed goodness. Garlic contains several health benefits; it has lots of antioxidants and helps with bone health and cholesterol. You can read all about it on the internet. And, if you're from the west or the east, I think we all know how chicken soup is great for curing colds.

There's another Korean chicken porridge called samgyetang (삼계탕) that's basically this same recipe except it's got a ton of ginseng and Korean dates. Mum would make this all the time and even though the soup, rice, and chicken were delicious, let me tell you, those ginseng pieces (which I thought resembled chicken claws and human baby fingers) were some of the worst things I've ever eaten. So, though I will never share that recipe here, I just wanted to give it a quick shoutout for those of you who are really into health.
Anyway, let's move on, shall we? Nestle your chickens into a giant stock pot (along with the giblets, if you're so inclined) and fill it up with water.
Grab your garlic cloves and toss them in as well. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for about two hours or until the chickens are cooked through and tender.
While the soup is cooking, skim off the foam and fat.
I like to collect it in little plastic containers so they can be tossed directly in the garbage. Milk cartons are also great grease collecting vessels.
Once the soup is cleared of its foam and the chicken is cooked through, turn it off, pop a lid on, and let it cool. If you have the space, you can pop this whole thing in the fridge which will solidify most of the fat. That's up to you though.
Okay, so the next day, you'll be all ready to eat some dahk jook! Grab the rest of your ingredients.
Grab your chickens from their chilly bath (chilly because the soup is cool now) and pull all of the meat off of the bones and shred it into bite-sized pieces. If you're not a fan of skin, discard it.
Chop up the scallions, Thai chilis, garlic (yes, more garlic), and onions and add them to the bowl of chicken.
Add in the sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper and mix everything together. Give it a little taste and add more salt, if necessary. You want this mixture to be slightly over-salted because it will get mixed into the porridge later and act as a seasoning for the rice.
While you were dealing with the chicken, you should have been soaking some rice. This step isn't crucial and you can totally skip it, but it does reduce the cooking time.
Bring the soup to a rolling boil, add in the rice, 2 teaspoons of salt, and then give it a quick stir. Cook until the rice is soft and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
If you're into a liquid-y porridge, then serve it as soon as the rice is cooked through. If you're into a less liquid-y porridge, let it cook for a little longer.
Please notice that I haven't stirred the soup around a ton, turning it into a mushy mess. Instead, I've left it alone to do its own thing and each grain of rice is still in tact.
Serve up a generous portion. I like two ladlefuls.
And then, plop on some delicious seasoned chicken.
Serve with spicy kimchi and dig in like a champion. The soup is comforting and flavorful, the rice is tender, the chicken is so delicious, especially with the bites of spice from the Thai chilies. This is the ultimate comfort food for me. It's so yummy. Writing up this blog post is making my stomach growl.
I like to mix the chicken in, so that the seasoning gets distributed. It's the only way to do it.
By the way, how appropriate are the placemats for this meal? The answer is souper. Souper appropriate. This chick's got her puns down.
Here's the recipe page:

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