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We called it 'Korean Chicken' - What is it?

  • n

A very long time ago, my grandmother visited Korea and brought back the following recipe. My mother copied the recipe and made it often; I must have eaten this dish 2 or 3 times a month while growing up. We referred to it as "Korean Chicken." A more literal name might be "Chicken Braised in Soy Sauce."

Does anyone know the real name and origin of this dish? Or is it just a gringo concoction that was unloaded upon a white tourist? I've found similar recipes via Google, but I don't know if they're the real deal or the Korean equivalent of General Tso's Chicken.

If it was a real Korean dish, I'm guessing chiles and/or chile paste were edited out by my grandmother--any suggestions for better recipes of the same dish?

Thanks.

Korean Chicken
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Mix together:
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
2-4 green onions cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, chopped

Pour mixture into a roasting pan, add in a single layer:
chicken legs and thighs, on the bone

Bake in oven for 45 minutes at 400F. Turn chicken a few times during cooking to ensure that all sides spend time submerged.

Serve chicken with rice and a small bowlful of the braising liquid for dipping.

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  1. Do you cook the chicken parts skin on?

    1 Reply
    1. re: christina z

      We've always removed the skin before cooking.

      I always leave the skin on when roasting, frying, etc., but braised chicken skin doesn't sound very appealing to me.

    2. if it were marinated and then grilled it would be close to dak gui, which is basically chicken bulgogi.

      1. In my Korean-English bilingual, Korean-published, Korean cookbook that my Korean mother-in-law gave me, entitled _Cooking Notes of a Korean Mother_ (by Chang Sun-Young), this dish is called "Braised Chicken/ Tak Kangjong." I would guess it is an authentic Korean dish, as this cookbook is strictly "authentic." When a dish is foreign-influenced, it is described in this book as "Japanese-style" or "Chinese-style, e.g., but this braised chicken dish is not described with any such qualification to indicate foreign influence.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Browniebaker

          I'd be surprised if the recipe called for removing the skin, though.

          1. re: Browniebaker

            Thank you very, very much.

            Google returns only two references for Tak Kangjong. The one I can read is from a cooking school flyer and it describes the dish as "Chicken with a Sweet, Spicy Soy Glaze"

            When my mom makes it, it's certainly not spicy and it's certainly not a glaze. Does the recipe in that book call for chili sauce or anything? Does it say to thicken the sauce, and if so, how?

            Thanks again.

            Link: http://hanbooks.com/kormotcookno.html

            1. re: nja

              The recipe in this book has two additional steps on your grandmother's recipe. First, the recipe calls for marinading the chicken in essentially the same mixture as in your grandmother's recipe and, further, deep-frying or pan-frying the chicken pieces. The reason given is to prevent the chicken from breaking up later when braised. Second, the recipe calls for making a separate spicy chorimjang sauce to pour on the chicken along with water before simmering, long enough to glaze the pieces. It says that for extra glaze, you can dredge the chicken in cornstarch before frying.

              The recipe for the chorimjang sauce is to stir together the following:

              2 T soy sauce
              1 T koch'ujang (red pepper paste)
              2 T sugar
              1 T honey
              2 T wine
              1 T sesame oil
              2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
              sliced ginger

              I think perhaps spicy elements were indeed edited out of your grandmother's recipe. My experience has been that most Korean recipes are spicy. In this cookbook alone, I note that there are four recipes in the braised-meats chapter, and all four have some hot pepper sauce as an ingredient, specifically:

              (1) "Braised Chicken/Tak Kangjong": pouring over a separately made chorimjang sauce, which is made using red pepper paste, just before simmering.

              (2) "Chicken in Japanese Sauce/Teriyaki": spooning a spicy sauce (another one!) made with red pepper paste onto the chicken after browning. Interesting, how the Koreans make their version of Japanese teriyaki spicy, when the Japanese do not, generally.

              (3) "Chicken in Sauce/Yangnyom Tak": including red pepper paste in the braising sauce itself.

              (4) Braised Pork Ribs/Toeji Kalbi Kangjong": same preparation as the "Braised Chicken/Tak Kangjong," described above.

              Actually, one reason Korean cuisine does not much appeal to me (despite my being married to a Korean person who loves Korean food) is that *everything* is spicy. Red pepper sauce, all the time. I hate to say it, but the unrelieved red-pepper spicyness in a meal is monotonous to me.

              But, having said that most Korean dishes are spicy and that all the braised meat dishes in this cookbook are spicy, I also think the lack of spicyness in your garndmother's recipe need not disqualify it as a "Korean dish." I can think of many Chinese dishes that I make less spicy than my mother did, simply because my children and I don't like a lot of heat, and yet one can't really say, for example, that my ma p'o tofu is inauthentic; it's a Chinese dish that has been tailored to my family's taste. Could not the same be said of your grandmother's dish?

              My view is, just enjoy your grandmother's recipe as it is. Even if you find an "authentic" recipe, the latter will never be special to you the way your grandmother's is.

              1. re: Browniebaker

                Thank you so, so much!

                Our recipe said to marinate in the same liquid before braising, but we found it a waste of time. Braising alone creates chicken that is throughly infused with the flavors of the sauce.

                I don't know about that frying step... One of the most appealing things about this recipe is that the chicken falls off the bone while you're eating it, making perfect little nuggets for dipping in the sauce.

                Thanks again.

          2. My mother makes this on the stove (or in a pressure cooker). She also adds onions and potatos. I've also seem her make the same dish using beef short ribs, in which case it would be kalbi chim and not dak chim (chicken).

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jule

              Maddhur Jaffrey has a similar Korean Chicken recipe in one of her pan - Asian cookbooks. I make it in an electric skillet. Good for a cold winter's night :-)

              --
              Best
              Greg

            2. A question. I made once a similar sounding recipe from a cookbook by Patricia Yeo-might have had a little more water in it, but it came out incredibly salty from the high amount of soy sauce the chicken absorbed while braising. I am incredibly sensitive to sodium or is this true of your dish as weel?

              1 Reply
              1. re: rjka

                Yeah, as written it can be too salty for some. I like salt but this is pretty much the edge of my tolerance. My mom says she now makes it 1 part water to 1 part soy sauce. I suppose you could also use low sodium sauce like Kikkoman Lite.