After all the festive food and excellent wines I have been drinking during the holiday season I found it very difficult to choose what recipe should be the first one posted in 2015. The food I’ve been preparing is particularly simple since I’m busy at work and these short winter days make me all sleepy and lazy… Does chilli wake you up from winter lethargy? It gives me such a big kick of energy I sometimes feel like eating chilli seasonings by tablespoons! In such periods, obviously, Korean dishes are frequent visitors to my table.
I have cooked this fiery stew several times and each time I wondered how at its rich and complex flavours obtained without any stock. The chicken, the gochujang (Korean chilli paste) and the ground sesame seeds do it all. Even though this dish makes a filling, rich one-course winter meal, it is not high-calorie nor high-fat, therefore totally safe for all of you who try to eat healthier after holidays’ indulgence. As always, I’m thrilled to discover one more way to use my beloved gochujang!
The recipe comes from my well-tested and still surprisingly excellent Food and Cooking of Korea by Young Jin Song. I have adapted the recipe to a meal for two and slightly modified the preparation process.
TIPS: Gochujang is a Korean chilli paste. It is smooth, sticky and slightly sweet and cannot be substituted with anything else. You can buy it in Korean and Japanese grocery shops (and often in more general Asian shops). It is east to recognise because most brands sell it in plastic red rectangle-shaped boxes. If you cannot get it, add more chilli powder and 2 tablespoons of a syrup (for ex. agave syrup). The result will not be the same, but the stew will still be delicious. (Don’t bother buying other chilli pastes; nothing is similar to gochujang).
Bones are here necessary to makes a flavoursome stew, so if you don’t like meat with bones, debone but cook the stew with the bones too. Remove them before serving.
I don’t recommend this dish with chicken breast which will become dry.
The recipe calls for chicken with skin, but since it makes the whole dish fatty and I don’t like soft boiled chicken skin anyway, I prefer to skin the chicken pieces before cooking. Choose the option you prefer.
Click here if you look for other ideas of gochujang use in your kitchen.
Preparation: about 1 hour – 1h30
Ingredients (serves two as the main course):
1 big chicken leg or two small ones (with bones), cut in two or the equivalent of other chicken cuts with bones; I prefer the chicken skinned (see above)
2 medium potatoes
1 big carrot (or another winter vegetable of your choice, such as pumpkin or parsnip)
1 big onion
1 big garlic clove
2 fresh green chillies, sliced
1 fresh red chilli, sliced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped spring onions
2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin); I have used cheap Japanese sake
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds (ground)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chilli paste) or more if you like very hot food
2 tablespoons Korean chilli powder (or more) or any other medium-hot chilli powder
Combine the marinade ingredients and marinate the chicken pieces for at least 10 minutes.
Peel the potatoes, cut into cubes and soak in cold water for 15-20 minutes.
Peel the garlic and chop finely.
Cut the onion in two and slice it.
Heat some oil in a pan and stir-fry the garlic.
When it starts changing colour, remove it with a slotted spoon, add 1 tablespoon oil and stir-fry the chicken until it browns slightly. Add the onion and stir-fry for 5 more minutes.
Add the potatoes, the cubed carrot, the fried garlic and pour enough water to cover the ingredients.
In the meantime prepare the gochujang paste, combining all the ingredients.
Add the gochujang paste to the stew, as well as sliced chillies, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Uncover the stew, season with salt and pepper and simmer it until the liquid thickens slightly and the chicken meat falls off the bone.
Serve in bowls with chopped green onions and a splash of sesame oil. (I like to sprinkle it with some uncooked green chilli too).