Dish 8: Dak Chim (Chicken & Vegetables in a Sweet & Spicy Sauce) & Ockssusu Jeon (Corn Fritters)

Korea

Sauce for Corn Fritters:
Cho Ganjang (Soy Dipping Sauce)

Sauces for Dak Chim:
Gochujang Yangnyum (Seasoned Red Pepper Paste) & Jomi Ganjang (Sweet Soy Base Sauce)

After borrowing The Korean Table, by Taekyung Chung & Debra Samuals, from the Iowa City Public Library, I perused the recipes for so long that I had to renew the book before I came to any sort of decision on what to make. I think the day I was looking for a recipe, I was craving food that is fresh and healthy, and my previous 2 experiences eating Korean had been just that.

Finally after ruling out Bibimbap (the popular Korean dish that I had previously tried), I decided on Dak Chim (Chicken & Vegetables in a Sweet & Spicy Sauce) as a main dish, and Ockssusu Jeon (Corn Fritters) as a side dish.

Step 2 involved tracking down all of the obscure ingredients needed for the recipe…I’m talking obscure here people…think oyster sauce, fresh ginger, Korean coarse red pepper flakes, and miso (which I should mention is NOT a liquid as I had assumed from the various occasions where I have ordered miso soup from a menu). My quest took me to Fareway, Hy-Vee, and then finally to the East-West Oriental Foods market on S. Gilbert St.

When I got everything home to my kitchen, I went to work on the various sauces that were required as part of the recipes I had chosen. I must say that the Cho Ganjang (Soy Dipping Sauce) and Jomi Ganjang (Sweet Soy Base Sauce) were relatively easy to make, and taste pretty good on their own.

The Gochujang Yangnyum (Seasoned Red Pepper Paste) had a slightly different story. It is a thick paste with almost every other Korean sauce ingredient under the sun involved. It includes minced ginger, oyster sauce, Korean red pepper paste, Korean red pepper flakes (these are not the same thing you put on pizza kids…this is the real deal – you can find this ingredient at the East-West Oriental Foods market) garlic paste, brown sugar, lemon juice and low sodium soy sauce. It smells about how it sounds – not necessarily a smell I wanted my entire house to be scented with. The best news was that the actual main dish only used 2 Tbsp of this ‘treat’.

The recipe for both Dak Chim and Ockssusu Jeon were relatively simple to prepare after completing the sauces. Dak Chim was chicken with potatoes, summer squash and carrots all cooked in a skillet on the stove with the sauces. Ockssusu Jeon was corn mixed with flour, miso, water and kosher salt. Dollops of this mixture were fried in oil on a skillet. The consensus was that they tasted and looked like corn pancakes. I would say this is a pretty good generalization. Doughy was the basic consistency, and sweet was the taste. Served with a bit of kosher salt and Cho Ganjang, the corn fritters were a nice compliment to the Dak Chim which had a good balance between sweet and spicy.

All in all, I had some serious doubts when I was preparing this dish, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. It got the thumbs up from my dinner guests, so maybe I’ll try it again sometime…if for no other reason than to not throw away all of the random Korean ingredients I shelled out for.

Natalie Nielsen, International Food Blogger

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