MY KOREAN KITCHEN: DAK CHIM

I’ve known people who say that they don’t like to eat. That the only reason they eat is for nourishment, and dining isn’t an exciting experience. I don’t really understand these people, though I respect our differences. I love food. Even as a picky eater, I feel comfortable saying that. I may not like all food, but what I will eat, I thoroughly enjoy. It’s one of the reasons I love to cook: I get to eat the product of my effort.

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about how I would like Korean food, but Jared and I have been pleasantly surprised with the cuisine. As much as I am able to share with you here- the pictures, the stories, snippets of conversation- one thing that I have been unable to share is the taste of Korea. I’ve decided to start trying out some Korean recipes and sharing them here so that you may have another taste of my life!

IngredientsSo, I checked out a recipe book from our post library. I’m very happy with it because it has good pictures; a requirement I have for cookbooks, especially when foreign foods are featured. The cookbook is The Korean Table: From Barbecue to Bibimbap/100 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels and is geared to American cooks. For our first Korean meal, I chose to create Dak Chim (Chicken and Vegetables in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce.) I chose this recipe for a number of reasons. I liked the picture, I like chicken, and the ingredients didn’t look like they’d be too crazy to find (I didn’t think you’d want to go searching for dried squid for the first recipe.)

I was so excited to get cooking and share this recipe! I put on my favorite chili pepper apron, set up my cookbook holder, gathered my ingredients, and completely did the recipe backwards. I think I got a little over excited, and Jared was taking pictures, so I felt the need to perform well. My brain said, “COOK!” I just dove in and forgot the order that I needed to follow. Whoops. However, the meal turned out just fine in the end. I think that means it’s a good recipe; you can completely mess it up, and it’s still edible. Win!

ChopThe recipe in the book first lists all the vegetable ingredients, then the sauce ingredients. So, I followed that list and first chopped all my vegetables, made the sauces, and then mixed it all together. Shouldn’t have done that (not the book’s fault! I was just overzealous!) The sauces take sometime to prepare (you could actually fix these a few days before to cut down on prep time), so my vegetables were just chopped and sitting there for a good thirty minutes before it was time for them to make an entrance. My recommendation is to make your sauce first, then chop away.

The Dak Chim recipe requires the cook to incorporate two previously prepared sauces. To help prevent other excited souls from repeating my mistake, I have separated these sauces from the actual Dak Chim recipe. Here it is!

Sweet Soy Base Sauce (Makes a little less than 1 cup. The book actually doubles this, but I didn’t want that much left over.)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 1/8 inch slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, preferably low sodium
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup red or white wine

Combine the water, garlic, ginger and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Be careful not to let the liquid evaporate completely. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and wine. Turn the heat to high and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Strain the sauce through a sieve into an airtight container. Discard the ginger, garlic, and peppercorns. Store the sauce in the refrigerator. It will keep for 3 months.

Red Pepper SauceSeasoned Red Pepper Paste (Makes 6 tablespoons)

  • 2 Tablespoons coarse red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons Korean red pepper paste (This is the only ingredient that might be a little difficult to obtain. It comes in a red plastic tub and you can see it on the right of the ingredient picture. It’s very popular in Asian cooking; try looking on the Oriental food aisle at your grocery store or at a local Asian market.)
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, preferably low sodium
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix the ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. This will last for 2 months.

B CookingDak Chim (yield: 6 servings)

    • 3 Tablespoons oil, such as canola, vegetable or other neutral oil
    • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
    • 1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
    • 1 carrot, cut into 2 inch pieces
    • 12 mini squash or 1 large summer squash cut into 2 inch pieces (I used two small yellow summer squash)

Dak Chim Sauce

      • 2 Tablespoons Sweet Soy Base Sauce (see above)
      • 2-3 Tablespoons Seasoned Red Pepper Paste (see above. I used 2 Tablespoons; remember that how much you add will directly affect the spiciness of your dish!)
      • 2 green onions (scallions), minced
      • 1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil (Take a deep whiff from that bottle. Smell that? That smells like Korea!)
      • 3/4 cup water (Umm…I forgot to add this, but it turned out ok. I still recommend adding the water to help the sauce spread out and saturate the chicken and vegetables, but if you forget like I did, then just go with it.)
      1. In a large skillet or wok, with a lid, add the oil and place over medium heat. Add the chicken, potatoes, and carrot and stir fry for 3 minutes.
      2. In a medium bowl, combine the sauce ingredients. Pour the sauce over the chicken and the vegetables. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
      3. Add the squash and cook 5 minutes more. Increase the heat to high and cook until the sauce is reduced and a glaze forms over the chicken and vegetables.

Dak ChimIt seems a little intimidating, but if you prepare the two sauces ahead of time I think the actual Dak Chim recipe will be fairly quick. My potatoes got a little to mushy, but I think that is because I had them in a pot of water because I peeled them before I made my sauces. Also, my Dak Chim sauce did not glaze as nicely as the sauce in the picture. This could be because I didn’t add the water to the sauce though. HaHa! This post is just a list of why I wouldn’t do well as a food blogger!

Despite the mistakes (alterations?) I made with this recipe, it still turned out pretty well. It was spicy, as most Korean food is, and I recommend you try it just to taste the Korean flavors. It was fun to try something new, and now I feel challenged to improve my Korean cooking! Stay tuned for more recipes & best of luck in your own kitchen!

Source: Chung, Taekyung and Debra Samuels. “Dak Chim.” The Korean Table: From Barbecue to Bibimbap/100 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes. North Clarendon: Tuttle Publishing, 2008. 108. Print.

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4 Comments

  1. Reply
    Sandy Gardner 15 June, 2013

    Yum. Just goes to show that a recipe is a GUIDE and not a BIBLE. Well done you. And I liked peeking into your Asian kitchen.

    • Reply
      Bethany 15 June, 2013

      Thanks, Sandy! I love that phrase “a recipe is a Guide and not a Bible.” Perfect idea to remember when cooking!

  2. Reply
    Joyce Rutherford 15 June, 2013

    Dear Bethany (and Jared), I’ve enjoyed all your posts, but this is my favorite. I’m going to give it a try (although I may be a bit sparing with the seasoned red pepper paste. Tennessee taste buds are often a bit timid. Also, I agree with Sandy. Recipes are guides and not written in stone.

    • Reply
      Bethany 15 June, 2013

      Joyce, that means so much to me! I plan to post a new recipe each month; let me know if you have any requests! Best of luck with the recipe!

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