Dearest readers, I did not mean to leave you hanging for, uh, almost three weeks. Please accept my apologies and my offering: a recipe for "barbecued" Korean chicken that I discovered in this cookbook that's been on my shelf since 2002 when I found it in the giveaway pile of an old job, but never actually cracked until a few months ago.
I don't know how I landed on this one recipe seeing as there far too many to count in this book (it's sort of overwhelming, actually), but somehow I did and the first time I made it, Hugo ate almost the entire panful of chicken while Max and I desperately tried to pick off pieces for ourselves, fending off the screeching wild animal each time, and every time I've made it since then it's been nothing sort of a roaring success. So. You need to know about this. Consider it my penance.
The original recipe is meant to be grilled on a grill pan, if you have that kind of thing, and served in lettuce cups with two different kinds of dipping sauces (sweet-sour and spicy-sour) and if your child is adventurous or you are no longer cooking for small, wildly opinionated people, then you should definitely do that. The recipe that I have put here is just for the chicken itself, which will delight people both big and small, but especially the cook, because it is stupid-easy and silly-fast and the payoff is just delicious. I serve the chicken with steamed rice and broccoli drizzled with a little sesame oil, but I dream one day of serving these in lettuce cups and not having Hugo stick out his little tongue to probe the lettuce once only to turn away in utter dejection and disgust.
The only things you need to source for this are a bottle of dark soy sauce, which is thicker and sweeter than regular soy sauce, and a bottle of toasted sesame oil, which you use sparingly and will last for months. The rest - garlic, ginger, sugar and a scallion - should be self-explanatory. You mix together a little marinade, then you shred a bit of raw chicken (you could sully a cutting board and knife for this, but I am lazy, as you already know, and it's easier just to take apart the chicken breast with your hands, believe it or not) and put it in to soak up the marinade. The recipe says you should let it rest for 30 minutes, but I have never, ever, ever, been able to wait this long (see: hungry, impatient wild animal mentioned above) and the chicken has always been divine. So.
Cooking the chicken takes only a minute or two, so if having your whole meal on the table at the same time matters to you, make sure you do your rice/vegetable/lettuce-cup-prep while the chicken is marinating. Then put on an apron, throw your chicken in the pan, let it sizzle up into a fragrant, golden-edge, sticky-sauced delight and watch it disappear almost faster than it took to cook.
Next dispatch will be from Italy! xo
Adapted from The Essentials of Asian Cuisine
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Japanese or Korean dark soy sauce
1/2 ounce ginger, peeled and grated
1 large garlic clove, peeled, crushed, and minced
1 scallion, root and green stems trimmed, and stalk minced
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1. Pull the chicken into child-sized strips or pieces with your hands.
2. Whisk the sugar and soy sauce in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the ginger, garlic, scallion, sesame oil and pepper, if using. Add the chicken and toss to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for up to 30 minutes, refrigerated. If you're in a hurry, let sit in the marinade on the counter for 10 minutes.
3. Place a well-oiled grill pan or nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to smoke, add the chicken (you will have to do this in two batches unless you have an enormous pan). Cook for a minute or two on each side, then serve immediately.