Several weeks ago I made a visit to Chuncheon, home of the popular dakgalbi dish (spicy barbecue chicken), and was able to try out some excellent old-school sootbul dakgalbi (bbq chicken grilled on charcoals) that I had never had before (see pic below). For those who are unfamiliar with this type of dakgalbi, the chicken pieces are marinated overnight in a spicy sauce and then grilled over an open flame. Similarly to other Korean BBQ dishes, you wrap them in whatever lettuce varieties they offer (red leaf and perilla leaves are the norm), add some ssamjang (red chili pepper sauce), and try desperately to eat in moderation (I failed on that day). Since Chuncheon is so famous for their chicken dishes, I decided to make a traditional chicken dish called dakbokkeumtang, literally translated as “chicken stir fry soup.” I was out of my element trying to cook in a private pension (vacation guest house) without my beloved kitchen tools, but luckily I was able to improvise with some ready-made sauce and thankfully basic kitchenware. The end result was a hearty, spicy, savory, and thoroughly delightful meal enjoyed with great views from our pension house. Good stuff!
A little more about dakbokkeumtang (formerly called dakdoritang): It’s a spicy chicken dish filled with common vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and onions. Chicken wings and drumsticks are often used, but I like larger pieces like the thighs, breasts, and legs for a heartier meal. Since this is a spicy dish, you can modify the recipe for those who cannot tolerate all that spicy goodness. Simply limit the amount of gochujang and gochugaru and replace it with more soy sauce and sugar; sample continuously to make sure it suits your palate. Serve with plain white rice and enjoy!
“I would like to find a stew that will give me heartburn immediately, instead of at three o’clock in the morning.” ~John Barrymore