05 June 2008

Korean Barbecued Chicken

Dak Kalbi
Dak Kalbi (with title)
Okay, for all of you who love it when I tell my stories, I promise this one is a doozy. I would've told you sooner on Yahoo!IM, Graeme, but I wanted to preserve your reaction right here in the comments section (that hopefully won't be distilled to "You IDIOT!"). This may very well be the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me, erasing all previous records set. The reason I feel comfortable sharing it with you guys is because, well, it's you guys, and I found myself laughing about it a little later. When it comes to self-deprecation, I am king. I don't mind since I kick ass 95% of the time anyway. (uhh... kidding)

As I'd just finished my exam last week, I was looking forward to some shopping. I planned on getting a wireless guitar for our XBox 360 so I can see what all the Guitar Hero fuss is about. I thought one place may have been selling it for P1900 ($43), but they no longer had any so I took the rail to another shopping mall so I could meet my friend Vany (she comments here occasionally) to possibly watch a movie and pick up books for my next exam. I don't know what the HELL I was thinking, but I misstepped the gap in between the sliding door of the train and the ledge, and my heel went over the gap, my foot slipped, and my WHOLE LEG WAS STUCK IN THE GUTTER.

(Diagram of what the fiasco looked like.)
Here's a transcript of what happened:
Time 00:00.10 Me: SHIT! FUCK!
Time 00:00.20 Two young ladies on the train: EEEEEEEE!
Uh, that's about it. I don't shout or panic, because that's not me (except if you throw a rat or cockroach at me). Here's thoughts I made up now that I could've been thinking had I not been concentrating on getting my leg the fuck out of there.
Time 00:01.00 God, I knew those leg presses would be my death one day!
Time 00:02.32 How come no one's pulling me out of this sinkhole?
Time 00:03.57 There's no way this train will run, as my body will prevent the doors from closing... Crap, that's gotta be doubly embarrassing if I get crushed by the doors with my leg stuck here!

Eventually, my other leg was enough leverage to free me when I put all my strength into one push (hey, leg presses kind of saved my life!). Then I proceeded to hold one of the rails as I checked my new jeans for any traces of grease, rust, or dirt. Everything okay. Then I checked my leg. Everything functioning. Some nice foreign man who looked like Santa Claus asked me if I was okay, then I laughed. "Probably more embarrassed than anything." YES, I laughed. He commended me for my quick reaction, saying if it were him, he'd still probably be down there. "Something to tell your grandkids!" I'd rather not, I said. I think the other people, while I was carrying on this conversation, were still in a state of shock and thinking WTF?
Porny, huh?
It didn't hurt immediately after but after a few hours of shopping with Vany, it became really sore, and true enough, there was a huge hematoma and some muscle swelling, but not enough to compromise circulation in my leg, so I just applied warm compresses.
Shopping Bags
You're probably wondering if some of my circuitry is outta whack since I checked my jeans after that 5-second ordeal, but it was really just my pride kicking in in front of my "audience", plus my leg felt fine for the most part. I'd just bought them 2 weeks ago when I was getting stir-crazy studying intensely for my test which was a week away, so I escaped for an afternoon at the mall and bought the jeans on sale from Topman (one doesn't walk away from 50+% off on jeans at Topman empty-handed), a shirt from Buffalo (a Canadian brand) I'm excited to wear, a slick tie and belt from Topman, and some cooking supplies. The Springfield bag is another sale purchase a few weeks back.
Mess in My Room
Maybe I should be cutting back on stuff... This is one corner of my room last week. Shopping bags, hockey equipment, cooking magazines, cookbooks, study materials, and songbooks. It's cleared up now, except for the cooking magazines.

Last Sunday my mom surprised me one morning and said, I've bought chicken breasts. Can you cook them for lunch? Okay, it was not a great surprise, and in my head I was thinking, "You gotta warn me in advance! I need vegetables and spices!" Thankfully, I already had something I've wanted to make for a long time that I prepared for in advance-- by buying a tub of Gochujang.

Korean cuisine is one of my favorites, if only for their fearlessness in the spice department. My absolute favorite dish is Dak Bulgogi (here, since we have big chunks of chicken, it's more correctly called Dak Kalbi), but it has to be prepared a certain way. Definitely red and spicy, perfect with rice. The whole family loved this dish, and I'm looking forward to cooking it a lot, especially when I haven't prepared anything in advance! The recipe is adapted from My Korean Kitchen-- I wasn't able to follow it exactly as I had few vegetables and I wanted a spicier, saucier version. I just threw this together so the measurement aren't exact, but it's hard to screw up.

Dak Kalbi

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or skin-on chicken breast, butterflied and pounded flat for Dak Bulgogi)

  • 2 tbsp Shao Hsing cooking wine

  • 1 tsp powdered ginger

  • 1 tsp crushed dried red pepper

Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes (or leave whole for Bulgogi). Mix with the other ingredients well and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  • 6 tbsp Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste, very easily found in any respectable grocery selling Korean products. If not, they should close already.)

  • 2 tbsp chili powder

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar

  • 2 tsp Korean yellow curry powder (I didn't have this on hand, so I used turmeric just for the heck of it, which didn't do much except tinge my chicken yellow. I'd skip it.)

  • 2 cloves garlic, grated

  • 1 medium onion, grated

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Take 1/4 of the mixture and add it to the chicken pieces, stirring thoroughly until all the pieces are coated. Set the chicken aside in the fridge for an hour; set the remaining sauce aside as well.

Preheat a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat and add in about 3 tbsp vegetable oil. Stir-fry the chicken pieces until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. (If using whole butterflied chicken breasts, you may instead use a grill pan or barbecue. Baste with a bit of the remaining sauce as it grills.)

In the still-hot wok, pour in the sauce you set aside and let it boil for 15 seconds. Pour over the cooked chicken and toss to coat. Serve hot with rice.

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