I have tried so many variations of this dish. I got the idea from Alexandra’s Kitchen, who got the recipe from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 6. According to Alexandra, the original recipe uses a good amount of butter and only salt and black pepper for seasoning. I gotta be honest. I’m sure the original way is delicious but I have this mental problem where I like to make things complicated. I rarely leave things alone–if it looks simple, instinctively, my brain is like: oh hey, wait, let me add this and change that around and stop right now and go do that other thing and then come back and then.. what was I doing again? Why did I take out the doenjang? This is when I have to physically remove myself from the situation and take a breather.
Well, this was definitely one of those times. I’ve used different rice, added wine, swiss chard, mushrooms, peas and carrots. I tried to make it completely Korean (as opposed to kind-of-Korean, which is this recipe) by adding the typical Korean ingredients of soy sauce, red pepper powder, sesame oil, and a good amount of minced garlic. I’ve swapped out the celery completely with napa cabbage only. On a whim, since I had the ingredients laying out, I made a sort of sambal with the ginger, jalapeno, garlic, and fish sauce.
I have to say most the renditions I’ve made came out really good. Only 1 was a complete loser (I added the Korean seasoning to the original recipe which contains a lot of butter. In theory: butter + red pepper powder + soy sauce + garlic = yummy! But no, it’s not yummy, It’s very off-putting and way too greasy. It’s probably the chicken.)
Once I found a potential winner, I tweaked it and this recipe is the final result. Okay, no, it’s probably not final because when I make this again, I’m sure I’ll change something. But maybe that’s the beauty of this recipe. You can change it around and it’ll turn out alright 99% of the time. Those are some pretty good odds.
The main thing to take away from the recipe is the technique rather than the ingredients. The way I do it here has a few more steps because I’m using Arborio rice and making a kind-of-risotto. Check out the original recipe at Alexandra’s Kitchen for the easy-to-follow steps. Continue reading on if you are a fellow complicater-of-things.
The first batch of sambal I used one green and one red jalapeno because that’s what I had. For a prettier color, go with all red peppers. Taste-wise, it’s the same.
I’ve made this recipe with 3 and 4 chicken thighs. The package of thighs I bought when I was testing this particular batch only had 3 so the instructions are for 3 thighs. If you decide to do 4 thighs you will need slightly less water (like 2 T. less) otherwise, your rice will be a bit more “saucy”.
I decided to debone the chicken because I was making this so often and this extra prep made the rest of the dish go smoothly.
Since vegetables release some water and the water to rice ratio is important, I recommend starting with the amounts stated in this recipe and then experimenting. You can add water during the last part of cooking but it doesn’t taste the same as getting the water right the first time. Also, too much and you end up with porridge.
For this recipe I used celery, napa, and swiss chard. I’ve also tried all napa cabbage (about 10 oz) and that worked too. The onion is a must.
I’ve tried this with Basmati and Arborio rice. I don’t recommend this with Sushi rice. I don’t think sticky will work here. But by all means, experiment and let me know!
You can substitute the jalapenos with any spicy chili of your choice.
Do NOT salt the chicken. The soy sauce is plenty salty. Taste towards the end and adjust your salt preference.
This keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge and warms up nicely in the microwave. The sambal will probably benefit from sitting another day or so. I’ve never had it go past a day, we eat it all.Kind-of-Korean Chicken “Risotto” with Sambal
adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen, who adapted it from Canal House Cooking Volume No. 6
Makes 4 servings. Takes 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- 3 deboned chicken thighs, skin-on
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped into small pieces
- 5 oz. napa leaves, chopped into small pieces (about 4 medium sized leaves)
- 3 large swiss chard leaves, stemmed and chopped into medium pieces
- 1 large piece kelp
- 1 cup Arborio rice, rinsed a few times
- 2 cups water
- 3 large green onions, sliced
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 2 T. mirin
- 1 t. fish sauce
- 1 t. roasted sesame oil
- 1 t. doenjang (Korean fermented bean paste)
- 1 thin slice ginger, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t. toasted sesame seeds
- 1 big garlic, chopped
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 inch slice ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 jalapenos, roughly chopped (seeds in for spicy, seeds out for not)
- 1 t. fish sauce
Chicken and rice:
Seasoning for rice:
Place a large dutch oven or a similar heavy-bottom pot over high heat, add a tablespoon of neutral oil. Let it get smoking hot and swirl the oil around. Add the chicken skin side down and cook undisturbed for about 10 minutes or so until it is deeply brown. Flip over and cook for a few minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Use tongs and blot excess oil with a paper towel. Leave just a bit so the pot has a thin film of oil.
While the chicken is browning, chop up the onion, celery, and napa cabbage. Mince the garlic and ginger. Combine the seasoning ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Once the chicken is browned and the oil is blotted, add the onion, celery, napa cabbage, and kelp to the pot. Pour in the seasoning and 1 cup of water. Nestle the chicken, skin side up, in between the vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes.
Once the 20 minutes is up, take the chicken out and set aside. Add the rice to the pot along with the 1 cup water. Place the chicken directly on top again. Bring to boil, lower to a simmer, cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop up the swiss chard. After the 15 minutes are up, take the chicken out again. Stir the rice around and smooth to an even layer. Add the swiss chard on top of the rice in an even layer. Place the chicken on top again, bring to boil, lower to simmer, cover with lid and cook for another 15 minutes.
Finally, take the chicken out, cut into small pieces, add back to the pot, stir to mix well and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Add the green onions, turn up the heat to medium-high and stir vigorously for a minute or two before serving.
Serve with Sambal on the side.
I used a mortar and pestle so the instructions will follow accordingly. I have not tried this in food processor but I imagine it’ll work just fine.
First pound and grind the sesame seeds until it is a rough paste. Add the garlic and pinch of salt and pound to a paste. Repeat with ginger. Then the jalapenos. Add the fish salt and stir with a spoon or small spatula, mix very well. Adjust to taste with more fish sauce or salt if desired.