닭찜 (Dak JJim)

13 Feb

In my first post (#7: 닭갈비), I mentioned a particular restaurant from which I had been lured away on several occasions.  It’s a popular spot with limited seating which means that there’s always a line to get in.  Since my belly – known in some circles as “The Thunder Dome” –  has little patience when feeding time approaches, I had always opted to go elsewhere.  Tonight, however, I had eaten a big lunch that was able to tame the beast long enough to get inside the restaurant.

The restaurant is best known for a dish called 닭찜 (pronounced dak jjim), chicken braised in a spicy soy sauce, flavored with garlic, onions, peppers and various vegetables.  This variation included potatoes, carrots, green onions, cucumbers and flat glass noodles (which of course pose a splatter hazard for innocent bystanders).

After a 20-minute wait, my friend and I sat down and ordered.  Single servings weren’t an option here; diners order at least a full chicken at a time and even the smallest the meal is served in a bowl the size of a truck tire so we decided to split a single bird between the two of us.  Even on my best day I would struggle to down one of these on my own.  The waiter warned us that the dish was spicy – a warning that, in my infinite wisdom, I rarely take seriously.  Usually the waiter is just being overly cautious, assuming that my palate is too delicate to take the heat.  Were we sure that’s what we wanted?

Our meal arrived quickly and after snapping a few photos, I dove in.  The sauce was great, much less salty than I had expected and certainly, I thought, not worthy of the waiter’s disclaimer.  I began snatching up hunks of chicken, potato and noodles, spooning the sauce over rice and laughing at the silly waiter’s warning.  I soon realized, however, that perhaps our server wasn’t just being patronizing when he cautioned me about the heat.

닭찜 Up Close

It wasn’t the fire that had ignited on my tongue that got to me.  That was manageable.  It was my nose and forehead that decided to punish me this time.  My nose alternated between running out of control and clogging up completely and I used half a roll of paper towels wiping sweat from my brow.  But dammit, it was worth it, if only for the sauce.  Despite the havoc it was wreaking on my nasal passages, I kept going back for more.  And more.  You could have tossed out all of the vegetables and I would have been happy.  Only the onions seemed to add any real flavor to the dish.  The noodles were good but also a pain in the ass as they kept slipping through my chop sticks.  Even the chicken was tender and, by all means delicious, but not totally necessary.  Just give me a bowl of that sauce, a pile of rice and a roll of paper towels and I’ll be set.

3 Responses to “닭찜 (Dak JJim)”

  1. Stuart Joseph Gladney February 14, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    This reminds me of Costanza sweating b/c of the Kung Pow

  2. eastmeetsmacon February 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Graham likes his chicken spicy!

  3. resIpsa April 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    dam, that sauce musta been the biznazzz, Glam!
    throw out the vegetables & the chicken???
    don’t hurt ’em.

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