It seems as if the country has gone a bit soup mad of late. It's entirely understandable given the cold weather and the general gloom and doom that dominates the news of late. Comfort food is most definitely required, and if it can be healthy and nutritious that would be a huge plus of course. It is January, the month when many of us try to recover from the excesses of the holidays and kick start a healthier regime as we head into a new year. This year, of course, is like no other January, and we are all dealing with challenges way beyond those we might ordinarily face. We need comfort and healthy nourishment more than ever, that is for certain.
This week’s recipe offers both in abundance. It is not really a soup, more a one-pot casserole, Chicken Sujebi, a Korean dish with chicken, vegetables and beautiful potato dumplings. It is simple enough to make and produces big bowls of tender chicken, crisp vegetables, and succulent dumplings in a beautifully flavoured broth. It should be served with a good chili sauce. I highly recommend either getting hold of some Gochujang, which is one of my favourite food discoveries of the past year, or better yet, make your own. It is a beautiful Korean chilli sauce, and very easy to make. Just pop 100g of brown miso paste, 50g of honey, one grated clove of garlic, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, 50ml of water and 25g of Korean red pepper powder and whisk it well to combine. It will take you no more than five minutes to make and it keeps well in the fridge. I highly recommend it; it is without doubt one of the nicest chilli sauces I have ever eaten. It is a staple now in our home and is wonderful in stir-fries, slathered over a steak, or with some Korean Fried Chicken.
You will find the ingredients you need to make your own Gochujang in any decent Asian Supermarket. If you do not have one near you, AsiaMarket.ie deliver nationwide and are excellent. A good excuse to stock up on your favourite spices at the same time maybe. I find that good Asian Supermarkets are great value, much more reasonable than the big-name supermarkets when it comes to spices and other key ingredients.
I started cooking Korean food last year, as we headed into the first lockdown. It really is wonderful, and relatively straightforward. This dish is a beautiful introduction to Korean cookery. It will also produce a hearty, comforting, delicious and economical meal for four that is perfect for a lazy night in front of the fire.
1 x 1.2kg whole chicken
- 1 bulb garlic
- 3 star anise
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 30g fresh ginger
- 4 sticks of celery
- 6 carrots
- 1 courgette
- 150g baby corn
- 1 onion
- 400g potatoes
- 250g flour
- 1 egg
- Salt & pepper
- Soy sauce
- 3-4 spring onions
First, make your dumpling dough. Start by peeling and then grating the potatoes. I use the coarse section of a box grater for this as the thicker cut gives the dumplings a lovely texture. Now add the flour and the egg. Mix well and knead with your hand until you have a nice dough. This will only take a few minutes. When the dough is made, cover it and pop it in the fridge.
Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken in two lengthways. I do this by cutting through the middle of the breast along the bone and then slicing though. Slice the garlic bulb in half across the centre. Peel the onion and cut that in half. Slice the ginger into long pieces. Scrub two of the carrots and the celery and cut them into chunks. Put all of this into a large saucepan along with two litres of water, the star anise, peppercorns, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for forty-five minutes.
After forty-five minutes, remove the chicken and let it cool a bit before removing the skin and tearing the cooked meat into chunks. Cover the chicken to keep it warm as you finish the dish Remove the vegetables from the stock and discard them. Peel and thinly slice three carrots. Add them to the saucepan and simmer for another five or six minutes. Cut the courgette into two lengthways and then into slices about one centimetre thick. Wash the baby corn and break each one into two pieces. Add them to the stock now too. Bring the pot back to a soft boil.
Time now to make your dumplings. This really is very simple; just pull off a teaspoon-sized piece of dough and flatten it a little before dropping it into the pot. Keep going until you have used all the dough as it will not store well. You need about ten per person, so this quantity will yield about forty in all. The dumplings take just a few mins to cook. They pop up to the surface when done. There is no need to roll them into balls or to worry about the shape, they are meant to be irregular.
Now add the chicken back into the pan, along with three or four teaspoons of soy sauce and a good grind of black pepper. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve your Sujebi in big bowls with generous amounts of chicken, vegetables, and lots of your delicious dumplings. Garnish it with a scattering of finely chopped spring onions and serve with a little bowl of Gochujang or another chilli sauce per person on the side.