When talking to Jai, I learn something new every time. Who knew that Korean people love eating hot food like dakjuk (chicken rice porridge) when it is super hot outside?!
While on this absurd chicken soup/stew/chili trend, I wanted to represent, my fiancé, Jai’s culture as well. So, I asked Jai what his favorite chicken soup recipe was to eat during the winter in South Korea. He thought about it and couldn’t think of anything! At first, I honestly could not understand. Confusion washed over me. South Korea is known for its stew and soup recipes. How could there not be a single chicken recipe to keep you warm during the winter?!
So, I decided to do my own research. The end result: I found TONS of chicken stew and soup recipes. How did he not know any of these? I returned to him proud and a little smug. Maybe I was even a little bit conceited. This is how the conversation went:
Me: “Hey, Hey. Look what I found,” while showing him the vast amount of printed Korean chicken soup recipes. “What do you mean there aren’t any?”
Him: “What, seriously?,” while taking a look.
Me: “Obviously, I know more about your country than you.” *insert exaggerated/sarcastic hair flip and smirk.
Him: “Yeah, well, you are wrong. We don’t eat these during the winter.” *insert his own smug smile now.
Me: “WHAAAAT” *eyes popping out and cowering with shame for my arrogance.
Well, it turns out Koreans often eat soup during the summer and not the winter. Confusing, right?! I was confused at first, but then researched all about the cultural difference. In Korea there is a common saying: 이열치열 ‘iyeolchiyeol’ which literally translates as ‘fight fire with fire’ or ‘controlling/managing heat with heat’
People in South Korea fight the heat outside by eating soups that are super spicy or boiling hot. This way, they can sweat and cool off. People believe that it gives their stamina back through raising their body temperature. This tradition links all of the way back to eastern medicine traditions which teach that blood needs to circulate in order to cool the body. It is a different way of thinking. Cool cultural difference, right? Maybe we will talk more about this in the actual summer.
After thinking further, Jai finally thought of something Korean which falls into the stew/soup category, involves chicken, and is served during the winter: 닭죽 or Dakjuk. In English, this is known as chicken rice porridge!!! It is so yummy, creamy, warm, smooth to eat, and definitely the best if you have a sore throat.
For those new to Korean food, Dakjuk will not taste completely foreign to you. Instead, it is the best food to start easing you into different Korean recipes. This recipe will remind you of risotto or creamed rice. I would say that Dakjuk is the Korean food that most resembles something you would find in the west. You will not need to go to an Asian market to get any of the ingredients necessary. Dakjuk is the perfect recipe to get your foot in the door with Asian cooking!
Eat this with Kimchi for the perfect Korean meal!
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