Tuesday, June 19, 2012

쉽지 않지만 맛있는 닭볶음탕 (Not so Easy but Delicious Dak Bokkeum Tang)

As I mentioned in a previous post, we were recently in New York, visiting with friends that we had met in Korea. We decided to make them some 딹볶음탕 (a spicy chicken dish) to say thanks for having us in their home and showing us around NYC. I thought I'd share the recipe here in case anyone else was interested in trying it at home.

But first, a little fun Husband had before he butchered the chicken. Check out his blog at liruda.blogspot.com. He writes in English and Korean!

요리재료  Ingredients
생닭 한 마리      one whole uncooked chicken     
당근 2개            two carrots
감자 2개            two potatoes
양파 2개            two onions
고추장               gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
고춧가루            gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
설탕                  sugar
참기름               sesame oil
마늘                   garlic
간장                   soy sauce

만드는법  Method
1. 닭은 한번 데쳐낸다.
    Butcher the chicken and boil it for about one minute. Then drain and set aside.

2. 감자와 당근은 깍뚝 썰고 양파는 채 썬다.
     Cut the carrots, potatoes, and onions into large chunks.

3. 양념장을 비율로 만든다. 고추장 1, 고춧가루 3:1, 설탕 1:1, 참기름 (조금), 간장 1:1,
    다진 마늘 (많이) 놓고 양념장을 만든다.
     Depending on how much chicken you have, you can make the marinade using the
     following ratio: gochujang 1, gochugaru 3:1, sugar 1:1, a little sesame oil,
     soy sauce 1:1, and as much chopped garlic as you like. Put the ingredients in a
     bowl and mash them into a paste. Taste and adjust as necessary. 

4. 냄비에 감자와 당근, 양파를 놓고 살짝 볶다가 닭을 놓고 양념장을 놓고 볶는다.
     Quickly soften the potatoes, carrots, and onions, and then add the chicken and

5. 재료가 물에 반 쯤 잠길 만큼 물을 놓고 물이 거의 졸아 없어질 때까지 끓여준다.
    Fill the pot halfway with water and then let it cook down until the excess water is gone,
    stirring occasionally.

6. 친구량 밥과 맛있는 닭볶음탕을 먹는다.
    Enjoy delicious dak bokkeum tang with your friends!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

한국어를 왜 공부해요? (Why Study Korean?)

Sometimes I question why I invested so much time and energy into studying a language that is spoken in only one country (Well, two I guess, if I ever make it to North Korea). After all, I studied French for almost ten years, and still can barely manage to put a sentence together. Wouldn't that have been a more productive use of my time?

Being married to a Korean might be part of the reason, but actually, I rarely speak Korean with my husband outside silliness and playing around. All the meaty conversations of our life together are conducted in English. So why bother studying, especially now that I'm proficient enough to meet all my basic needs, and I don't even live in Korea anymore?

Today reminded me why.

Husband and I are currently visiting New York and staying with some friends that we met back in Korea (though they're not Korean). To say thanks for putting us up in their place for the week, we wanted to cook them some delicious 닭볶음탕. They had told us that the market close to their house stocked a lot of Korean items, so we went there to pick up some stuff for the meal. We overheard the shopkeepers speaking Korean, so when we couldn't find any 고추장, Husband encouraged me to ask the shop lady in Korean. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "저... 고추장 있어요?"
[Excuse me, do you have any gochujang?]
Shopkeeper: "고추장?"
[Gochujang?] (laughing) "I think we have one left. Over there."
Me: (seeing that it was 삼장 not 고추장) "이것이 삼장인데. 매운 고추장 없어요?"
[This is samjang. You don't have any spicy gochujang, do you?]

At which point she realized that I had at least some competency in Korean. She broke out into a big smile and called to the other shopkeeper in the back to bring out the real 고추장 for this Korean-speaking-American-looking girl.

As she was ringing up our purchases, she asked me, "어떻게 한국어를 말할 줄 알아요?" [How do you know how to speak Korean?]
To which I answered, "한국에 살았어요." [I lived in Korea.]

But even that wasn't a good enough answer. She continued to ask me why I could speak Korean even after I introduced her to Husband and explained he is Korean. Finally he explained that we had been living in Korean for a long time and were just visiting the states, not living here. This she seemed to accept and laughed, then proceeded to chat with us for another few minutes.

So aside from my need for 고추장, why is it that I study Korean? Well, I guess it's probably the reason that most people take up studying a language outside from external pressures like passing an exam or getting a job. It makes us part of a new community, gives us a home away from home, and genuinely gives us opportunities to connect with people we might never have had the pleasure of meeting otherwise.

Free 고추장 isn't bad either.