SEOUL, AND CHICKEN GALBI RAMEN
THANK YOU, SEOUL, FOR CARRYING THIS LIMP SPIRIT THROUGH ITS STREETS, FEEDING HER WITH NOURISHMENT, GIVING HER SUNLIGHTS.
So, 7 days went fast. And we’re back.
This past week, instead of a “vacation”, was really closer to being on a emotional exile. After two years of relentless, losing battles against too much realities, I just wanted, no, needed to be casted away, to somewhere unfamiliar, string-less… without memories, where I don’t have to… function. Where I could just drift. If only for a little bit. So in a sense, it isn’t really fair, to the city that happened to be used as my emotional rebound. Seoul.
We spent two days in Seoul following Hong Kong (which was more like a business trip for Jason). It was, without saying, not nearly enough time to properly court a great city so rich and immersed in its cultures and cuisines, let alone in a state of mind that was… exhausted at best. I think next time we go on another trip, we will need to be more prepared. Even being able to compare van insurance from the comfort of your own home would have made life a little easier for us on this trip. A family friend recommended this to us, but we didn’t take up the offer this time round. But I know we will next time. Normally, I attack my travels with mannerless enthusiasm, seeking if not prying for all it has to give whether or not it’s being offered. But this time, I wasn’t really thinking about that, about work, the duty of a blogger, about the game. I was wondering without thoughts. If I saw something, I ate. If I felt something, I took a photo. At best, the memory was documented in loose fragments, then slowly pieced back together as I uploaded my mindlessness into digital form, computed at last . So I’m not even going to pretend that I was capable of any profound insights, opinions, or even recommendations for Seoul. I would not insult it like that. Nor can I say when to go to Seoul, since I wasn’t in the mind during my visit. Instead, this is a mirage of its potentials, not fully explored, but it lays the promise of future reunion.
But above all else, I should probably say thank you, to Seoul. For carrying this limp spirit through its streets, even if only for a couple days, feeding her with nourishment, giving her sunlights, though at times, she stared blankly into space. For that, I will always be grateful.
Oh and by the way, this chicken galbi thing it’s got? Basically boneless thighs marinated in gushing garlicky red, then caramelised inside a hot skillet then tossed with carbs and hot cheese. Sick. Just sick. Just something, I guess, to miss Seoul by.
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Just one last thought. If you were ever in Seoul. Drink this.
CHICKEN GALBI RAMEN:
- 14 oz (400 grams) boneless chicken thighs
- 7 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp (15 grams) diced scallion
- 1 tsp (10 grams) ginger
- 3 1/2 tbsp (74 grams) korean chili paste/gochujang
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) sake wine
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) apple juice
- 1 tbsp (15 grams) soy sauce
- 1 tbsp (14 grams) toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tsp (11 grams) honey
- 1 tsp Shin Ramen seasonings
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp Korean chili flakes/gochu, or more if preferred
- 1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, plus more to sprinkle
- 2 disks (212 grams) Shin Ramen
- 2 cups (100 grams) sliced scallions
- 1 cup (87 grams) shredded provolone cheese
- 2.9 oz (83 grams) The Laughing Cow original cheese cubes, torn in half
- 1 cup crushed Korean seaweed
- TO MARINATE THE CHICKEN: Peel the skin off of the chicken thighs, then cut into small chunks and set aside. Cut the chicken into small strips, then set aside in a large bowl. In a blender, run garlic, scallion, ginger, gochujang, sake wine, apple juice, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, honey, Shin Ramen seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper and curry powder until smoothly pureed. Transfer the mixture onto the chickens, then add Korean chili flakes and toasted sesame seeds. Toss until even, and let marinate for at least 2 hours to 4 hours.
- TO COOK: Blanch the Shin Ramen in boiling water until softened but still al dente. Rinse under water to cool off completely, then drain off any excess water. Toss with 1tsp toasted sesame oil to prevent sticking, and set aside.
- Heat a large flat skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken skins. Once you have about 1 tbsp of chicken fat rendered, remove the skin and discard (leaving the fat in the skillet). Add the sliced scallions and marinated chickens (with all the liquid). Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally but not too frequent (to allow more caramelization), until the chicken is cooked through. Add the blanched Shin Ramen and toss until evenly coated in sauce (if you find it a little dry, add a tbsp of water or so). You can now either layer the shredded provolone cheese and The Laughing Cow cheese on top, and melt them under a preheated broiler, or you can simply toss them into the noodle over the stove until melted (which is how it was done in the restaurant).
- Sprinkle the crushed Korean seaweed over the top and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Binge immediately.
I didn't add rice cake or sliced cabbages to the recipe. I love rice cakes, but in the case of chicken galbi, I found them to be bland due to the lack of sauce to cook them in. You can add them if you want to, but not too much that it throws the seasoning off balance. And I didn't have cabbage on hand... didn't think I missed it either.
Korean seaweed is brushed with toasted sesame oil and salt. If unavailable, you can use Japanese seaweed which is less seasoned.