Thursday, October 18, 2012

Andong Jjim Dak

This here is Andong Jjim Dak, which literally means steamed chicken from Andong (a region in Korea). It is absolutely delicious. I suspect that MSG might have something to do with that, but frankly, I'm beyond caring. Why does everyone hate MSG so much anyway? Yes, I know it's artificial. And maybe it's "cheating" on flavor. But let me put this out there: Japan has some of the most Michelin stars in the world, and Japanese cuisine is often lauded as one of the world's best. And you know what? MSG is widely used in Japanese cooking. In fact, ajinomoto (MSG) is a common kitchen ingredient alongside soy sauce. It's what adds umami. So let's not knock MSG. Anyway, that was a long digression.

Andong jjim dak, which is sold in Seoul at restaurants with the same name, is a spicy chicken dish made with a secret sauce of soy, red peppers, sugar and spices. It will usually also have clear yam noodles and chunks of potato and some green onions, but that's about it. You order it in small (serves 2), medium (serves 3-4) or large (serves 5-6), and choose the degree of spiciness you want. Then you dig in. Simple. Absolutely delicious - and super cheap, less than $10 per person.

The restaurants are all over Seoul, and there are several competing chains (Andong and Bongchu are two of the biggest), but my favorite is Andong Jjimdak (안동찜닭 in Korean).

Food rating: ****
Bang for buck rating: 5 

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