The Olympic Seoul Chicken Recipe
I’ve been doing a dance with my oven all week. We’ve been circling each other; it mocking me because I’m afraid of being nailed by the door.
I, on the other hand, have a thing about eating. Call me crazy.
So we’ve tentatively called a truce for the next few days until I can get a handle on things around here.
Because I also need to get a handle on the massive amount of kimchi I’ve got fermenting around here (and there’s more to come, if you can believe it…), I pulled up a great recipe that I’d tucked away from Arthur Schwartz’s website for Olympic Seoul Chicken.
New Yorkers will remember Arthur as the host of a popular radio program in the city for well over a decade and he’s knowledgeable about everything from traditional Neapolitan cooking to where to get the best babka in the Big Apple.
He rightly points out that this recipe is probably more Japanese-inspired than Korean. But since the Olympics were held in Seoul when the recipe first appeared, guesses were that all-things Korean were in vogue at the time—just like here! So I guess it’s true that if you wait long enough, everything comes back in style.
Still, you can tell the original recipe is pretty ancienne since it calls for a whopping ¼ teaspoon of ginger for eight chicken thighs. Plus you can tell it’s an American recipe, since the portion sizes call for 2 thighs per person. In France, one thigh would be sufficient for a meal and if you want to see surgical precision, skip the l’hôpital and watch a French person eat chicken. I don’t know how they manage to scrape of every morsel clean from the bones with their utensils, even from those teeny-tiny quail wings. But it’s pretty impressive to watch.
Still, if given the opportunity, they can indeed get down with their food: I served this the other night and my friends liked it so much they picked up the pieces and started gnawing away. (And one guest was a Rothschild—you go girl!)
But because we Americans are known for our outstanding table manners, I used my chopsticks. ; )
The great thing about this recipe is that it can be cooked very quickly on the stovetop. So if you’re afraid of a noix-nailing oven door, that’s a big plus. You can certainly fiddle with the seasonings and next time, I’m going to add a pour of kimchi juice, which is sure to be anything but sans odeur.
The skinned chicken thighs do tend to stick to the pan, and every time I recommend non-stick cookware, I get messages that I should be using cast-iron, so I’m side-stepping that issue this time. (Okay, okay…I got one.) But removing the skin ensures that the flavor of the marinade permeates the chicken and doesn’t get pushed to the side of the plate. If the skin doesn’t get crisp, I push it aside. Who wants to eat flabby skin? What’s the point?
So when you add the marinade, be sure to scrape up any tasty browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. If you don’t have a skillet large enough, brown them in two batches in a Dutch oven or large casserole. I’ll leave it up to you whether or not to use non-stick or not.
Olympic Seoul Chicken
Serves 4 Americans, or 8 French People
- ¼ cup (60ml) rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) honey
- 1-inch (3cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 8 chicken thighs, skinned
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1½ teaspoon chili powder (I used cochutgaru, but any will do)
- a handful of chopped green onions, including the dark green part
1. Mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, and ginger.
2. Heat enough oil in a large skillet until it just covers the bottom. When it’s hot and shimmering, sauté the chicken thighs until well-browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.
3. Pour in the vinegar mixture, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until done. While the thighs are cooking, turn them a couple of times in the marinade.
4. Once they’re done, remove the cover, add the green onions, and cook for another minute or so, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
Serve with rice, kimchi, toasted nori, or any other accompaniments. Also good with a pile of steamed green beans drizzled with sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds sprinkled on top.
Related recipe: Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Ribs