I don’t always enjoy sharing food, especially when I’m intending to eat it. I’m the person who tries to stab you with my fork when you attempt to sneak fries off my plate.
Those are my fucking fries. If you want fries, get your own. Jackal.
But yesterday, as I was assembling my third of these delicious tacos while sitting at the lunch table, I was just on the verge of full. I wasn’t about to waste a good meal, so I proceeded to layer my last tortilla with the ssam, slaw and chicken. It smelled and tasted excellent, and – as you can imagine – when given the choice of consuming something delicious or listening to my body’s warning impulses (“I’m full, stop eating”), I choose to ignore nature and gorge on goodness. It must have smelled and looked good, since at one point my vegan colleague leaned in, pointed at my assembled tupperware, and said “I don’t eat those things, but if I did, I would eat that.”
It was then that I noticed a few more of my colleagues staring at my assembled taco.
As I’ve said before, one of the few things I like more than enjoying the food I make is sharing it with others (assuming I’m already full) so that they might enjoy it as well.
So when Carolyn (the style and food genius of heyprettything.com) asked for half, I graciously sought out a knife. Another interested party then jumped on board the “I want a bite” train, and before long the last of my lunch had been divided into thirds and was being handed around the table.
A few moment later I sat back, satisfied, as three other (hopefully) happy teachers munched away on my savory, spicy and sweet creation of the previous night.
Each part of this dish rings it’s own special character to the whole. The deep richness of the chicken is balanced by the light, crunchy and sweet kimchi slaw, and both are punctuated by the spice and earthy saltiness of the miso-dominant ssam sauce. The tortilla is simply a convenient delivery system.
Per Carolyn’s request, I’ve attempted to recreate and record the recipe that I made up this past Tuesday.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 4 chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp fresh garlic – minced
- 1 medium white onion – diced
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tbsp gochujang
- 2 tbsp hoisin
- 1 inch fresh ginger root – peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 bunch (7-8) green onions – diced
- tortillas – for serving
- 3 cups green cabbage – shredded
- 1 large carrot – peeled and grated
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 3/4 cup fresh cilantro – chopped
- 3/4 cup kimchi – diced
- 2 tbsp – rice wine vinegar
Simple ssam Sauce:
- 2/3 cup miso
- 1/3 cup gochujang
- 1 small shallot – diced
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper – seeded and diced
The Ssam sauce and the slaw are easy – for each simply mix together the listed ingredients. This can be done while the chicken mixture is cooking.
For the chicken, begin by heating the oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium to medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, add the white onion and garlic, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the garlic is just slightly browning. Remove the onion and garlic to a bowl.
Add the chicken thighs and breasts (I slice the breasts in half for more even cooking) to the same pan, and brown them on each side. This takes about 6 minutes, turning once.
As the chicken is cooking, mix the onions and garlic with the remaining ingredients (not including the tortillas) in a bowl. Add this mixture to the browned chicken, and mix to coat.
Cover the pan and continue to cook the chicken mixture over medium to medium-low heat for about an hour, or until the meat can be easily shredded/pulled apart with two forks. Make sure to stir the mixture and flip the pieces every 5-10 minutes as the sauce reduces in order to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
Shred the chicken, stir it into the sauce, and continue to cook – uncovered – over low heat until you’re ready to eat.
Layer the tortillas with a smear of ssam sauce, a portion of chicken, and a dollop of slaw, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime.