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Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

I came home today to joyful news: one of my best friends from high school is engaged. In fact, she is the first of my close friends from high school to get engaged.

It’s moments like these that I get that little twinge of homesickness. I wish I could put on my imaginary running shoes complete with Hermes-like wings on the heels. I would run and fly as fast as I could straight home so that I could sit in Lauren’s living room, the hot fingers of a fire crawling up our backs. We would sit there with warm blankets wrapped around us, a Ledo’s pizza in front of us, and mugs of spiked hot chocolate ready for us to devour then go back for seconds.

“How did he do it?” I’d say. “Where was it? Did you cry? Show me the ring!” I wouldn’t give her a chance to talk until all of my questions were out of my system. Then she would show me the dazzling ring, tell me the full story with all the boring details, and we would giggle well into the night.

But this little, flitty, girlish fantasy will not come true. We will skype…once she is awake. I will see the ring…in gritty, blocky pixels. I will ask all of the questions…one at a time since there will be a lag in the audio and she will start answering after she hears the first question, thus blocking out the rest.

It’s at times like these that I get that little throb in my chest telling me I can’t live abroad forever. It’s at times like these that I just want to sit with my closest friends and watch a movie, we don’t even need to talk. It’s at times like these that I get up, put my apron on, and cook. Because, quite frankly, it’s at times like these that cooking is the only thing that makes me feel like home, no matter how small my kitchen is.

Chicken nostalgia
Photo by Anna Waigand

So tonight, I share my recipe for a simple white wine sauce with chicken legs. Nothing fancy. Nothing fresh. Nothing new. Instead, sometimes it’s just that little touch of “There ain’t nothing Korean about this” that makes it all worthwhile.

Simple chicken legs in white wine sauce
Photo by Anna Waigand

Chicken legs simmered in a simple white wine sauce
(For my Ghetto BBJG and her new plant in the garden)

5 chicken legs (medium)
Coarse salt
4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed and chopped (Fresh is better, if available)
Butter, 1 Tbl and 2 Tbl
3 garlic heads, minced
1 medium white onion, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth (or water if chicken broth is unavailable)
3 squirts of lemon juice (about 1/2 tsp)
Salt
White pepper

1. Rub chicken legs with coarse salt, white pepper and 3 tsps of rosemary.
2. Melt 1 Tbl butter with 1 minced garlic head in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
3. Place chicken legs in pan. Brown on each side.
4. Remove chicken legs and set aside, covered.
5. Turn heat down to medium. Melt 2 Tbl butter. Add onions and 2 minced garlic heads to pan. Saute until start becoming translucent.
6. Add white wine, 1 tsp crushed, chopped dried rosemary, chicken broth (if using water, add more salt to taste), lemon juice in pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Add chicken legs to white wine sauce. Cover and cook for 15 minutes (or until done), turning the chicken halfway through.
8. Serve on rice and enjoy the delicious simplicity.

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Looks good right?
Photos by Andre Francisco

I was hungry.

I’d had a long morning powered only by a bagel from Dunkin Donuts, and I was about to start my day at my school without a proper lunch. Just outside the Bonghwasan stop and on the way to my school is a giant five-story Home Plus grocery store. I stared in awe the first time a saw it. The first floor has a varied food court that I hoped could provide me with some sustenance other than the McDonald’s I knew would be waiting for me at the end of my walk to my school.

The food court has half a dozen windows like any mall food court, but they are all in Korean so I have only a vague idea of what they serve except for the Dunkin Donuts. I’d already been to the one in my neighborhood that morning, so that was out.

In the center of the food court are a couple of food stand outposts including an ice cream stand and a flashy sanitized version of a Korean street food vendor. The green plywood and bubbling pot of hot oil that characterizes most street food stands is replaced by a well-lit glass case full of neatly stacked piles of fried food.

At the end of the case were some tall drink cups with what looked like popcorn chicken sticking out. I pointed and one of the overly smiley attendants said “Chicken Coke.” I’d seen something like this long ago on Serious Eats, and I’d been wishing I could have one ever since. For those of you who haven’t heard of this breakthrough in food design before, a Chicken Coke is a fountain drink cup with a smaller fitted cup that sits in the top of the cup. This allows you to fill the main cup half full with Coke and then fill the smaller cup full with fried chicken. A straw sneaks past the chicken into the Coke so you can hold your drink and snack in one hand and eat the chicken with the other. Great idea.

Chicken on top, coke on the bottom!

It was only 2,000 won. I had to order it. Immediately I was worried about the execution of this triumph in food architecture. When you order already deep fried food on the street, the vendor pops it back into the oil to reheat it for you, but being in a modern street food stand the woman threw my cup of chicken bits into the microwave for a 20-second jolt. She then unscrewed an already opened plastic liter Coke bottle and filled me cup. My enthusiasm had been nearly flattened in that 20 seconds because I knew I would be facing flat Coke (the worst) and soggy chicken. She then squirted a thick orange sauce generously over the chicken. I half-hoped the sauce would be good enough to cover the chicken flavor, but I didn’t have high hopes.

Inside of a Chicken Coke

The Coke was flat. The chicken was cold and soggy. The sauce was pretty bad – semi-spicy with some citrus and a sweet syrup. The texture of the chicken was especially unsettling. Usually with fried and street food I try not to inspect it too closely. I just go ahead and eat it. For some reason I felt compelled to bite one of the nuggets in half and see what was inside. I was greeted with a gray lump clearly formed from the worst ground chicken parts. It was way below McDonald’s nugget standards, let alone their Chicken Selects meals. I actually ended up throwing the last third of both the chicken and the Coke out, something I rarely do as a ten-year member of the Clean Your Plate Club.

More photos of my terrible Chicken Coke adventure can be found on Flickr.

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Photo by Anna Waigand

My sophomore year in college I took a class that required interviewing strangers on the street in January in Chicago. It was so cold my pen would freeze. During winter in Chicago, no one wants to stay outside longer to talk to some student.

Luckily, I had a refuge from the cold weather and cold shoulders: the corner Popeye’s. For the unaccustomed, Popeye’s is the better and more southern version of KFC. They bill themselves as authentic Louisiana cooking with fried chicken, red beans and rice, cole slaw, mashed potatoes with Cajun gravy and some wonderful biscuits. They serve some good chicken, and I find their biscuits with honey so irresistible that I can barely pass a Popeye’s without stopping in for one regardless of how hungry I am.

All this goes to say that when I saw a Popeye’s sign Sunday while walking through Children’s Grand Park under a drizzly gray sky I was ecstatic and suddenly hungry.

Koreans are pretty into fried chicken. In our two days here we’ve seen a half dozen fried chicken places all with a fleet of delivery motor scooters outside, but we have yet to stop in.

The Popeye’s in Children’s Grand Park is located inside the amusement park and is connected to another food counter serving traditional Korean food. Popeye’s in the U.S. have metal racks behind the counter filled with fried chicken divided into spicy and regular. Here the racks were there, but there wasn’t a single piece of chicken. There was no one behind the counter, but someone appeared as I walked up.


Photo by Andre Francisco

Even though I was excited to taste some fried chicken from home, I was disappointed by the menu changes. All of the side dishes were replaced with French fries, and their standout biscuits were missing – a grave error. There was a small menu in Korean that I couldn’t read next to the combo pictures, but if they had the traditional sides or biscuits, they would have come with the combos instead of French fries. The menu had some new items, mainly hamburgers, which were clearly more about Popeye’s being from America than Louisiana.

P1020106
Photo by Anna Waigand

I ordered the two piece meal with a drink and fries for 7,900 won, an alright price for amusement park food, but pretty expensive for Seoul. Since they didn’t have any chicken ready they told me it would be 10 minutes for my food, even though there was only one other couple in the place.

The chicken
Photo by Anna Waigand

A couple minutes later I got my chicken fresh out of the fryer. The crust had a great golden brown color and was just as tasty as in the states. The flesh was wonderfully juicy, but it didn’t stop the skin from being loudly crunchy. The fries were under seasoned, but well cooked. I wasn’t asked what kind of drink I wanted, but they decided to give me Coke – a good guess.

Wet wipes - smart
Photo by Anna Waigand

Unlike in the US, they included some Popeye’s brand wet-wipes, which is something I think every Popeye’s should adopt. Their chicken is best enjoyed messy.

I missed the spicy option and the packets of hot sauce, but the taste was a great reminder of home. It’s a great hidden gem in the expanse of Children’s Grand Park for anyone craving some American fast food. To find it take Line 7 to the Children’s Grand Park station then grab a map from the information building just inside the gates. The amusement park is on the opposite side of the park, and there are signs for the Popeye’s outside the amusement park.

To see more pictures from this adventure check out the Flickr set.

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