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Category: Cuisine

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

If you’re looking for a quick and delicious way to enjoy broccoli, this simple broccoli salad might just become your new favorite. Inspired by my recent trip to Seoul and reminiscent of banchan, the dizzying array of small side dishes that accompany a Korean BBQ read more

Corn Cheese

Corn Cheese

You don’t see a lot of cheese in most Asian cuisines. But boy does that change in South Korea! Dating back to the war when American army bases would hand out some of their rations like Spam, canned corn, corn meal, and sliced cheese, Koreans read more

Poached Chicken

Poached Chicken

In theory I get the appeal of meal prepping. In practice though the idea of making a big batch of say, chicken and rice, on a Sunday and then eating that same chicken and rice on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday is my personal idea of hell. How do I know on Sunday what I will be craving on Friday?!  The monotony of it all makes me sad. I feel like meal prepping is for people who don’t really enjoy cooking and don’t see it as a creative pursuit in and of itself. But I do get the appeal of opening the fridge and having some of the work already done. So my idea of meal prepping is to have ingredients, rather than meals, prepped and ready to go so that I can reap the benefits of planning ahead while still satisfying my desire to cook and eat in the moment. And that’s where this Poached Chicken comes in.

If you think this is a dish that belongs back in your grandmother’s country club era, think again. Perfectly poached chicken is lusciously tender, and a blank canvas for an endless variety of delicious and healthy meals. Sandwiches, salads, noodle bowls, tacos, and more can be ready in minutes if you have these poached chicken breasts sitting pretty in your fridge, so let’s get into it.

ingredients for poached chicken

Poached Chicken has a bad rap for being bland and dry. But not with my method! A flavorful poaching liquid and gentle cooking insures perfect results every time. Seasoning the poaching liquid with  ginger, garlic, bay leaves and onions gives the chicken a nice flavor base without overpowering it so it can still be used in any recipe.

When I was a kid, there was one Thanksgiving where we had to leave during the day to visit some friends. We had only been cooking the turkey for a hour and worried that we would come home and the turkey would be raw, forcing my mom to scramble to get the meal on the table. Shockingly, when we cut into the turkey, it was fully cooked and probably the best turkey we had ever tasted. Moist, tender, and oh so juicy. The idea of cooking meat on high heat at first and then finishing the cooking on residual heat is not new but it was the first time for me that I tasted what a transformation it could have on meal. Lean protein in particular, like boneless skinless chicken breasts, really benefit from this method of cooking.

smashed garlic poached chicken

ginger onion poached chicken

For this recipe I seek out smaller chicken breasts, around 8 ounces each. This helps them to cook evenly and in less time so they stay moist. If using larger chicken breasts cut them in half (crosswise) before proceeding. I also use a fork to pierce the chicken all over, this both helps it absorb the flavors of the poaching liquid and shortens the cooking time.

The pot you use is important. It needs to be big enough to hold 8 cups of water and fit the chicken breasts in an even layer. I used a 4 quart pot but anything up 6 quarts should work fine. If you’re planning on poaching say 4 breasts, I suggest you cook in two batches rather than dumping two more breasts into the pot. But you can re-use the same poaching liquid. This technique relies on transferring heat from the poaching liquid to the meat and you want to have plenty of liquid to bathe the raw meat.

lemon poached chicken

salt pepper poached chicken

simmer chicken

Letting the brine simmer for 10 minutes makes a perfectly seasoned poaching liquid. After the 10 minutes I remove the lemon so the bitter citrus flavor doesn’t become super pronounced.

I cook the chicken for precisely 3 minutes, and then cover and remove from the heat. Then it continues to gently cook (off heat) for another 13-15 minutes until cooked through. You can test for doneness by either using a meat thermometer or just cutting into one.  Now you have perfectly poached chicken ready to be used in your favorite recipes. It will hold in the fridge for several days. It is traditionally served cold, but you can gently reheat in the microwave. I like to serve it with a dipping sauce, the scallion ginger sauce from my Hainanese Chicken is a superb pairing. If you like it spicy Prik Nam Pla is excellent too. You can use it to add protein to a simple salad dressed with Roasted Sesame Dressing. I’m excited to hear how you’ll use these Poached Chicken breasts, let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you.

 

 

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recipe poached chicken

Poached Chicken

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: entrees
  • Cuisine: pan-Asian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 piece ginger (roughly the size of half a lemon, sliced
  • ½ large onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • ½ Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons sea salt
  • 23 chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium deep large pan with the water, bay leaves, ginger, onion, garlic, salt and peppercorns. Your pot needs to be able to fit the chicken in one layer, so that the chicken will be completely submerged in the hot liquid.
  2. Juice the lemons into the water, and then add the lemons to the pot as well. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  3. With a fork, prick your chicken breasts liberally on both sides. This will help the brine and heat penetrate the meat.
  4. Remove the lemons, add the chicken breasts, turn the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. The liquid will not come to a simmer and that’s ok-trust the process. 
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and let the chicken sit for about 13-15 minutes until the chicken reaches 160 degrees with a thermometer (you can also take one breast out and cut into it to check).
  6. Remove the chicken from the liquid and it’s ready for use.

Notes

*You can chill and store the chicken breasts in the fridge whole until ready to use. The chicken breasts are good for several days.

*These chicken breasts are lightly seasoned and can be served topped with sauce or mixed with a dressing. Increase the salt by ½ Tablespoon if you prefer more pronounced seasoning.

*For best results, use evenly sized breasts that are as close to 8 ounces each. If your chicken breasts are incredibly large, cut them in half crosswise first before poaching. 

*You can use the poaching liquid to cook more chicken breasts, although I recommend cooking only 2 at a time. Add a little more salt before repeating.  

 

Keywords: poached chicken, meal prep, poaching, healthy, chicken

Soy Glazed Potatoes

Soy Glazed Potatoes

Whenever I tell people that I don’t love potatoes, they gasp as if I just said I hate kittens. But it’s true, they aren’t my fave veggie by a long shot. I usually find them kind of bland and boring. Generally when I want a read more

Oyakodon

Oyakodon

In the realm of Japanese cuisine, few dishes evoke the same sense of warmth and nostalgia as Oyakodon. Even its name, where the literal translation is parent and child rice bowl, conjures comfort. The parent and child actually refers to the juicy morsels of chicken read more

Beef Japchae

Beef Japchae

I don’t like to abuse the phrase “game changer”, but sometimes its use is warranted. And this Beef Japchae recipe is one of those times. Japchae is as ubiquitous in Korea as mac and cheese is in the states but it’s more versatile. Although it’s often a side dish served with Kalbi and Bulgogi, it’s also eaten as a snack at room temperature, served as street food as I had on my recent trip to Seoul, and picked up at grocery stores to make a quick meal on the go.

The noodles are made from sweet potato starch so they are gluten free, but they are a fun gluten free-meaning they are traditionally this way, not manipulated to be gluten free and ending up as a pale imitation. They have a delightfully springy texture and absorb sauces beautifully. Making Japchae noodles often involves boiling the noodles separately while stir frying the meat and other ingredients. Each ingredients gets stir fried individually and then the noodles are drained and added to the wok. I’ve also seen variations where everything is tossed together like a giant salad once the individual components are cooked.

Nothing wrong with that process, but it is a bit time consuming, requiring many steps, and the main reason why I made Japchae at home infrequently. Like everyone else, cooking time was a luxury during the week with everything else going on. But then I saw a different process years ago on one of my favorite food blogs, Maangchi, and tried it for myself when I developed my Mushroom Japchae recipe. And it works beautifully. This Beef Japchae is made by layering the noodles and veggies in a heavy pot, and cooking it on medium heat for 20 mins. It’s literally a “set it and forget it” scenario. Game Changer!

You need this (almost) one pot wonder filled with a tangle of noodles, veggies, and tender beef in your life, so let’s get into it.

ingredients for beef japchae

I start making Beef Japchae by soaking the sweet potato noodles. They need to soak about a half hour, until they are pliant. This gives me plenty of time to get everything else prepped and ready to go, starting with marinating the beef. I use a thinly shaved beef, like the kind you’d use for a Philly cheesesteak. I’ve been seeing this available more and more at grocery stores. You can of course slice the meat thinly yourself. Make sure to place the meat in the freezer for about an hour to make it easier. I like a marbled beef for better flavor and tender texture, like a rib eye but you can choose whatever is your favorite cut.

beef soy

 

marinated beef

I set the beef aside to marinate and get started prepping the veggies.

carrots japchae

onion red pepper beef

I cut the scallions into 2 inch lengths:

When all the vegetables are chopped, it is time to start layering everything in the pot. I cannot stress this enough, but the key to this dish is using a heavy bottom pot with a tight heavy lid. I used my dutch oven which has a 7 quart capacity. You can weigh the lid down with a large can or something else as needed. If your lid bounces around while the noodles cook, you may lose moisture too quickly, drying out the pan and leaving you with only partially cooked noodles.

noodles japchae

Now it’s time to mix the sauce ingredients and add them to the pot.

adding sauce japchae

While the noodles cook, it’s time to quickly stir fry the beef. Make sure the pan is good and hot before adding the oil so the beef doesn’t stick and will caramelize. Let it cook for a minute without touching it. Again this is to try and get some caramelization. Stirring it around immediately in a cool pan will give you soggy steamed meat.

I cook the meat separately because I like my beef caramelized with a touch of pink- soft and juicy. I know you’re asking yourself, why can’t I just add the beef on top of the noodles and call it a day? Are you not encouraging us to make lazy/smart Japchae? Oh wise one, you can and save yourself a step and some dishwashing. However, some steps are important and I would advise that this is one of them. Otherwise, the beef which will be steaming for about 10 minutes, will be grey and probably a little overcooked.

But if that’s not enough to dissuade you, then do yourself a favor and choose a tender, well marbled cut and take a couple minutes to separate the beef as best you can as you lay it on top of the uncooked noodles (if the beef cooks as a giant clump, you will not be able to separate it later). Then cover the pot with the lid and proceed with cooking the same way.

str fry beef

spinach japchae

I have tried this dish many times and several of my family and friends have also tried it with great results. The key is to use a heavy pot, like a dutch oven that has a tight heavy lid. Once 20 minutes are up, take off the lid and taste a noodle. It should be chewy and full cooked. If it still has a small core, replace the lid and cook for another 5 minutes, adding a couple tablespoons of water if the pan is dry. However, if the noodles are cooked after 20 minutes but you still see a lot of liquid in the pot, raise the heat to medium high for a couple minutes to cook off some of the excess liquid. This dish should not be overly saucy.

Once your Japchae is ready, transfer it to a platter and garnish with some toasted sesame seeds.

I hope you love this streamlined version of Beef Japchae! Please take a moment to rate and comment on the recipe and let me know what you think. And don’t forget to tag us in your glorious dinner pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!

If this Beef Japchae reminds you how much you love Korean food check out some of our other popular recipes like Watermelon Soju, Spicy Bean Sprouts, and Gochujang Meatloaf.

 

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Beef Japchae

  • Author: Funky Asian Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes + 30 minute soak
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: entrees
  • Cuisine: Korean

Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 ounces sweet potato noodles, soaked in water for 30 mins or until pliant
  • 1 large onion, trimmed, halved, and sliced thin 
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 pack shimeji mushrooms about 3.5 ounces (or 4 ounces of any other mushroom)
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (about 1.5 ounces)
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup neutral oil
  • 1 Tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

Marinated Beef:

  • ½ pound thin sliced beef (I used a philly steak-style sliced rib eye)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • A couple grinds/dashes ground black pepper

Sauce:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 6 cloves garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Marinate the beef:

  1. Place the beef, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, black pepper, and sesame oil into a bowl and mix the beef so that it is well coated.
  2. Set aside.

Make the sauce:

  1. Put all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl or cup and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Set aside.

Make the Japchae:

  1. Place the sliced onion, carrot, and bell pepper in the bottom of a large heavy bottom pot. Add the water and oil and toss so the vegetables are evenly coated. 
  2. Drain the noodles and cut them into manageable lengths (the length of spaghetti) with a pair of kitchen scissors. Place the noodles in an even layer over the vegetables. 
  3. Pour the sauce evenly over the noodles trying to cover as much of the noodles as possible.
  4. Cover the pot and set it on the stove. Turn the heat to medium and set the timer for 20 minutes. Let the noodles cook undisturbed while you cook the beef.
  5. Heat a medium pan over medium high heat for several minutes. Add the oil and swirl to cover the pan and add the beef in a thin layer.
  6. Cook the beef without touching it for 1 minute and then use chopsticks or tongs to stir fry it for another minute. It should still be a little red and undercooked.
  7. When 20 minutes have passed, remove the lid. Check that the noodles have cooked through. They should be chewy and bouncy but not unpleasantly firm or hard. (If the noodles taste undercooked, place the lid again and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of water if the pot looks dry.)
  8. There may still be some liquid in the pan. If there is, raise the heat to medium high and cook off some of the liquid as you stir the noodles to incorporate the vegetables.
  9. Taste again and adjust seasoning with a little soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, or pepper as needed.
  10. Add the beef and continue mixing for another minute. Add the sesame oil, scallions, and spinach and cook for another minute until they have wilted. 
  11. Transfer the noodles to a serving dish, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Notes

*Japchae is delicious hot, warm, or room temperature, which makes them great for a potluck or barbecue. You can refrigerate any leftovers for several days. Reheat on medium low for several minutes in a covered pan, stirring a couple times. Once the noodles are a clear color again, they are done. You can also reheat in a microwave on 50% power for 3-5 minutes. Heat in 1 minute bursts, stirring in between.

*Use gluten free soy sauce to make the dish fully gluten free.

*If you do not have the exact vegetables mentioned, you can substitute. Kale, snap peas, and zucchini all make good substituttions. Some vegetables, like mushrooms and zucchini are very water logged, so you may have a lot of water remaining in the pot after the noodles have finished cooking. Just raise the heat to medium high and cook it off for a couple minutes.

Keywords: beef japchae, korean, one pot, mushrooms