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By Way of Korea

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an epicurious New Yorker's journey around South Korea

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By Way of Korea: Dak-Hanmari, A Whole Chicken in a Tub of Broth (Jongno District, Seoul)

Updated: May 15, 2019

Come autumn or winter, dak-hanmari is a dish I wouldn't mind eating at least once a week.


There's a whole alley of dak-hanmari restaurants appropriately called "Dak-hanmari Alley" (닭한마리 골목), Jin Ok Hwa Halmae's Dak-hanmari is arguably the most famous one.


Dak-hanmari translates to “a whole chicken.” That is essentially what you get – a whole chicken sitting in a tub of broth with potato slices and chopped green onion (the large kind referred to as 'dae-pa' in Korean). A potato slice is usually savagely wedged into a slit cut horizontally across the chicken's torso. You're also provided with a dollop of minced garlic to add to the minimally seasoned broth (I like to throw in all of the garlic).

A woman arrived with our meal, raised the chicken just above the broth, and used a pair of scissors to cut it into pieces. While waiting for the broth to reach a fast boil to completely cook the chicken, I prepared my dipping sauce - red chili paste mixed with a bit of soy sauce, vinegar, and mustard. This is also the perfect time to get your kimchi (self-service).


The real treat of this meal follows after you finish the tender pieces of chicken; adding rice to the remaining broth and letting it simmer until the mixture reduces produces a savory jook (porridge). Rice is my preferred carb for this finale, but noodles and rice cakes are also available upon request.


Such a hearty meal warranted a deep nap, but we decided to grab coffee and hop on the next train to Jeonju.


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"If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel - as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them - wherever you go."

Anthony Bourdain's unmatched relish for adventure and humble approach to food, cultures, and humanity left an indelible impression on my younger self. Imparting on me the courage to veer into the unknown, he inspired me to embrace my vulnerabilities and seek adventures and growth beyond the comforts of home.

 

In July of 2017, I boarded a one-way flight to Seoul, South Korea. Within the first week of arrival, I signed a lease for an apartment and by the end of August, I had accepted a job offer that relocated me to Pyeongchang and Gangneung, where the Winter Olympics were soon to be held. From there, I had the rare opportunity to explore much of the greater Gangwon Province's beautiful mountainous and coastal regions and their distinctive foods. Once or twice a month, I'd return to Seoul or travel to an unfamiliar region to poke around alleyways, markets, and mountains in search of more good eats and adventures.

 

By Way of Korea is a storytelling project inspired by the food, places, and faces I encountered throughout Korea. By sharing my fondest memories, notes, and images of Korea, I simply hope to play a small part in piquing greater curiosity about Korean food and culture in my readers.  My content will heavily spotlight, but not be limited to Korean food and culture. 

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