How to Make a Korean Soy-Sauce Marinade and Use It 3 Ways

Kāwi chef Eunjo Park joins us on this week’s episode of Chefs at Home.

For an audio described version of this video, click here.

Last year, Eunjo Park, executive chef at Kāwi, was named one of our 2020 Best New Chefs; this week, she joins us on Chefs at Home to share three recipes that can be made with a Korean soy-sauce marinade. With a quick whizz in the blender, you've got a marinade that can be used to infuse skirt steak, flavor a spicy chicken stew, and more. Read on for Park's step-by-step method and follow along with the video above.

First: Make the Marinade

The marinade Park makes is super simple, and only requires a few ingredients: pineapple (you can use fresh or frozen), onion, garlic, ginger, and some soy sauce. Combine it all in a blender, taking care not to over-blend. Then, pour it in a bowl and stir in brown sugar, toasted sesame oil, and black pepper, followed by the remaining soy sauce and some corn syrup for sweetness and body. Mix it up and refrigerate until you're ready to use.

Spicy Chicken Stew

Park starts out by making a spicy chicken stew. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and heat oil in a cast-iron pan. Take your chicken pieces and sear them, and then add chicken stock, the soy-sauce marinade, ginger, gochugaru (Korean chile flakes), and gochujang (Korean fermented chile paste) to the pan.

As the mixture comes to a full boil, Park skims a layer off the top of the stew, places a lid on the pan, and lets it cook in the oven for an hour. Then, once the chicken is cooked, the pan goes back onto the stove and it's time to add in the vegetables—chopped sweet potato, carrots, and onions. You want to cook until the liquid reduces, and then, cover the pan once more to finish cooking the vegetables. When it's ready to eat, grab scallions and sesame seeds for garnish.

Stir-Fried Rice Cakes

This next dish is a variation on Gungjung Tteokbokki, or Royal Rice Cakes. She takes defrosted glutinous rice cakes, cut into bite-sized pieces, and pan-fries them in oil on the stovetop. She recommends pan-frying as opposed to deep-frying, as submerging them entirely in oil will make them pop. Be sure to leave a little space between the rice cakes, too, so they don't stick together. Cook until they're toasted and crispy on all sides.

At this point, remove them from the pan and drain off all except one tablespoon of the oil. Then, add the vegetables and quickly saute them on high heat. In the video, Park uses king trumpet mushrooms, shishito pepper, and garlic, but she says you can feel free to switch them up. When the mixture becomes fragrant, onions and scallions go in, and then, Park adds the rice cakes back in as well. Next, she de-glazes the pan with some mirin, noting that it's an optional step. Once you don't hear sizzling anymore, pour in the soy marinade and honey, along with a pinch of black pepper. Toss to coat the rice cakes with the sauce, and then, you're ready to eat.

Marinated Skirt Steak

Start by submerging the steak in the marinade and letting it sit for three to eight hours—take care not to leave it in too long, or else the enzymes in the pineapple will break down the meat too much. Then, after bringing it to room temperature, you're ready to cook. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan (Park doesn't have a grill, so she uses a cast-iron pan in the video instead), and add the steak once smoke starts to rise. She notes that since skirt steak is thin, you want high heat to quickly brown it without overcooking the inside.

Cook the meat on both sides, flipping constantly, and then slice and serve. Park makes a ssam (wrap) with lettuce, pickles, sliced raw garlic, jalapeño, and ssamjang, a sauce for ssam made from doenjang, Korean fermented soybean paste, mixed with gochujang.

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