For my second Korean fusion dish, I made Korean Chicken Salad. It’s chicken salad using several very distinct Korean elements.
Interesting fact: Chicken Salad was first prepared in its American form in Rhode Island 1863. And I had always just assumed it was Southern…
The first Korean element I used are Perilla leaves, also known as sesame leaves. Perilla leaves are called ggaennip (sounds similar to cat nip) in Korean. In Korea, they are often seasoned with pepper & oil & served as a side dish. More often than that, they are used fresh for wrapping roasted & grilled meats during a Korean BBQ meal. These leaves have a fresh minty-apple taste. You can make this dish without them, but you will be missing out on a refreshing & especially delicious taste.
For this recipe, you will need about a dozen Perilla leaves divided. Set aside 4 for using in the salad. Those 4 leaves will be sautéed with oil & black pepper until just wilted. Then cut into tiny pieces & tossed in with the salad. The remaining leaves will be used for wrapping the salad, Korean BBQ style, as pictured above.
Another Korean element to this dish are jujubes. These are called Daechu in Korean but are also known as red dates or Korean dates. In Korea jujubes can be used to make a sweetened syrup for tea, sweetened vinegar for pickling, jujube juice & even jujube wine. However, it is most often used in Samgyetang, whole chicken & ginseng soup. Samgyetang is traditionally eaten on the hottest days in summer to cool down. The chicken is stuffed with dried jujubes & poached. Maybe I can learn to make that later and share it on here!
For this recipe, I used dried jujubes in place of grapes. However, the taste & texture is not at all similar to the green, seedless grapes I’m used to eating in chicken salad. The outer skin is a bit rough & leathery. Inside it has a pit & the actual meat of the jujube is a similar texture to a boiled chestnut. It tastes like a date so it is more of a savory taste, less sweet. Since I was using dried jujubes, I placed them in with the chicken breasts while they were poaching. Try to weigh them down with the chicken so they are completely submerged. They will probably find their way floating on the top but as long as they are in the boiling water, they should recover their juiciness. Also, I should mention once more, there is a pit inside! Please don’t break your teeth using my recipe! I would never forgive myself!
I think I’ve mentioned our itsy bitsy Korean style apartment before. Here is the first picture to give you insight into our tiny space.
This is how we eat: on a pillow on the floor, using chopsticks & a small, collapsible coffee table as our dinner table. But if that sounds too charming, let me be perfectly honest. We never eat like that. We eat at the desk I use as a kitchen counter or on the couch, using forks. Sitting on the floor is painful & in 3 years living in Asia, I’ve never grown used to it. I will be completely honest about our other dining out rule. If it requires sitting on the floor, we run. We absolutely avoid it at all costs. I’m serious y’all. I never got used to it and it is painful.
Enjoy this recipe and if you can, try eating it while sitting on the floor.
- 5-6 Chicken Breasts
- 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
- 10 Jujubes
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1/2 Cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon ground mustard
- 1 Tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 dozen Perilla Leaves, divided
Place chicken breasts, jujubes, bay leaves & bouillon cubes in a pot. Fill with water until the chicken is just covered. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot & poach for 10-14 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165°F.
Remove chicken from pot & place on a hard surface like a plate or cutting board. Finely shred the chicken using to forks. Season with salt & 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.
Next, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard & ginger together.
Now, heat a skillet & add about 1 teaspoon of canola or olive oil. Sauté 4 of the perilla leaves until slightly wilted. Season with remaining black pepper & cut into small pieces.
Toss chicken with the mayonnaise mixture until thoroughly coated. Add sauteed perilla leaves & jujubes and toss once more. Use remaining perilla leaves as wraps when eating the chicken salad.
Can be made ahead of time & chilled. Keeps for 3-5 days.
Metric Kitchens: Internal temperature of the chicken should be 73°C.