Friday, February 22, 2013

Pumpin' up the Panchan

If Korean food had the status of Japanese food in the mid 1980s it would’ve been called Nouvelle Panchan. Nouvelle cuisine philosophy dictated that small portions of intensely flavored food were artfully plated and serve as the main meal. In Korea this is referred to as “panchan” (or “banchan”): savory and sweet Korean side dishes. The difference is that many plates of panchan accompany the main meal: braised beef, bean spouts, roasted fish, soups and especially the many varieties of kimchee.

This is my Twice-fried Korean chicken from last night’s dinner. Why twice fry anything? When done correctly it makes food incredibly crisp and crunchy: French fries, vegetables, taters tots... chicken, etc. After dredging in starch, fry briefly (five minutes) and then set aside to drain and cool for 10 minutes. This steams the food and sets up the crust. The crust might seem a bit gooey and under-done, but the second frying creates a deep golden crust that stays crisp even at room temperature. I think the only thing I wouldn’t fry twice is bacon.

Although artfully presented, would I call “Still life with cold twice-fried Korean chicken and rice ball on kimchee” art? I just call this leftovers. It’s pretty enough (pretty tasty) and I wish there was more.

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