If you’ve been following me for awhile, you may have noticed that specific meals are rarely mentioned in my posts. The reason for this is that my diet has been as basic as basic gets lately.
When it comes to food, I am sometimes a creature of habit, so I never thought it would be very interesting for you guys to hear me eat the same thing over and over and over again. And even though I don’t mind eating the same things, I don’t particularly find it fun to write about the same old stuff day in and day out. 😴
However, I finally have a treat to share with you: Korean BBQ Chicken, Fried Rice, and Gamja Jorim (Korean braised potatoes).
Yum. 😋 🇰🇷
For the record, I love to cook. It honestly doesn’t matter what it is either; as long as I’m in the kitchen whipping up a culinary creation, I am on cloud nine.
Unfortunately, I have not cooked many full meals since I started having to watch my weight. For one, I haven’t been shopping for food as much. Secondly, I often worry about the calories that are in my meals.
Cooking meals that require several ingredients per dish can be time consuming if you’re counting or just being mindful of calories, so I’ve stuck to extremely simple, low calorie meals as of late (think salad or plain grilled chicken breast). Even so, I decided to break things up the other day and try out a few new dishes.
I had never made chicken drumsticks before the other day (I greatly prefer white meat), so when I decided to try them out, it seemed as though they’d pair well with a new Korean BBQ seasoning I recently bought. Of course, I couldn’t just eat chicken, so I started dreaming up some awesome side dishes to accompany the drumsticks.
When it comes to food in general, one of my absolute favorite genres is Korean. Actually, I’m always down for Asian food period. It’s been just over a year since I started learning Korean (I still have a long way to go), but my interest in Korean culture was sparked much earlier. As a kid, I grew up having access to my aunt’s authentic Korean cooking, which has left me with a constant craving for more kimchi and bulgogi than I can usually get my hands on.
Since I’ve been dreaming of Korean food for the last few weeks, but have not yet found a great local restaurant to pick up my favorite dishes, I figured I’d try my hand at replicating them (with my own twist, of course). Here’s what I ended up with:
Korean BBQ Chicken Drumsticks
Before cooking off the chicken, I decided to try the McCormick Grill Mates Korean BBQ Marinade. When it comes to Korean marinades, I always use my aunt’s recipe. However, when I saw these handy little seasoning packets, I was excited to try them. After all, it’s always worth trying something new– especially if it can potentially save time.
To be honest, I didn’t particularly like the flavor of the marinade when I first mixed it up, but I decided to see the whole process through before passing judgment. Luckily, I had some leftover Bibigo Korean BBQ Sauce that I used once before and totally loved. If worst came to worst, I knew I could always add some of the sauce and redeem the chicken instantly.
- 12 chicken legs (skin on, bone in)
- 2 packets of McCormick Grill Mates Korean BBQ Marinade
- White Vinegar (per marinade’s directions)
- Water (per marinade’s directions)
- Vegetable oil (per marinade’s directions)
- 1/4 cup (approx) Bibigo Korean BBQ Sauce (for basting)
How It Was Made
- Mix the Grill Mates marinade according to the direction on the packet, place the chicken legs in a plastic bag, and pour the marinade mixture over the top.
- Securely close the bag and massage the chicken to evenly distribute the marinade. Place the bag in the fridge and allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes. (I marinated mine for about four hours)
- Once the chicken has marinated to your liking, set the oven to 425 degrees.
- Brown each drumstick on the stove or over a grill until the skin becomes crispy and golden brown or develops grill marks. Don’t forget to discard the marinade bag!
- Line a baking sheet or dish with foil (if you’d like), and evenly arrange the browned chicken across the sheet/dish. Spoon some of the bbq sauce over each drumstick. No cross-contamination, please. 😷
- Once the oven has reached the right temperature, cook the chicken for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes is up, baste your chicken with more bbq sauce. Continue to cook 5 to 15 minutes, to your liking.
Although this recipe is actually intended for full grilling, I didn’t have time to grill that day. This is why I grilled the chicken just long enough to get the pretty coloring before chucking it into the oven. It was a lot easier than manning the grill the entire time!
When it comes to chicken, I greatly prefer there to be no skin and no bone. However, I decided to leave the skin on to help preserve the moisture. It worked! The chicken was beyond moist.
Overall, I think the combination of the marinade and the sauce was a harmonious match. But did it taste authentic? No.
Instead of giving me obvious Korean vibes, it gave me sesame or teriyaki chicken vibes. It was still extremely good though and went really well with my side dishes. Even still, I’d really like to try this recipe with chicken breast in the future because drumsticks still aren’t my thing. Hey, at least I tried, right?
Vegetable Fried Rice
Although I have previously tried to make fried rice at home (many, many times), I’ve never ended up liking it that much. This isn’t to say that it ever tasted bad— it was still good. However, I could never seem to capture that authentic flavor that I’m accustomed to getting from my favorite restaurants. But you know what they say: If at first you don’t succeed, try again. So I did! 🍚 🥢
For this dish, I decided to try Sun-Bird Fried Rice Seasoning Mix. As much as I like to whip up my own seasonings and sauces from scratch, I can not get the flavor for fried rice down on my own. What stood out about this mix is that it’s MSG-free (take that, Chinese joint!). The packet also says “Authentic Asian Taste”.
Hmm. 🧐 I’ll be the judge of that.
- 1 packet Sun-Bird Fried Rice Seasoning Mix
- 3 cups cold, cooked white or brown rice (preferably a day or two old)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 beaten eggs (I used three)
- 1 cup thawed, frozen peas and carrots (I used a mix of peas, carrots, and broccoli– don’t judge lol)
- 3 green onion stalks (I used 1/2 of a small white onion because I love onion)
- Optional: 1/3 cup of cooked meat of your choice (I went strictly veggie this time)
How It Was Made
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok on medium to medium-high heat. Stir fry the rice and and onions until well warmed. Keep mixing to prevent sticking.
- Once the rice is warm, add the soy sauce and seasoning packet contents. Stir well and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Pushing the rice against the sides of your skillet/wok, add your beaten eggs to the middle and scramble them until cooked to your liking. Once cooked, evenly fold the eggs into the rice.
- Add your vegetables and keep stirring until everything is throughly heated.
I’m not going to lie– I was scared to taste this. For as much as I cook, fried rice has always been a thorn in my side; the one dish I simply couldn’t get straight. Did I have confidence that a tiny packet of “authentic asian seasonings” could finally solve my fried rice woes? Heck no. There were so many things “wrong” with this dish that I anticipated a flavorful, but inaccurate failure like my previous attempts.
For one, I didn’t have green onion, I only had white. I didn’t have peas and carrots, I had peas, carrots AND broccoli. Broccoli in fried rice?!? Yikes. Plus, my sticky rice had been freshly prepared that morning. Even though I had rinsed it 1.5 million times before cooking it, it was still, well… quite sticky. Rice that is at least a day old has had time to dry out and separate a bit, giving it the ideal texture for fried rice.
I must admit, the rice was more moist than it should have been, but it was still delicious. Sun Bird for the win! Now I know what to use to make my fried rice taste right. And that broccoli was seriously a nice addition; I dare you to try it sometime. Besides, extra vegetables are good for you! 🥦
Gamja Jorim (Braised Potatoes)
My very first experience with gamja jorim was at a Korean restaurant. I had ordered a plate of bulgogi and rice (my favorite), but was surprised to arrive home and see that I’d also been given a container of slightly browned, cubes of… something. At the time, I had no idea what it was. Spoiler: It was potato.
Popping one of the curious cubes into my mouth, I discovered that it was not only potato… but uncommonly good potato. Though I have never been the biggest fan of white potatoes, I must have scarfed the entire portion down in mere seconds. From that point forward, I was totally hooked!
Gamja Jorim is one of many banchan, or small Korean side dishes. It may be served alongside other banchan such as kimchi, as an accompaniment to rice and main dishes. Traditionally speaking, it’s usually not eaten in large amounts, but in smaller bites. To me, it’s between a condiment and an appetizer; there’s just enough to get a good taste, but not necessarily enough to get full off of.
This is why I prefer to just make it at home– there are no rules! 😂
Although this is not the recipe I typically use (I was out of nearly everything I needed), this was hands down better than any of the gamja jorim dishes I’ve had– anywhere. But even though my substitutions ended up being really good, I’m going to list the proper ingredients for a few things that I would recommend leaving as they should be.
- 4 white potatoes, peeled, cubed, and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons fresh garlic (You could also use garlic powder to taste. In my case, I was out of both, so I had to resort to garlic salt)
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce (I highly recommend one that has sesame seeds in it)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1-1/2 tablespoons raw, unfiltered honey
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (coconut, vegetable, olive, etc– your choice)
- A few splashes of soy sauce
How It Was Made
- Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet (cast iron is highly recommended) on low to medium heat.
- Once the skillet is nice and hot, add the potatoes and cook them until they start to become translucent. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- Once the potatoes become translucent, add in garlic and onions. Mix well. Continue to cook everything for about 3-5 minutes. The potatoes should still be quite firm at this point, but starting to soften.
- While you wait for the potatoes to soften further, grab a bowl and combine the water, honey, sugar and teriyaki sauce. Stir well until all of the ingredients have incorporated.
- Pour the mixture over the potatoes and increase the heat to medium.
- Stirring frequently, allow the potatoes to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. At this stage, the potatoes need to become tender, yet firm enough to maintain their shape. The liquid should cook down to a light syrup/glaze.
- Once your potatoes are close to being done, give them a few splashes of soy sauce and mix well. Finish cooking until perfectly soft and remove from heat.
These potatoes blew my mind, you guys. I’m telling you, try these. 🤯
Despite all of my adjustments and substitutions, this was my favorite dish of the night. For being so simple and so easy, it truly added something special to the meal. The coloring and glaze came out perfectly thanks to the teriyaki and honey (neither of which are traditional ingredients). The flavor was bang on and tasted exactly like the gamja jorim I first tried (only I think I may like my version a bit better–no bias lol).
Funny story: Halfway through cooking the chicken, I realized that I had an insatiable craving for kimchi. I mean, how could I have Korean BBQ chicken, fried rice, and gamja jorim, but not have any kimchi?? 🤔 It simply couldn’t go down like that. LOL.
The only place I knew to get kimchi in-store was Whole Foods, but who had time to get in the car and hunt down kimchi while cooking? Not me, that’s who. That’s why I turned to Amazon Prime Now and ordered a jar of Mother In Law’s Kimchi (the House Napa Cabbage variety).
I first learned about Mother In Law’s Kimchi about two or three years ago, when my persistent lust for kimchi became entirely too much to bare. Then living in the Midwest, I had a very hard time finding large amounts authentic kimchi (the local Korean restaurant was notoriously stingy with the kimchi like it was gold 😂), so I turned to the Internet.
Although I had been tempted to order a few jars of Mother In Law’s Kimchi to ship directly to my door, I never did. However, I finally got to try it the other night and… it’s flippin’ AWESOME. Maybe it’s not as good as my aunt’s (after all, it’s still in a jar from the grocery store), but all things considered, Mother In Law’s Kimchi is bae. 😍
Kimchi aside, did I mention that my entire plate (1 drumstick, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup gamja jorim, and one serving of kimchi was around 300 calories? Yes, 300*. The entire thing. Considering that this was the only meal I had that day, this wasn’t just dinner, it was a really yummy miracle. 🙌
Anyhow, I really hope you had fun taking a look at one of my meals. It was certainly fun sharing with you guys. Should I do more healthy meal posts like these if I get back to cooking more? Let me know by giving this post a ‘like’ or by dropping me a message down below. ‘Til tomorrow! 🙂
*If you remove the skin from the chicken, as I did.
Yesterday’s Workout: 1 hour. Cardio (Treadmill: 2% and 7% incline) 2.04 miles. 357 calories burned.
Today was Day 41.
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