Because of my frequent trips to the local farmers’ market this summer, I have been making bokkeum dishes quite often. Bokkeum refers to Korean dishes that are stir-fried or sauteed in a sauce. Variations of main dishes and side dishes prepared in bokkeum style are infinite. Here, the ginger marinated chicken (dak) pieces and summer fresh vegetables (yachae) are simply stir-fried in a little bit of oil infused with aromatics. The sauce is light yet rich in flavor. This dish is so versatile that you can practically use any meat, seafood or vegetable of your liking. Adjust cooking time depending on the ingredients. Remember to add the vegetables that need more cooking time first. The actual stir-frying process goes very quickly, so prepare all of the ingredients and sauce before you begin cooking. The result will be a perfectly satisfying one-dish meal.
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 8 oz)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon rice wine (mirin)
1 teaspoon salt and pinch pepper
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 small Asian eggplant
1 small green zucchini
1 small yellow zucchini
1 red chili pepper (or 1/2 red bell pepper)
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
4 garlic cloves, julienned
1 thumb-size ginger piece, julienned
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (or just use 1 more tablespoon soy sauce)
2 tablespoons rice wine (or mirin)
2 tablespoons water (or chicken or vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil for stir-frying, divided
Cut the chicken into thin bite size pieces against the grain (about 1/4-inch thick). Season with salt and pepper and mix with the grated ginger, rice wine, and corn starch. Let it marinate while preparing vegetables.
Cut the vegetables into 2-inch long bite size pieces. (The eggplant and zucchinis can be cut lengthwise in halves or quarters depending on the thickness. Then cut crosswise into about 2-inch pieces.)
Combine the sauce ingredients, except the sesame seeds and sesame oil, and set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of the canola or vegetable oil. Add the chicken pieces in one layer and cook until they are longer pink, about 2 minutes. (The chicken does not need to be cooked through at this point.) Transfer to a plate.
Reheat the skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of the oil. Stir in the aromatics and cook just enough to infuse the oil with flavor (about 10 seconds). Add the vegetables and stir-fry until softened but still crisp. Push the vegetables to the sides of the skillet and stir in the sauce in the middle. Turn the heat up high. Return the chicken to the skillet. Stir-fry everything together for one or two minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is well incorporated. Add the sesame oil and seeds at the end.
Serve hot with a bowl of rice.