13 (Fri) April 2012
Chicken Hayashi Rice
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with DJ and K twins
At long last, dear readers, the mystery of the brown sauce has been solved. In a very early post, I speculated about the origins of a dish known in Korea as “hai” or “hash” rice (see 1.078 Hai Rice Set). It turns out that my guesses were pretty close to being right. The sauce is indeed from Japan, where it’s referred to as “hayashi.” According to various sources, “hayashi” may either be derived from the name of the person who invented it or from the Japanese (mis)pronunciation of the English word “hash(ed).” It’s basically a demi-glace, with beef and onions and carrots and mushrooms, served over steamed rice. Several on-line recipes suggest that it can be made from scratch – a combination of red wine, stock/dashi, tomato paste, worcestershire, soy sauce, butter, flour, sugar – though more commonly made from roux blocks that just require the addition of water, plus the meat and veggies. In fact, the epiphany came while I was perusing the Japanese import section of the supermarket and saw a box of the stuff, which was labeled “hayashi” in English. The Korean-made products, which are stocked in an entirely different part of the store, are merely labeled “hash” (the “hai” is probably an abbreviation of “hayashi”) – hence the earlier confusion.
My first time working with hayashi, I did it exactly as I would a Japanese-style curry. I minced the onion, carrot, celery, and red paprika (bell pepper), so they’d eventually disintegrate into the sauce after a couple hours. For some reason, the paprika never fully breaks down and leaves flecks of red, which is nice, esthetically. Separately, I pan-grilled some chicken thighs, sliced them into strips, then added them to the sauce, along with all the fat in the pan, giving the sauce a smoky flavor. I also used chicken stock for further depth. Towards the end, I tossed in some shredded cabbage for contrasting texture. Ultimately, it was very similar to a curry in spirit but sweeter, softer, savory rather than spicy.
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