Last year, I worked at an English Hagwon, which is a Korean private study academy. Students here go to these academies after they’ve finished their regular school day. They take classes like English, Math, Science etc… anything to possibly get them a leg up on getting into their preferred Universities once they get to that age. Even though these are elementary students, the pressure for them to perform is already very much present. I now teach at a Public Highschool, but most of the students here don’t go to a Hagwon. That’s because they go to school from 7:50am to 10:00pm. No joke. Some do go to academies after this time- I’ve ran into my students at 10:30 pm on their way to a study hall, or science academy. It breaks my heart but I’ve realized it is not in my power or ability to make any kind of change to the system. I could go on about the pressure and stress of the overworked Korean student, however that is not my goal for today. Instead, I wanted to share a convenience food that I learned about from one of my co-teachers from the Hagwon last year: Korean bodybuilder chicken.
One of my Korean co-teachers was trying to lose weight and she was eating these “healthy” chicken sausage things. (She was of course a very thin Korean woman and definitely didn’t need to lose weight… but anyways) She would microwave them and eat them with mustard. But she didn’t usually finish them because she said they tasted awful. I was intrigued by the potential of other chicken items, and had to do some of my own research. I found that there were indeed more varieties- not only sausage but also pre-cooked chicken breast. That definitely appealed to me- how nice is it to have cooked chicken breast already packaged, seasoned and ready to go?
And the price is pretty good- for 26,900 won, you get 3 kg of precooked chicken breast, 15 individual packs of 200gram portions. And even though I can’t read the ingredient list- the fact that its very short and the first ingredient is chicken with 98.18% protein content- shows that its not a bad choice. Also, it shows the macro breakdown- 100g has 135 calories, 2 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat and 195mg of sodium. So really not bad at all!
They have different flavour varieties- this brand has 3 and judging by the red colour I would suspect one is kimchi-flavoured. I can’t speak on how these taste though, or how the nutrition content differs from the one I tried.
I know packaged food is never better than natural food, however there are definitely times where convenience food is really needed in our lives. We are overcome with a busy week and suddenly have no time to cook, we have to go out of town for a weekend and want something relatively healthy and portable and don’t have time to prepare our own food, or we are just looking for a change of flavour in our regular diet. Recently, I went away for a weekend retreat, and I decided to buy some of this chicken to take along. It really made such a difference in my stress levels by not having to worry about cooking, packaging, freezing etc it! That way, all I had to worry about were my healthy carbs, fats and vegetables to bring along.
But what about the taste? There’s no point in choosing something if it tastes like garbage right? Personally, I think it tastes great. However DO NOT OVER MICROWAVE THEM!!! They taste like rubber if you do that!!!!! Yes they are a little dry, but what chicken breast isn’t really? I like the somewhat smokey flavour, and it reminds me of natural chicken deli meat, which isn’t a bad comparison at all. I have included a quick recipe that I often go to, that could easily be used for any protein. Here is the link to the brand I bought. Of course, I used GMarket because it’s easy. They ship it to you in a styrofoam box with ice packs, so you don’t have to worry about it going bad.
Fit Chicken Salad
Pre-cooked chicken breast
Lemon zest and juice
Vinegar (I used Plum vinegar)
Basically just assemble! Sprinkle with your dressings and seasonings and that’s it! Easy!
I usually have something like this for lunch most days- and I just change up the protein source. But I almost always have a cucumber and other greens washed and ready to go. Obviously you could throw in whichever vegetables you have on hand, or substitute a different dressing, or add in some healthy carbs or fats.. Whatever you want!