Dinakdakan (pronounced “deen-a-kda-kan”) is a traditional Korean dish that has been popular since ancient times.
It’s most commonly served at special occasions such as weddings or birthdays.
The name comes from its main ingredient — pigs’ lungs and ears.
While this may sound gross, they are actually very mild tasting when cooked properly.
The dish can be prepared with any type of meat but is typically made using pork because it contains more collagen than beef.
The dish was originally developed by people who lived off hunting and fishing so they could use every part of their animals to create delicious meals.
What Are The Ingredients Of Dinakdakan?
The original recipe for dinakdakan called for only five ingredients: ground pork, fermented soy sauce, rice wine, black pepper, and garlic.
However, today dinakdakan recipes often include many other spices and ingredients.
Some common additions include sesame oil, ginger, onion, mushrooms, green onions, radishes, and scallions.
- Ground pork — This is an essential component of dinakdakan. Pork provides the protein needed to bind all the ingredients together into one tasty meal. Ground pork also adds flavor and texture while not being too fatty. Most restaurants will grind up their own fresh pork rather than buy preground pork. If you want to try making your own, see our guide on how to roast a whole hog.
- Fermented soy sauce — Fermented soy sauces have long been used to enhance food flavors. They add umami (savory), which is a taste sensation that some find appealing. There are two types of fermented soy sauce available to purchase online: red and white.
- Rice wine — Rice wine is another important flavoring agent in dinakdakan. Made from steamed glutinous rice, it imparts a sweet aroma and makes the dish go down smoothly. Look for brands like Kikkoman or Chibori brand rice wines.
- Black pepper — Black pepper brings out the savoriness of the dish without overpowering the others. You can use either freshly cracked black peppercorns or powdered black pepper. Both methods work well.
- Garlic — Garlic is a classic spice for dishes because it enhances the overall flavor profile. In addition to adding savory notes, garlic also helps to break down proteins, helping them absorb the other ingredients better.
- Soybean paste — Soybean pastes are thickened versions of regular soy sauce. Unlike regular soy sauce, these contain added sugar, salt, and starch. When mixed with water, they form a thicker consistency that doesn’t separate easily.
- Onion — Onions contribute both sweetness and acidity to the dish. Their pungent smell helps to mask the stronger smells of the other ingredients. Try different varieties including yellow, white, red, and purple ones.
- Mushrooms — Mushrooms provide a delicate earthy flavor and help thicken the soup. Different kinds of mushrooms also vary in color, shape, size, and firmness. Choose those with rich colors and textures such as shiitake, oyster, portobello, enoki, button, maitake, porcini, and king oyster.
- Green onions — Green onions are a staple ingredient in Asian cooking. Not only does their crisp texture complement many dishes, but their strong flavor gives the diner a little kick. Use as much as you need depending on the amount of dinakdakan you plan on eating.
- Radish — Radishes add a subtle crunch to the dish and bring out the natural sugars in onions and mushrooms. Chopped radish seeds are sometimes sprinkled over dinakdakan before serving.
- Scallion/spring onion — Scallions are similar to green onions except they are longer and thinner. Like green onions, scallions add a pleasant pop of flavor to almost anything.
Step 1. Clean the ingredients
First thing’s first—clean everything! Rinse all ingredients under cold running water until no trace of dirt remains.
Dry them thoroughly with paper towels.
Step 2. Cut up the ingredients
Next, cut up all the ingredients according to the recipe instructions.
For example, if the recipe calls for ground pork pieces, chop the pork into bite sized chunks.
Make sure to keep the fat attached to the meat so it won’t burn during frying.
Step 3. Mix the ingredients
Once you’ve got all the ingredients ready, mix them in a bowl.
You’ll notice that there’s quite a bit of liquid in the mixture already.
That’s okay, though, because it’s what makes dinakdakan so flavorful.
Step 4. Fry the ingredients
Now it’s time to fry the ingredients.
First, put enough oil in a pan to cover about half the surface area.
Heat the oil over medium heat.
Once hot, place in the sliced vegetables.
Cook for 5 minutes per side or until just slightly browned.
Remove and set aside.
Next, add the ground pork and stir with a wooden spoon.
Continue stirring until the pork starts to turn golden brown.
Add the remaining ingredients and continue to stir constantly until the contents come to a boil.
Lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and serve immediately.
How Do You Make Dinakdakan?
The first step for making dinakdakan involves cutting up your chosen animal into small pieces.
Next, wash them thoroughly under running water before soaking them for about one hour in saltwater.
After rinsing, drain the meats well and pat dry with paper towels.
To prepare dinakdakan, heat some oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Once hot, add half of the soaked meats to the pot along with 1 tablespoon of white soy sauce, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 6 dried red chilies, and 3 tablespoons of rice wine.
Cook until the meat turns brown, then transfer all the contents to an airtight container.
Next, take out the remaining meat and repeat steps two through four.
Assemble the final product by placing the sliced lung, ear, and brain tissue on top of each other in a single layer.
Pour enough vinegar over these ingredients to cover them completely.
Make sure there’s plenty of space between each item so that they cook evenly.
Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and seal tightly.
Place the sealed package in a warm place overnight.
When ready to eat, remove the lid and let everything cool down before serving.
If you have leftover dinakdakan, store it in the fridge for three days.
To reheat, toss the leftovers in a pan with fresh water.
Bring to a boil and simmer until heated through.
What Is The Origin Of Dinakdakan?
According to legend, dinakdakan originated around 2,000 years ago during the reign of King Taejo of Joseon Dynasty.
During his reign, he encouraged his subjects to hunt wild boars for food.
In order to encourage others to participate, he offered a reward if anyone brought him back an entire lung.
This practice continued until one day, a man came across a beautiful young woman while on a hunting trip.
He asked her to marry him, which she accepted.
After many months of marriage, however, she refused to consummate the relationship.
Her husband eventually became frustrated and gave up on finding another wife altogether.
At this point, the king realized what had happened and decided to offer a second chance to the rejected suitor.
But instead of offering him a new bride, he ordered his cooks to prepare a meal of dinakdakan for the two of them.
As soon as she tasted the dish, the young woman agreed to move forward with the wedding ceremony.
From then on, dinakdakan became associated with love and romance.
The dish is still considered a symbol of good luck today.
What Are The Variations Of Dinakdakan?
Many regional dishes have similar names and ingredients, which means dinakdakan recipes vary depending on where you live.
For example, dinakdakan might also refer to a stew made out of cow intestines or dog meat, called chaejangguk (or chajang).
Some other variants include:
- Dinakdakan-ssam (Korean rice porridge)
- Nakdaguk (noodles with minced fish sauce)
- Gukchae (mung bean sprouts stir fry)
How to make dinakdakan
For an authentic version of dinakdakan, you will need to follow these steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before cutting up the lungs and ears.
- Cut each piece of lung into small pieces about 1/4 inch wide.
- Slice each ear into thin strips.
- Heat some cooking oil over high heat.
- Add all the sliced meats and mix well until evenly coated.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the mixture for five minutes.
- Add the red pepper paste and mix again.
- Cook the mixture for another 15 minutes.
- Serve hot!
What Are The Common Toppings For Dinakdakan?
There aren’t many ingredients used in dinakdakan, which makes it easy to prepare.
This means you can easily customize your dinakdakan order depending on what you like.
Here are some of the most popular options.
- Pork Lungs & Ears – These contain less fat than other meats and are often cut into bite sized pieces before cooking. They’re also high in protein, iron, vitamin B12, and zinc while being low in calories.
- Raw Garlic – Raw garlic adds flavor and helps make the dish more savory. You can either chop up fresh garlic in advance and add them during cooking time, or buy pre-chopped garlic.
- Sesame Oil – Sesame oil gives dinakdakan a rich taste without adding too much fat. Use regular sesame oil instead of light if you don’t want to use extra fats.
- Kimchi – Kimchi is a spicy fermented vegetable condiment that adds tanginess and spice to dinakdakan. If you have kimchi left over from another meal, try mixing it into dinakdakan!
How Long Does It Take To Cook Dinakdakan?
You can make dinakdakan in less than an hour if you have all your ingredients prepped ahead of time.
But, even though the preparation takes little effort, the cooking itself is quite involved.
You need to slow roast the lungs and ears until they become tender before removing them from the pot and slicing them into bite size pieces.
If you don’t want to go through all the trouble yourself, you can purchase ready-made dinakdakan from Asian grocery stores or online retailers.
Some restaurants also offer dinakdakan as a side dish on their menus.
If you decide to order dinakdakan from one of these establishments, expect to pay around $10-$15 per serving.
What Is The Best Way To Eat Dinakdakan?
There are many ways you can prepare dinakdakan depending on your preference for flavor.
You can choose between dry, which uses only the lung and ear meats, or wet, which also includes other parts like stomach, intestines, heart, liver, tongue, etc.
Dry versions can either be sliced into bite size pieces or ground up into a paste while wet versions tend to have smaller pieces.
You can make both types of dinakdakan spicy or not.
If you want something milder then just add less hot pepper flakes or red pepper powder to the mixture.
But if you prefer a little spice, try adding some freshly crushed red chile peppers along with the other ingredients.
To get all the flavors together, mix all the ingredients well before starting to heat them.
Then place them over medium heat until everything starts sizzling around the edges.
Once the liquid starts boiling, lower the heat and let simmer for about one hour.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Dinakdakan?
While there aren’t many studies on the exact benefits of dinakdakan itself, there have been plenty of research on how eating certain types of foods impacts your overall health.
One study found that consuming high amounts of red meat increases your risk for heart disease and cancer.
However, if you eat lean cuts of red meat like chicken thighs instead of fatty ones like ribeye steaks, you lower your odds of suffering from these diseases.
According to one survey, most Koreans consume about 25 grams of protein per day which isn’t too different from what Americans usually get from their diet.
But while we tend to think of protein as something we need to supplement our diets with, some experts suggest that it may not be necessary to add much extra protein into your daily routine.
For example, one study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that adding just 1 gram of additional protein a day to your already healthy diet will improve your body composition without having any negative impact on blood sugar levels.
Eating more protein also improves muscle repair after exercise.
If you want to know more about how to put together an optimal meal plan for yourself, check out my guide here!
What Are The Side Effects Of Dinakdakan?
While dinakdakan is traditionally eaten on special occasions like weddings or birthdays, many families enjoy eating it regularly throughout the year for celebratory dinners.
The dishes are often accompanied by rice wine called makgeolli which has an alcohol content ranging between 10% and 20%.
This isn’t recommended if you have food allergies or sensitivities.
However, these factors aren’t enough to discourage some Koreans from enjoying dinakdakan.
In fact, there are several reports of dinakdakan being used as a cure for cancer.
If you want to find out how to prepare dinakdakan, we’ve got all the information you need right here! Keep reading to learn about the health benefits of dinakdakan.
Possible health benefits of dinakdakan
It’s no secret that consuming too much red meat can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
However, dinakdakan doesn’t fall into that category.
This is primarily due to the way the dish is prepared.
Typically, dinakdakan is made with lean cuts of meat.
For example, the pork lungs and ears will be cut into small pieces before they go into the pot.
This prevents them from cooking quickly, allowing for the flavors of the vegetables and spices to come through instead of becoming overly charred.
Additionally, dinakdakan uses plenty of flavorings to enhance the overall taste.
These include salt, pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, onion, green onions, and mushrooms.
All of these ingredients help prevent dinakdakan from having high levels of fat and cholesterol.
That means your body won’t feel bloated after eating it.
This unique combination also helps reduce the amount of sodium in dinakdakan.
Sodium is known to promote water retention, leading to bloatiness.
By lowering the sodium level in dinakdakan, your body will absorb less fluid while digesting it.
Finally, dinakdakan is low in calories and carbs.
Because of this, it’s perfect for those who struggle with weight loss.
How to cook dinakdakan
There are two methods you can choose from when making dinakdakan.
You can either boil the dish until all the liquids evaporate, or you can simmer it for hours.
Both options produce tasty results.
If you decide to boil dinakdakan, simply place everything into a large bowl or pan, add cold water, then bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium heat.
Once the water boils, cover the pot and let the mixture simmer for three hours.
After this time, remove the lid and turn down the heat to a simmer.
Let the pot sit covered for another 30 minutes.
Then, strain the liquid and discard the bones.
To make dinakdakan using the second method, place all the ingredients into a stockpot.
Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer for four hours.
Remove the lid during the last hour of cooking and stir occasionally.
When finished, strain the liquid and serve immediately.
Both versions of dinakdakan are delicious regardless of how you prepare it.
They are both considered a delicacy among the Korean population.
However, if you’re looking for other recipes to try, keep reading below.
Before you start cooking your own dinakdakan though, there is one important thing to know about the ingredients.
In Korea, dinakd means “to eat all parts of an animal.” So while the lungs and ears are considered the main components of the dish, other parts like tails, hooves, intestines, and snouts also play an integral role in making the food taste good.
There are many ways to prepare dinakdakan depending on what region of Korea you live in.
Some versions include only lungs and ears while others add everything except for the head.
However, no matter how it’s prepared, dinakdakan must always contain some form of blood or gelatinous substance.
This ensures that it stays soft after being boiled or simmered.
In addition to the lungs and ears, dinakdakan often includes onions, carrots, cabbage, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, sugar, rice wine, and sometimes even anchovies.
Other recipes call for adding kimchi or ginseng to give dinakdakan extra flavor and kick.
While dinakdakan originated in Korea, it’s now extremely popular across Asia.
Here are five reasons why dinakdakan is worth trying out!
It’s easy to make
Since dinakdakan doesn’t require much preparation before serving, it makes a great dish if you’re pressed for time.
All you have to do is boil the lungs and ears until tender then remove them from the pot and set aside.
You can either chop up the organs into bite sized pieces and serve them raw or cook them further once they have cooled down.
Both methods work just fine.
You don’t need a lot of ingredients
Since dinakdakan requires minimal ingredients, you won’t have to spend hours chopping vegetables and preparing sauces.
Most recipes simply list the lung and ear meats along with whatever else you might want to add.
It goes well with alcohol
If you drink alcohol, dinakdakan will go perfectly with it.
Because it tastes similar to liver, dinakdakan pairs nicely with red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you prefer beer instead of liquor, try pairing it with Kombucha.
It helps prevent colds
Did you know that eating certain foods can boost your immune system and help keep you healthy throughout the winter months? Dinakdakan is one of those foods.
Since it contains lots of vitamin A, B1, C, E, zinc, iron, magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese, and phosphorus, it can increase your body’s resistance against viruses, bacteria, and germs.
It helps fight cancer
According to a study published in Cancer Research in 2008, women who ate dinakdakan regularly had lower rates of breast cancer.
The researchers concluded that dinakdakan prevents cells from growing abnormally by reducing levels of estrogen in the body and increasing levels of testosterone.
- 1/2 kilo pig ears snout
- 1/2 kilo pork
- 1 thumb ginger
- 4 medium onion
- 3 pcs siling labuyo
- 1/4 cup calamansi juice
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp. peppercorn
- 3 pcs. bay leaf
- ground pepper
- Cook the pork chunks in salted water until they are tender.
- When cooked, remove from water and reserve.
- Grill the various meats in the meantime until they are tender but not crunchy.
- Slice various meats into long or wide pieces (bite size)
- Combine the various meats and the pork cubes in a bowl.
- Add the minced garlic, onion, mayonnaise, and calamansi or lemon juice (or mashed brain, if you have the dish to be traditional).
- Add more chopped chilies to your Dinakdakan to make it spicier.
- To suit personal preference, adjust the components.
- Mix well.