Korean cuisine has long been disregarded in the U.S. and is now getting recognition thanks to David Chang and Roy Choi. Kimchi and gochujang are becoming pantry staples much like sriracha and hummus, but can still be hard to find at your local grocer. Luckily, us El Pasoans have had Korean delicacies within reach for decades thanks to our sizable Korean community that’s birthed restaurants and markets in northeast El Paso.
For communities that don’t have access to Korean restaurants or markets, you definitely need to get Korean Home Cooking by Sohui Kim so that you can taste what you’ve been missing. You may need to order ingredients online, but it will be worth it! The format has everything I look for in a cookbook, which is a pictorial glossary of ingredients, descriptions before each recipe, and plenty of pictures. Some recipes have step-by-step pictures, which makes this sometimes daunting cuisine more accessible. My only request would be a better index, but that may just be the librarian talking.
One reason I have yet to visit one of our local Korean restaurants is the uncertainty of vegetarian options, and this book confirms my hesitance. Fortunately, Chef Sohui provides a vegetarian alternative for replacing the seafood or fish sauce in Baechu Kimchi, but I have yet to make it. I really wanted to make Kongjang (Soy-braised black soybeans), but thought twice when I saw how pricey black soybeans are at Arirang.
Instead, I chose to make one classic and one modern recipe. I’ve always been curious about the rice cakes I’ve seen in the refrigerated section of Arirang Market, so I decided to make Tteokbokki. I can’t really describe the texture of the rice cakes, except that these tubular sticks are ultimate comfort food. Biting into these toothsome, chewy rice cakes was like getting the coziest hug. I can see why Tteokbokki is so special. Be prepared to eat these in one sitting because they do not reheat well and also they’re addicting. It’s best to make them for a crowd or make only enough for a single serving.
The other recipe I made was the roasted sweet potatoes, which are not traditional banchan since there is little roasting in Korean cooking, white sweet potatoes are usually used, and pickled jalapenos are borrowed from Mexico. The roasted sweet potatoes make a great salad topper and really develop flavor sitting in the fridge overnight, even though she notes that they taste best at room temp the day they are made.
Korean Home Cooking is an essential to any cookbook collection, and has me seeking out Sohui Kim’s first book, The Good Fork Cookbook.
Tteokbokki – Sauteed Rice Cakes
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) gochujang
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 pound (450 g) frozen or fresh rice cakes*
- 1 bunch scallions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (see page 14), white and green parts separated
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
In a medium saucepan, combine the gochujang, honey, gochugaru, rice wine, and soy sauce with 1 cup water and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
Add the rice cakes and let them cook, stirring often, until the sauce begins to thicken and coat the rice cakes, about 3 minutes.
Add just the whites of the scallions, and let them cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Stir in the rest of the scallions and the sesame seeds and turn off the heat. Serve immediately.
*Note: Rice cakes last about 2 weeks in the fridge and 6 weeks in the freezer. If they are frozen, soak them in a bowl of cold water until they have defrosted. These days you can find brown rice cakes, and you can use those, too, if you want.
Goguma Jorim – Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 2 pounds (910 g) sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons gochugaru
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3/4 cup (45 g) thinly sliced scallions
- 1/4 cup (40 g)thinly sliced pickled jalapenos (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Scrub the sweet potatoes clean and cut them into 1-inch cubes.
In a mixing bowl, toss the sweet potato cubes with the olive oil and a pinch of salt, then lay them out on a baking sheet.
Roast the sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy on the outside. Let cool.
In a mixing bowl, toss the cooled sweet potatoes with the vinegar, sesame oil, gochugaru, soy sauce, garlic, scallions, and pickled peppers, if using. Serve at room temperature or cold. It will last in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
P.S. This is the third post sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. I am so excited to be part of thirty bloggers selected for this partnership! That means they send me cookbooks to review. This is a total librarian foodie dream & I am so honored to have been selected!