Korean Home Cooking

This week I wanted to make something out of one of the Korean cookbooks I have that I've never used. I can't remember where I got Korean Home Cooking from but I think I might have picked it up at a Korean store. It was originally published in Singapore and has a different feel to it than other Korean cookbooks books aimed at American cooks.

In some ways it seems a lot more authentic than other Korean books I've seen. It goes beyond bulgogi (barbecued beef) and covers a lot of dishes I haven't seen in other cookbooks. It even has a section on making your own sauces and pastes like Duenjang (soybean paste) which is pretty hard core (and something my mom actually does).

I chose to make japchae, a noodle dish, because I've eaten it many times over the years and thought I'd be able to judge how good the recipe was. Having said that, it's never been one of my favorite Korean dishes.

I love spicy food and while there are plenty of spicy Korean dishes japchae is pretty mild. It's also very time-consuming. When I told my mom I was planning on cooking japchae for a weeknight dinner her immediate response was "Why? That's a lot of work!" She was right, of course. Now I know why we only had japchae on special occasions like Thanksgiving (along with mashed potatoes and stuffing with kimchi--yum!)

The Verdict
4 out of 5 stars. While Korean Home Cooking is not the most accessible Korean cookbook out there it is one of the most authentic and versatile and contains recipes that I haven't seen anywhere else. The japchae I made tasted spot-on. If you're serious about learning how to cook Korean food it's worth tracking down a copy.

Japchae from Korean Home Cooking
(Hint: chop and slice everything before you begin cooking. I, um, didn't and it slowed everything down. I also didn't have any beef on hand so I used chicken thighs and it turned out fine.)

Ingredients

Beef and Mushroom Marinade
Spinach marinade
For Noodle Seasoning
Directions
Squeeze excess water from mushrooms, then remove and discard stems. Cut caps into thin slices
Combine Beef and Mushroom marinade in a glass bowl and add beef and mushrooms and marinate for about 20 minutes.

Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a frying pan. Add beef and mushroom slices and stir-fry until well cooked, 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside on paper towels.

Wash spinach, the remove and discard roots, reserving leaves and stems. Immerse reserved spinach briefly in rapidly boiling salted water. Quickly remove from water and drain. Squeeze out excess water.

Combine spinach marinade ingredients in a bowl and add spinach and set aside.

Clean frying pan and add a bit of oil. Add carrot and stir-fry. In another frying pan, fry egg white and yolk to make egg gidan (?--basically a very thin omelet). Remove from pan and cut into thin slices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Peel onion, cut in half vertically, and thinly slice. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan and fry onion slices, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add noodles, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from water and rinse in several changes of cold water until water is clear. Drain and cut noodles to make them easier to eat.

Combine noodle seasoning in a large mixing bowel. Add noodles and mix well to coat. Add beef and mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and onions and mix well. Serve sprinkled with pine nutes and ground sesame seeds, and topped with egg gidan.

(Serves 4 or 5.)

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