Cook the cuisine of the Olympics with 'Our Korean Kitchen'

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“Our Korean Kitchen,” by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo

Our Korean Kitchen
By Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo
Weldon Owen, 272 pp. $35.

I love the Olympics. From the opening to the closing ceremonies, I eat, sleep, and drink the Olympics.

And I mean it when I say eat. One of my favorite ways to completely immerse my family in Olympic glory is to cook the cuisine of the host country. With the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, my guide is Our Korean Kitchen  by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo, a husband/wife team. Jordan, an Irish chef, fell in love with Rejina and with the food of her Korean culture.

Camera icon Weldon Owen
“Our Korean Kitchen”

Being largely unfamiliar with gochujang, bibimbap, and bulgogi, and not knowing my jatjuk from dakjuk (pine nut and rice porridge, and chicken and sesame oil porridge), I am grateful for Bourke and Pyo’s expertise and guidance. The recipes are superbly written and include excellent descriptions (with photos) of a well-stocked Korean pantry, menu ideas, and a list of suppliers for what might be some hard-to-find ingredients.

I headed to a local H-Mart for dang-myeon (sweet potato glass noodles) for the dak jjim, a chicken, vegetable and noodle hot pot, and some gochugaru, a red pepper powder, for the ki-rum ddeokbokki, or crispy chili rice cakes. These are not hard, puffed rice cakes, but uniquely Korean. The authors describe ddeok (rice cakes) as having an unusual consistency at first but assure that they become quite addictive.

The chicken hot pot and the ddeok mandu guk (chicken dumpling soup) make warming, inviting elixirs for cold weather, and they come together quickly and efficiently, especially if you use store-bought dumplings in the soup.

Looking for some finger foods to snack on during your hours of TV watching? Be sure to try the twigim (prawn and sweet potato tempura). Inside a batter of rice flour and sparkling water, these quickly fried street-food favorites are airy and delicious, with an appealing crackle to the bite. Another excellent pick would be haemul pa-jeon (seafood and green onion pancake), a savory pancake filled with shrimp, squid, and green onions and served with a soy dipping sauce.

Let the games begin! (Your cooking game, too!) I have a box of tissues for the athletic highs and lows, and Our Korean Kitchen. I’m ready for the Olympics.


Chicken, Vegetable and Noodle Hot Pot

Makes 4-6 servings

Chicken, Vegetable and Noodle Hotpot (dak jjim) from "Our Korean Kitchen."

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces sweet potato glass noodles

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 3/4 pounds chicken, cut of your choice -- thighs, wings, drumsticks

2 medium potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks

1 large carrot, cut into bite-size chunks

1 large onion, cut into bite-size chunks

2 whole dried chilies (optional)

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and very finely grated

For the sauce:

5 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons mirin

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 tablespoons roasted sesame seed oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups chicken stock or water

1 red chili, seeded and finely sliced

1/2 green chili, seeded and finely sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced or sliced into very thin 2-inch lengths and soaked in cold water until they curl up

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put the noodles in a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with a lid over high heat. Add the chicken and fry for 3-4 minutes on all sides, until golden brown. Remove from the pan, then add the potatoes, carrot, onion, and, if using, dried chilies, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring now and again. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan together with all of the sauce ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the noodles from their soaking water and add them to the pan. Put the lid on and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the chicken, vegetables, and noodles are cooked through.
  4. Serve in bowls with the sliced chilies and drained green onions scattered over the top.

-- From "Our Korean Kitchen" by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo

(based on 6 servings, with chicken stock): 346 calories, 31 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams sugar, 12 grams fat, 85 milligrams cholesterol, 1,262 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.