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.
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.