**I want to add a quick update because this is cracking me up. Ever since I posted this review, half of the ads I see on websites are in Korean. Apparently just taking the time to look up the correct names of food is enough to convince the bots you’re bilingual!**
I’m a little unsure exactly how to review a cookbook, but I’m going to take a crack at it, because this is a good one.
I first found Maangchi via her YouTube channel , where she does step-by-step tutorials for Korean recipes. Her personality, and her outfits, are just as big a part of the videos as the food, so even if you don’t have time to make Korean Fried Chicken (Dakgangjeong), you’ll still enjoy watching her make it. Then go get your own take-out because you won’t be able to stop thinking about tasty, tasty chicken.
I then saw her cookbook on sale for Kindle and figured I’d give it a go. I am really glad I did. I personally love Korean food, but other than a few “white people versions” of some basic dishes I’ve been nervous about tackling anything too complicated on my own. This is a fantastic primer if you’re nervous. Maangchi gets down to the real basics, with section on Pantry Basics as well as a whole chapter on the ingredients and tools she uses, with both the Korean and English names, and where to find them. She also provides substitutions where they are available in case you don’t live in a place with an easily accessible Asian market. Her writing style is very to the point, but even while explaining extreme basics like the different kinds of white rice she never sounds condescending or behave as if this is something her reader should already know.
The recipes cover a wide swath of fare, from day-to-day basics to party food to kimchi to desserts and drinks. So far I’ve upped my rice game to include her Multigrain rice (Japgokbap), which is a tasty and very hearty blend of four different grains and made Soybean Sprout Rice (Kongnamulbap) which came together really quick and easy and was a great weeknight dinner. I’ve also tried one of the juk recipes, which I liked the flavor of a lot, but I think I need to be a little more patient the next time I make it. I was in a hurry and even though it doesn’t take long to make, I rushed a few of the steps and I think my consistency will be better next time. There are also several kinds of kimchi and other staples that I’m looking forward to trying my hand at in the next week.
I love that she also throws in how to make challenging, and very time consuming recipes if you want to give them a shot. If you want to invest a year (yes, a full year for one batch) into making Doenjang, a fermented soybean paste used in a lot of soups and stews you can do it! She shows you how and is very encouraging!
Not only does this book contain really great food, but it also contains the story of how Maangchi became Maangchi, including how she got her moniker (Maangchi means ‘hammer’ and I’ll let you find out on your own how she got that name). It is a relatively normal, in that ‘we all have our stories’ way, yet also a really inspiring story and I’m glad I got to know a little more about her and her family in the course of reading through this book. I will probably still go to her videos, especially for the more complicated recipes, because I do enjoy watching her, but with the recipes in written form now I don’t have to wait until I have time to watch-as-I-go, I can add these into my regular rotation which I definitely will.
This is my Delicious! square for CBR 10 Bingo!