Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Korean Home Cooking & Butchu Oi Muchim (Marinated Cucumbers)

Inasmuch is I do a lot of ethnic cooking, and have over 100 jars and bottles of spices with which to make all of these exotic dishes, I have absolutely no experience with Korean cooking. Other than kimchi, I couldn’t name a Korean dish. That’s why a new book called Classic and Modern Recipes Korean Home Cooking by Sohui Kim with Rachel Wharton, a new publication by Abrams books proved of great interest. Kim, a native of Korea, began her culinary adventures as a small child in her grandmother’s kitchen, nightly plating the banchan (side dishes) for the family’s evening dinner. Her interest and participation in her family’s meals blossomed with age, and she eventually found herself as a classic chef, owning her own Brooklyn restaurant called Good Fork.
From now until the end of next summer, I will be representing Abrams as a member of the Abrams Dinner Party. As a part of this membership, I will be reviewing some of their latest cookbooks, providing you with not only my opinion about these books, but recipes as well. This book is the first one that I chose to review, and the recipe that I found quite appealing, not to mention sinfully easy, was this one for Butchu Oi Muchim (Marinated Cucumbers).

This is a beautiful and informative book. You need no knowledge of Korean food whatsoever to be able to cook from it; in fact, you will find yourself learning a great deal in the process. There are colorful charts and photographs featuring all of the Korean ingredients that you will need for cooking along with thorough explanations of each, from fresh vegetables, to noodles, to herbs and spices, syrups, vinegars, oils and sauces, and equipment needed. 
In addition you will find many tutorials guiding you through not only the process of making the recipes, but tips on various techniques such as how to cut a vegetable into julienne, how to cut scallions into strips, how to cook rice, soak seaweed, and cut egg ribbons. From what I’ve seen, this appears to be the definitive book on Korean cooking, suitable equally for the novice and experienced cook. 
If you read this blog with any frequency, you know that I embarked on a deck garden this year, and one of the things that I grew with great success, was cucumbers. I grew two different varieties, pickling cucumbers, and English cucumbers, both of which worked well in this recipe. Korean cooking has many unique, new-to-me ingredients, that are, perhaps, equally foreign to you. Don’t let this slow you down, or stunt your curiosity because there are American substitutions.
In this recipe, one of the ingredients is called gochugaru. My guess is that quite a few of you don’t have this ingredient in your cupboard. This can be substituted with plain old American chili powder. I’m guessing you’ve never experienced the combination of garlic chives, cucumbers, and chili powder. Neither had I, but it’s refreshing, spicy, and delicious. It’s also stupidly easy to put together, can be made ahead, and keeps up to three days in the fridge. If you’re looking for a new salad to serve your guests, one that they haven’t had dozens of times before, this one is it.
Expand your mind, satisfy your curiosity, and improve and educate your pallet by picking up a copy of Korean Home Cooking. You can find one by clicking here.

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book by Abram Publishers in exchange for an honest review.


gluten Free A_Z Blog said...

How fun to be participating in the Abrams Dinner Party- I thought about it but I'm having a really busy year - I will look forward to your reviews. I also am not familiar with Korean cooking- this looks interesting. Have fun

bj said...

I've never had Korean foods...you make it sound good...