Last Updated on June 29, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
Y'all know how much I love Korean food, K-dramas, K-pop, and Korean history. Ten years ago when I mentioned “K-drama” in a conversation, no one knew what I was talking about. Now, they're all over Netflix and people are sporting “I stayed up all night watching Kdramas” t-shirts.
I'm going to venture to say it's pretty hard to watch an entire series without craving some Korean food. (Need bibimbap right now!) It's kind of like how you see someone drinking coffee on tv and suddenly you want a cup, right?
Maybe you are about to stop reading because you have no idea what I'm talking about? Stick with me, you're going to be so happy you did. First, let's talk about this new cookbook selection, then I'll share some beginner Korean drama recommendations.
Oh, and if you aren't a member of the cookbook club – read more about it here.
Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine
Ticks all the Boxes
Some of my requirements for an excellent cookbook are easy to read font, beautiful photos, and recipes that anyone can follow. Maangchi has ticked every box with her new cookbook. The hardcover edition is what I have but it is also available on Kindle. Grab your copy of Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking on Amazon. If you're not prepared to add it to your cart right now, at least put it on your wishlist!
In fact, when it comes to the photos, she gets five stars as she includes close-up photos of steps in the preparation process in addition to stunning images of the completed dish.
I confess I'd already tried several of Maangchi's recipes from her YouTube channel, her blog, and her previous cookbook, so I knew this one was going to be good. Heck, we'd even made kimchi following her instructions. So, I trusted her. I regret nothing.
In fact, now that I have her new cookbook, I'm prepared to try an array of different kimchis!
Don't be intimidated if you've never cooked with Korean ingredients or techniques. One section in the book covers everything you need to know about ingredients and kitchenware. Another section walks you through how to implement any special cooking techniques. Very thorough.
Korean Cuisine is Healthy by Default
One thing I always consider when bringing a new cookbook into my home, or presenting it as an option for our online cookbook club members is “are there healthy recipes included?” I don't want to bring home a cookbook full of super sweet desserts or ones that call for a lot of processed foods.
That's the beauty of cooking and eating Korean cuisine. It's pretty healthy by default. Hotpots, side plates, bone broth, tofu stews, and lots of veggies are what you'll find in Korean home cooking. In addition, Korean cuisine makes spectacular party food!
On a side note, I threw a fun Bollywood Movie and Dinner “girls night in” style party while reviewing this cookbook. I plan to do the same with a “Korean food and K-drama night” soon! I love cooking for my friends, especially if it's a unique dish.
Maangchi's cookbook does include the addition of a teaspoon or two of sugar here and there, but if you are following a no-sugar diet, you can always substitute, as I do.
Huge Popularity of Korean Restaurants on the Rise
Our family loves to sit down to a traditional Korean meal and one of the best ways we've found to do that is to head to Korea-town. We've visited restaurants in California, New York, Texas, and even here in Tennessee! Of course, we'd love to travel to South Korea as well, but that will have to wait.
The closest thing we get right now is to use some of Maangchi's recipes to recreate authentic Korean Food right here at home. (Although a new Korean BBQ restaurant did open up here in Knoxville and it is so yummy!)
What To Love About Korean Cuisine
Let's talk about the side dish in Korean food: Banchan and Mitbanchan. Why are there so many!? I love that the author dedicates an entire section of the book to “side dishes to always have on hand.” She explains in the chapter introduction that side dishes are an important part of the meal and how they harmonize with the other dishes on the table.
The side dish recipes included in this chapter lean toward the traditional because she wanted you to experience authentic Korean meals rather than being inventive. She encourages you to try the recipe as is, and then if you like modify them to your taste and invent new ones. (Have I mentioned how much I love it when an author encourages you to “own it” when it comes to their recipe creations?)
Some of my favorite side dish recipes from Maangchi's big book of Korean cooking:
- Chive Pancake
- Salty Pickled Peppers
- Stir-Fried Potato and Ham
- Tuna Pancakes
Dosirak Made with Love
Another section I adore is the portable Korean lunchbox meals. Back when I first created this website, I packed lunches for four of my six children every day for school. I used the adorable (zero waste!) Planetbox which is very much like a bento box (Japanese) and similar to the Korean Dosirak.
The word “dosirak” refers to either the lunchbox or the meal inside but is meant to be food taken with you wherever you're going. Perfect for lunches at work or school, or even a fun picnic. The author includes details about how these boxes were made centuries ago and includes a few rules for making good dosirak.
Right here and now I'm going to admit that gimbap dosirak is my all-time favorite. It's seaweed rolls with rice, veggies, meats, and such inside. Really, I see gimbap as the Korean equivalent to the American sandwich when it comes to lunchboxes.
Full instructions are included, and once you get the hang of it, you can use whatever meats and vegetables and other fillings that you choose. She even recommends that if you have leftover gimbap that you pan fry it! Something I'd never thought of before, and let me tell you, it's the best thing you can do with your leftovers, giving them a second life.
Other delicious selections in this section:
- Omelet-Rice Dosirak
- Lettuce-Wrapped Bulgogi Rice
- Stir-Fried Kimchi (so good you'll cry)
- Glazed Meatball Dosirak
Street Food is Always Fun
Anytime I travel, anywhere I go, from Germany to China, I've always enjoyed the fun and tasty snacks and meals offered up right on the streets. My first real taste of street food was in Germany. I've been hooked since that first bite of Schnitzel on a stick… but I digress.
Korean street food offerings in this cookbook will have you doing a happy food dance. My youngest daughter is crazy about Spicy Rice Cakes in broth and has made them at home on many occasions. It's the side dish she orders over and over when we go out to a Korean Restaurant.
Try the recipe on page 392 if you wanna see what it's all about. Basically, rice cakes, known as tteobokki (super fun to say) are swimming in some hot pepper sauce. In this recipe, however, there is the addition of Ramyeon Noodles. What kid wouldn't be happy with all that starch, huh?
For something a little less starchy, try the Fire Chicken with Cheese on page 402 or the Army Base Stew on 396. If you're going for a healthier version, omit the Spam and use a bit more tofu.
I couldn't close this review out without admitting that I tried the fried chicken. While it isn't something I plan to put on my regular menu (frying is so messy) I have to say, it's worth doing at least once. Those of you who have drooled over drama characters eating fried chicken with beer know why.
In stark contrast, I'd also like to recommend the Korean Buddhist Temple Cuisine – Vegan Simplicity! Maangchi traveled to remote temples and took notes from the nun-chefs. Try the Temple-Style Sauteed Cucumbers and the Sweet and Crunchy Tofu. Also, take a look at the photos of the earthenware pots arranged by year on page 333. Stunning!
So what d'ya say? Are you ready to join us and get cookin' some sour baby back ribs or a ginseng milk shake?
Okay, don't just take my word for it, here's what others have to say,
Reading Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking is like being on a WhatsApp chain with my friends’ moms. There are photos of ingredients to buy (Sempio soy sauce, tubes of soft tofu) and recipes that go beyond KBBQ (chicken ginseng soup, Korean temple–style vegetables), all in the same tone that makes Maangchi feel like everyone’s auntie.
—Elyse Inamine, digital restaurant editor, for Bon Appetit
Now hop on over to the membership community and get to the heart of a food-obsessed culture with Maangchi, the Korean Julia Child!
- The scoop on Korean Dramas for beginners
- Korean Dinner Night to help kids explore countries and cultures
- Learn Korean by watching K-dramas
- K-dramas to Convert Non-Interested Friends I love the historical recommendations, known as “sageuks” here. Scarlet Heart, Moon Embracing the Sun – yes, please! Modern – My Love From the Star and Go Back Couple…swoon…
About the Author
MAANGCHI (“Hammer” in Korean) was born and raised in South Korea, where she learned the fundamentals of home cooking from her relatives. A former counselor for victims of domestic violence and movie extra, she is the founder-owner of maangchi.com, the top online destination for Korean cooking. She also has her own YouTube channel. She lives in New York City.
Martha Rose Shulman writes the popular recipe feature entitled “Recipes for Health” for the New York Times Food section and is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five cookbooks, including The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking,The Very Best of Recipes for Health, Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Cuisine (named one of the six best vegetarian cookbooks of the last twenty-five years by Cooking Light), Mediterranean Light, Provençal Light, and Entertaining Light. Her food combines pleasure and health, drawing largely from the cuisines of the Mediterranean, inherently healthy cuisines with big flavors.
Martha also works as a writing collaborator with chefs. She has coauthored two James Beard Award–winning cookbooks, The Secrets of Baking with pastry chef Sherry Yard and The Art of French Pastry with Jacquy Pfeiffer. She has also coauthored books with Wolfgang Puck, Dean Ornish, Mark Peel, Pati Jinich, and the Culinary Institute of America.
Reference: Maangchi | HMH Books. https://www.hmhbooks.com/author/Maangchi/14224923