Meet my mentor Maangchi

18 01 2009

How’s that for alliteration?! (Whattup Brooklyn Technical High School English!  I learned a fancy word!)

Having lived in Seoul, Korea for three years, I lovez me some Korean food. In fact, I think it’s very much an up and coming cuisine here in American and certainly in New York City. In the East Village where I live there are around 5 or 6 decent Korean restaurants in the 10-block radius around my house. Thing is, in addition to being on the pricey side, I still struggle to find really authentic stuff. I find that K-food in the city is generally a little sweeter and not quite as spicy as it should be. It’s hard for me to drop $15 on bibimbap when it goes for around $5 in Seoul and is essentially rice and vegetables. However, when I tried to create Korean food at home, even in Seoul where all of the ingredients were readily available, I just couldn’t get it right. Also, there are really no great cookbooks in English out there that I was able to find on Korea food.

I came across Maangchi by accident when searching da innanet for a recipe for “dwenjang jjigae” (or doenjang jjigae): soy bean paste stew. With over 40 videos she covers a wide range of the staples of K-cuisine. I have surprised myself and astounded Korean friends with coming damn close to the real thing. I got a lot of incredulous looks from my Korean friends when I told them I made two kinds of kimchi from scratch (which I still pat myself on the back for).  Although the cabbage kimchi was just a’ight, the radish kimchi tasted like the real deal! I’ve made over 10 of her recipes and there have been no duds yet. She even has a recipe for black bean noodles (Korean drama fans will recognize this dish) which many Ks know as take-out food only and not as something that can be made at home. Tonight I’m going back to basics with the first recipe I made (and have made many times). Like most good cooks Maangchi espouses improvisation so I’ll be using beef instead of shrimp.

People who cook will notice that the stew is built totally differently from Western-style cooking which is why watching a video really helped me. I was taught to saute vegetables in oil first and letting them release their juices to create the base for a broth but since Koreans add their soup base, in this case in the form of soybean paste, all vegetables should be brought to a boil without any prior cooking. This is one of the main reasons that my K-cooking was falling flat.

So if you like K-food or cooking in general, Maangchi is your girl. Plus she’s really great about feedback and every time I’ve commented on her blog or asked a question she’s always gotten back to me. Also, her name means “hammer” which is just plain awesome.

Big up to Korean market M2M AKA the “Asian Convient Store” on 3rd ave. & 11th street for having EVERYTHING a girl needs to get her K-grub on. If you don’t know, now you know.

http://nymag.com/listings/stores/m2m01/

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3 responses

19 01 2009
Maangchi

Maya,
You are living near me! Oh, is that you that you were going to come for my New York Meet up last time but couldn’t make it? I’m very honored to be mentioned on you blog.
(a little shy) : ) Thank you very much! It sounds like you are a Korean cooking guru!
I hope we can meet up someday soon. I’m planning to have my next New York meetup when it’s getting warmer.

19 01 2009
iammaya

Totally! I have a couple K-foodies in mind that might like to come to your NYC meet-up. Keep me posted!

26 03 2009
Cooking with Dog « ROM (Restaurant of the Month)

[…] a big fan of youtube for learning how to do stuff. Ever since I discovered Maangchi, which I mentioned in a previous post, I realized that youtube user generated content is a great way to learn things because you can seek […]

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