Good morning. “If I could only have 10 Korean dishes for the rest of my life, this would be it.” Eric Kim wrote in the Food section of The Times this week.
Eric is a writer for the Food desk, an Eat columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and a son of South Korean immigrants who has attended his mother’s masterclass in Korean cooking since he was old enough to walk,” a small shadow follows her around our kitchen in suburban Atlanta, tasting her kimchi on sugar and salt; helping her pick and wash perilla leaves from the garden for a family dinner of ssam; or, later in life, sitting on the kitchen island and watching her crush gim, that glorious roasted seaweed, over a plate of fried kimchi rice.
What follows are Eric’s essential Korean recipes, dishes that are essential to him and to his experience as a person of South Korean descent.
First, doenjang jjigae, an umami-rich stew packed with doenjang, the fermented soybean paste, and sweet with onion, zucchini and radish. (Make it vegan by skipping the anchovies and using tofu instead of the rib-eye steak.)
samgyeopsal (above) is “three-layer meat,” referring to how pork belly has a thick hat and two lean layers of meat underneath, one light and one dark. It’s an easy way to experience Korean BBQ at home.
Budae jjigaeor army base stew, is a holdover from the end of the Korean War, when resourceful home cooks used leftover rations from the United States military to make a satisfying stew: hot dogs and spam lapping in a broth of kimchi and gochujang, with noodles drifted with American cheese.
Miyeok guk is a seaweed soup known by many as birthday soup. Eric’s version omits the regular beef broth in favor of one made with clams, onions, garlic, and anchovies.
Fried rice usually calls for refrigerated leftover rice, as using freshly steamed grains too often leads to lumpiness. But Eric’s velpan kimchi fried rice can be made with fresh rice, as the heat from the oven draws out the moisture for crispy, chewy results.
Seolleongtang is a dead simple, comforting soup made from beef bones and scallions, cooked for several hours to create what Eric calls “a greasy smell.” It is finished with a kind of gremolata of spring onions, garlic and salt.
fish jorim is a staple of Korean home cooking, best made with whatever fatty fish you have, in a broth of soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.
There is a riot of textures in Eric’s cheesy cabbage tteokbokkistir-fried chewy Korean rice cakes with gochujang topped with melted cheese, shredded raw cabbage and an array of halved soft-boiled eggs.
Before there was Korean fried chicken, was there? tongue roof guia type of rotisserie chicken brined in a soy sauce mixture enlivened by ground white pepper.
And of course Eric provides a recipe for tongbaechu kimchi to top it all off, quartered Napa cabbage salted and sauced, then refrigerated to ferment as long as you can before eating.
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