Korean food is awesome. I love eating it! But despite being comfortable in the kitchen, I have largely avoided cooking it.
I think this is due to a few things. 1) It's hard for anything to taste as good as my mom's cooking (such a Korean thing to say but it's true!). 2) Many years ago I bought a couple of little Korean cookbooks and all the recipes were meh...it's such a bummer to buy all the ingredients and put in a ton of effort for meh results! 3) I have been intimidated by the feeling that I need to prepare all the banchan (side dishes) that come with a proper Korean meal. My mom typically has 5-10 banchan kicking around on her table and it just seems overwhelming to me. 4) I have been intimidated by the prospect of going to H Mart by myself for a million specialty ingredients, feeling like a bad Korean since I can't read any of the labels.
I clearly have issues, people!
For Christmas I asked for and received this Koreatown cookbook by Deuki Hong + Matt Rodbard. I decided it was high time I get over myself and explore (my 2019 word!) Korean cooking, letting go of the assumption that I need to prepare a slew of banchan in order to enjoy a Korean meal. At first blush this cookbook is awesome and different from a lot of cookbooks: there are delicious looking recipes and photography of course, but there's also a lot of storytelling -- about the recipes, about Korean foodies around the country. Also, I appreciate the snarky humor.
Now, back to the task at hand. I recently went through the cookbook and decided to flag recipes that look awesome AND don't have an extensive ingredient list. I flagged 18 things (and this was really just my first cursory pass) and there are only 3 things I need to go to H MART for (I could probably manage alone but I am going to invite my mom to go get bibimbap)! .
For my first effort, I made the soondubu jigae (soft tofu stew) and it was easy and awesome. Even without accompanying banchan! I can't wait to explore this cookbook further!