By Joanna Prisco
Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week is Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking by YouTube sensation and Korean food evangelist Maangchi.
If you’ve yet to come across a cooking video online by Maangchi, the first thing you should know is that her chosen moniker loosely translates as “’hammer’ in Korean: a cool name for a tough girl,” the author explains. So it follows that her instructional style is powerful and direct.
The lifelong home cook stumbled upon celebrity after years of studying recipes in Yeosu, South Korea, where she was raised, and later in Missouri and Toronto, two cities where she lived while fine-tuning her culinary voice.
An educator by trade, she credits her son with nudging her toward creating an online outlet for her passion.
“In April 2007, I filmed myself cooking ojineo-bokkeum, a sweet and spicy stir-fried squid dish,” Maangchi recalls in her introduction. “I edited it the next day. I added a Morrissey song for background, which might have been too loud. The camera wasn’t always in focus, and the smoke detector went off. But I thought the video was great, and my recipe, of course, was totally delicious.”
Gimbap, Korean-style sushi.
Maangchi’s tutorials quickly gained a following of millions, all curious to learn how to prepare Korean food, but often intimidated by unusual ingredients and poorly translated packaged goods. The responsive audience eventually allowed the author to quit her day job and focus on her own cooking site.
“The readers of my website live all over the world,” says Maangchi. “Their reasons for wanting to learn how to cook Korean food are incredibly varied, but they all come with tons of questions: Can I make my own hot pepper paste? How long does kimchi last in the fridge? What is jjajangmyeon?”
Part of the mystery around Korean cooking, Maangchi says, is that few Korean recipes had been adapted for English speakers over the years. So she made it her mission to do so herself, translating and demystifying traditional dishes with pictures, definitions, and easy-to-follow supermarket guides for shopping.
Yangnyeom-tongdak, Korean Fried Chicken
Now, she has collected all of that knowledge in a robust, full-color cookbook, nearly exploding with photos and tips.
“You should be able to use this book to order anything you want at a Korean restaurant or need at a grocery store,” writes Maangchi.
Those who brave the shopping aisles are justly rewarded with recipes such as classic Bulgogi (Korean grilled beef), fried chicken coated with “a sweet, sour, spicy sauce: yangnyeom-tongdak,” Gimbap (seaweed rice rolls stuffed with ground beef, crab sticks, egg and spinach), and Napa Cabbage Kimchi, the spicy, fermented condiment that is a staple of the Korean diet.
Just be prepared, it’s easy to get hooked on the latter’s acidic, pickled flavor.
“Koreans don’t think of kimchi in terms of servings,” writes the author in her notes. “We make a lot of it and use it for all kinds of things… Then, when it runs out, make more.”
Visit Yahoo Food throughout the week for recipes from Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking.
Check out other cookbooks from Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week: