The Korean Table: From Barbecue to Bibimbap, written by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels, features 100 easy Korean-style recipes with American cooks in mind. Highlights include Baek Kimchi (White Kimchi), Saengsun Jorim (Fish Fillets with a Peppery Sweet Glaze), Hobak Jook (Sweet and Creamy Pumpkin Porridge), Sokalbi Gui (Barbecued Beef Ribs), Kong Jorim (Sweet and Salty Glazed Soybeans), and Miyeok Muchim (Seaweed and Cucumber Salad). Following the review, I will also be sharing their recipe for Tteok Sanjuk (Beef Skewers with Green Onions).
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. I reviewed the paperback version of this book, but a hardcover version will be released in March 2018.
Taekyung Chung is a Korean ex-pat currently residing in Tokyo. She has taught cooking for more than twenty years, made appearances on a popular Japanese cooking series, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. She is also a restaurant, menu, and recipe consultant for Korean restaurants and has written two Korean cookbooks.
Debra Samuels is a food/travel writer and cooking instructor currently based in Lexington, Massachusetts. She is a regular food writer and stylist to The Boston Globe and has taught cooking classes for over two decades. She is also the author of My Japanese Table (I reviewed this book in 2016).
Chapters are divided according to course: The Basics: Your Starter Kit for Korean Cooking; Starters & Snacks; Salads, Kimchi & Sides; Soups & Hot Pots; Meat & Poultry; Fish & Seafood; Vegetables & Tofu; Rice & Noodles; and Desserts & Drinks.
Taekyung and Debra joined together to create this Korean cookbook for Western home cooks who are looking to learn more about Korean cuisine. Taekyung worked with her family’s traditional recipes and modified them for contemporary tastes with ingredients that are becoming more readily available here in the United States. They begin with the history of Korean cooking including regional variations, the balancing of colors and flavors, how to put together a typical Korean family meal, and even medicinal qualities to consider.
The first chapter covers the foundation for the dishes with recipes for basic sauces, stocks, condiments, rice, and seasonings. There is a guide for the most common Korean pantry staples with the names in Korean (Romanized and Hangul) and English. A resource list follows the recipes and includes online store information for locating Korean products and tools.
Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. The title of each recipe is written in English and Korean (Romanized and Hangul). Headnotes are included with basic information, stories, tips, menu guides, and serving size. The photography is provided by Heath Robbins. Most of the recipes are accompanied by a quarter to full-size photo, generally of the finished dish. Step-by-step photos also are added for more difficult techniques such as folding Mandu (dumplings) or slicing beef for Bulgogi and Sokalbi Gui (Barbecued Beef Ribs).
This book is a great pick for those new to Korean cooking. Most of the dishes come together easily and are often perfect for weeknight meals. There are a few authentic recipes alongside others that have been adapted and simplified for the American home cook. Generally, the ingredients are readily available in the average grocery store, though a few many require more effort to locate such as certain mushrooms, Korean rice cakes, daikon radish, sesame oil, rice flour, Korean coarse pepper flakes (gochugaru), dried seaweed, Napa cabbage, miso, Korean red pepper paste (gochujang), tahini, and yooja honey.
Tteok Sanjuk (Beef Skewers with Green Onions)
Tteok Sanjuk (Tteok Sanjeok, 떡산적) are small skewers of alternating beef, rice cakes (garaetteok), and green onions. Even when it is cold outside, they can be easily made indoors with a grill pan or skillet for any time of year you are craving barbecue.
The beef and green onions are marinated briefly in a sweet and savory mixture with seasoned soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. The ingredients are pierced near the top so they hang like curtains instead of through the middle. This makes them easier to work with and flip due to the length of the slices. Start with a piece of beef, then green onion, rice cake, another piece of beef, green onion, rice cake, and a final piece of beef. Keep an eye on them in the pan since they cook quickly. Taekyung recommends serving the Tteok Sanjuk with Brown and White Rice with Beans, Pickled Pearl Onions, and Kimchi.
Garaetteok are rice cakes made by pounding steamed rice flour and shaping them into long cylinders. I was able to find them in the refrigerated section of a local Asian food market specializing in Korean ingredients. They may also be found in the frozen section. If using frozen garaetteok, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before preparing. You can also make your own (haven’t tried this yet). These thick rice noodles have a chewy texture that contrasts nicely with the thinly sliced beef and green onions in the Tteok Sanjuk. If you love thicker noodles and dumplings like I do, it is definitely something to try.
Looking for other ways to use Korean rice cakes? Try Duk Mandu Guk (Korean Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup), Gungjung Tteokbokki (Korean Royal Stir-Fried Rice Cakes), and Tteokguk (Korean Rice Cake Soup).
I also made Gamja Bokkum (Stir-fried Vegetable Matchsticks), Mandu Ramyun (Ramen Noodle and Dumpling Soup), Geran Chim (Egg Custard Beef Soup), and Saenggang Cha (Ginger Tea).
Gamja Bokkum are matchstick-cut vegetables (potato, onion, and carrot here) stir-fried lightly with a little salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. It has become my new favorite way of using up leftover potatoes. Taekyung also provides tips for slicing the vegetables as thinly as possible.
Mandu Ramyun is a warming soup for a chilly day. As a bonus, it includes many of my favorite things all in one bowl- ramen noodles, mandu (dumplings), and sliced rice cakes. They are simmered in a seasoned beef stock and finished with bok choy, green onions, and egg. The spice level can be controlled with the addition of a seasoned red pepper paste. I kept it lighter for the kids and added a bit more for Chad.
The Geran Chim (Egg Custard Beef Soup) is another comforting and easy dish. Beaten eggs are steamed or microwaved in a beef stock with ground beef, green onions, and seasonings. This created an incredibly rich and creamy texture.
Saenggang Cha is a simple ginger tea to help colds, coughs, or stomachaches. Instead of sugar, dates are added for a bit of sweetness with the option of including additional honey. Taekyung also recommends transforming this into a refreshing drink with club soda and a lemon slice.
Tteok Sanjuk (Korean Beef Skewers with Green Onions) Recipe
Tteok Sanjuk (Korean Beef Skewers with Green Onions)
Excerpt from The Korean Table
Makes 6-8 small skewers
1/2 pound (250 grams) sirloin steak tips, boneless rib eye steak, filet, or boneless short ribs
16 (2 inch, 5 centimeter) Korean rice sticks (or longer sticks cut into 2 inch, 5 centimeter segments)
8 green onions (scallions), cut into 2 1/2 inch (6 centimeter) piecers
8 (7 inch, 18 centimeter) bamboo skewers
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
5 tablespoons Sweet Soy Base Sauce, see note below
1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic paste
1 green onion (scallion), minced1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
If you’re using whole steak tips, cut them crosswise into segments approximately 3-4 inches (7-10 centimeters) in length. Cut the beef against the grain into 1/2 inch (1.25 centimeter) thick slices about 2 inches (5 centimeter) in length. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add the rice sticks and cover with boiling water. Let them sit for 5 minutes until softened. Drain in a colander.
In a large bowl, combine the sauce ingredients. Add the beef and scallions to the bowl and marinate for 10 minutes.
Take a bamboo skewer and thread a piece of meat, a piece of green onion, and rice stick. Thread the skewer along the far edge of the food. Repeat the pattern until the skewer is full, ending with beef. Each skewer should have three pieces of beef.
Add the sesame oil to a large skillet or brush the surface of a grill pan with the sesame oil and place over medium heat. When the skillet or pan is hot, cook the skewers for 1 minute. Brush with the remaining marinade. Turn the skewers over and cook 1 minute more, or until the beef is cooked through.
Place 2 skewers on each plate and serve the Tteok Sanjuk hot.
Sweet Soy Base Sauce
Makes 1 3/4 cups (425 milliliters)
1/2 cup (125 milliliters) water
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 (1/8 inch, 3 millimeter) slices peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 cup (250 milliliters) soy sauce, preferably low sodium
1/2 cup (125 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (65 milliliters) red or white wine
Combine the water, garlic, ginger and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Be careful not to let the liquid evaporate completely.
Add the soy sauce, brown sugar and wine. Turn the heat to high and boil for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Strain the sauce through a sieve into an airtight container. Discard the ginger, garlic and peppercorns. Store the sauce in the refrigerator. It will keep for 3 months.