Our Korean Kitchen features 100 of the best-loved recipes from the home kitchen of Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo. Notable favorites such as Bibimbap (Mixed Rice with Vegetables and Beef), Baechu Kimchi (Classic Cabbage Kimchi), Japchae (Beef and Vegetables with Sesame Glass Noodles), and Bulgogi (Sesame and Soy-Marinated Beef) can be found alongside lesser-known specialties like Hongsi (Persimmon with Maple Syrup and Lime), Paeju Gui (Scallops with Salted Sesame Oil), Hoedeopbap (Raw Fish, Vegetable and Rice Salad), and Bindae-Ddeok (Mung Bean Pancakes). Following the review, I will be sharing their recipe for the summertime favorite, Mul Naeng-Myeon (Buckwheat Noodles in Chilled Broth).
Jordan Bourke is a private chef, writer, food stylist, and consultant. He trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland, won the title of best Korean chef in the United Kingdom at the 2013 K-Food Festival, and was awarded an honorary ambassadorship by the Korean Foreign Ministry to promote Korean food in the UK. He is also the author of Healthy Baking, The Guilt-Free Gourmet, and The Natural Food Kitchen. He currently lives in London with his wife, Rejina Pyo.
Rejina Pyo is a Korean fashion designer with an eponymous womenswear label in London. She graduated with an MA in Fashion from Central Saint Martins, has worked for many luxury fashion houses, and was the recipient of the Han Nefkens Fashion Award in 2012.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Weldon Owen in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Chapters are divided based on type of food: Rice & Savory Porridge; Soups & Stews; Vegetables, Pickles & Sides; Pancakes, Fritters & Tofu; Noodles; Fish; Meat; and Dessert.
Jordan begins with his introduction to the incredible Korean cuisine through his wife’s family and how they brought those flavors to their home in London. For those new to Korean cooking, a guide is included for Korean mealtime customs; how to navigate basic pantry items with names in English and Korean (romanization and hangul), photos, and descriptions; and menu ideas and pairings for everything from quick meals and light lunches to dinner parties and barbecues.
The photography is provided by Tara Fisher. Most of the recipes are accompanied by a beautifully styled, full-page photo of the finished dish along with photos scattered throughout of the scenery and people. Each dish has the name in English and Korean (romanization and hangul), a headnote with background information and tips, and serving size. Measurements are provided in US Customary (the US version- there is a UK edition from 2015).
This book is a great pick for those interested in homestyle Korean cooking. Recipes range in difficulty from 5 minute sides to kimchi that requires a few days of resting time. Having a market nearby that specializes in Korean ingredients will be helpful. Some more difficult to locate items include wakame, daikon, sweet potato glass noodles, gochugaru, gochujang, pork belly, wasabi paste, roasted seaweed, napa cabbage, lotus root, perilla leaves, Asian eggplants, fresh seafood, doenjang, black sesame seeds, and more.
With temperatures in the 90s for weeks now, this Mul Naeng-Myeon (물냉면, Mul-Naengmyeon) is a wonderful way to beat the heat. Naeng-Myeon (buckwheat and sweet potato noodles) are paired with a chilled beef broth seasoned with wasabi and rice wine vinegar. Before serving, an assortment of halved hard-boiled eggs, julienned Asian pear, cucumbers, and thinly sliced beef are placed on top.
This recipe uses rice vinegar in place of the usual brine from pickled radish (dongchimi). To make the soup extra chilled, store the broth in the freezer long enough to form a thin layer of ice crystals on top, 1-2 hours before serving. For more of a kick, use the naengmyeon to make Bibim Naeng-Myeon (recipe also in book).
Naeng-myeon are long, almost translucent noodles. Their chewy, springy texture is created with the starches of buckwheat/sweet potato and wheat flour. They can be found in the dried noodle section of Asian food markets with Korean ingredients or for a higher price on Amazon: Naengmyeon.
The Asian pear (apple pear, sand pear, nashi pear) is a large pear found in eastern Asian cooking. Compared to western pears, the Asian counterpart is more crisp and juicy. They bruise easily, so be careful with storage (in a cool, dry place). Pick ripe pears by their strong, sweet smell. Avoid those that are bruised and soft. I have been able to find them in larger grocery stores and the produce section of Asian food markets.
I also made Kim-Bap (Rice & Seaweed Rolls), Ki-Rum Ganjang Ddeokbokki (Crispy Soy Rice Cakes), Bo-Seot Namool (Soy-Seasoned Mushrooms), and Hoddeok (Pecan and Cinnamon-Stuffed Pancakes).
Kim-Bap are thinly sliced rice and seaweed rolls. These incredibly flavorful rolls have roasted sesame seed-seasoned rice as the base and are tightly rolled with marinated beef, egg strips, spinach, carrots, cucumber, and pickled yellow radish. I ate way too many of these in one sitting. They keep well for lunches and picnics.
I was first introduced to rice cakes a few years ago and have been searching for different ways to cook with them ever since. I loved the simple, crisp presentation in this Ki-Rum Ganjang Ddeokbokki (Crispy Soy Rice Cakes). Springy rice cakes are pan-fried until crisp and coated in a sweetened sesame soy sauce. For a bit of a kick, the opposite page has a recipe for Ki-Rum Ddeokbokki (Crispy Chili Rice Cakes) with gochugaru and gochujang.
Bo-Seot Namool (Soy-Seasoned Mushrooms) is an easy side dish that comes together in less than 5 minutes. Sliced mushrooms are quickly stir-fried, then coated in soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. It can also be made ahead of time and served cold.
Hoddeok are sweet pancakes filled with a nut (pecan here) and cinnamon stuffing. I have made them a few times in the past and they have always been a huge hit. Evan helped me this time, so they were a little on the thick side, but still delicious. Be careful with that first bite! The molten cinnamon sugar interior gets quite hot.
Mul Naeng-Myeon (Buckwheat Noodles in Chilled Broth)
Excerpt from Our Korean Kitchen
3 oz beef tenderloin or sirloin, thinly sliced
3 1/4 cups beef stock, homemade or store-bought
3 tablespoons rice vinegar, plus extra to serve
2 tablespoons soy sauce
7 oz naeng-myeon or soba noodles
1 tsp sunflower oil
1/4 Asian or 1/2 regular pear (about 2 oz)
1/8 cucumber (1 oz), halved, seeded, and cut into half moons
1 hard-boiled egg, halved
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Wasabi paste, to taste
Place the beef slices in a large, deep pan with just enough of the beef stock to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes, until the beef is cooked through. Remove the beef slices and keep to one side (and refrigerate until ready to use). In a bowl, combine the hot beef stock with the cold stock and leave to cool completely. Season with the rice vinegar and soy sauce, then cover and refrigerate until very well chilled.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil, add the noodles, and cook for 4 minutes, until just cooked through, but still a little chewy. Drain and refresh with cold water until the noodles are cold. Drain again and toss with sunflower oil to prevent them from sticking together. Refrigerate until well chilled.
When you are ready to serve, peel and core the pear (if you haven’t already done so) and cut into thin julienne strips (don’t cut too far ahead of time, as the pear will discolor). Divide the noodles between 2 bowls, placing the slices of beef, pear, cucumber, and hard-boiled egg on top and scatter over the sesame seeds. Divide the chilled broth between the bowls and serve with the wasabi and some more rice vinegar. At the table, add in a little of each to taste; it should have a distinct flavor of wasabi. Stir everything together and enjoy.