Judy Joo’s Korean Soul Food features favorite Korean flavors with Judy’s own unique and delicious twists. Included among the over 100 recipes are Kimchi Arancini, Philly Cheesesteak Dumplings, Japchae with Uni and Oysters, Galbi Steak Pie, Gochugaru and Nutella Brownie, Snickers Hotteok, and more. I will also be sharing her recipe for Siguemchi Namul (Korean Seasoned Spinach) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from White Lion 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.
Judy Joo, “a French-trained, Korean American Londoner,” is an executive chef, restauranteur, and TV chef. Her show, “Korean Food Made Simple,” appeared on the Cooking Channel and Food Network. Judy is also the author of Korean Food Made Simple. She has dedicated this book to her father for his 80th birthday.
Judy Joo’s Korean Soul Food
Chapters are divided according to the following: Salads & Banchan, Pickles & Kimchi, Dumplings, Street Food, Rice, Ko-Mex, Meat & Seafood, Soup & Noodles, Bread, and Desserts.
Judy begins with her family’s background and how she developed a love of cooking. She has been inspired in the kitchen by her own heritage while also picking up new techniques and flavors among her travels. Judy has blended these experiences in such fun and unique ways to create one-of-a-kind fusion dishes.
The beautiful photography is provided by Yuki Sugiura. Nearly every recipe is accompanied by a full page image of the finished dish. Measurements are listed in grams and ounces. Titles are written in English and Korean when applicable. As a note, the font for the ingredients in particular is a bit on the small side. Helpful tips are sprinkled among the pages such as how to store kimchi and check the seasoning of dumplings. Judy also shares fundamental Korean ingredients with photos, descriptions, uses, and substitutes when available.
The book is a great pick for those interested in Korean recipes with a twist. Dishes range from quick and easy banchan to a variety of kimchi that have long fermentation times and more intricate multi-step desserts. Having a Korean market nearby will be helpful for locating items such as gyeoja (Korean mustard), gochujang (chili paste), dwengjang (soybean paste), perilla leaves, gochugaru (chili flakes), pork belly, dashima (dried kelp), tofu, fresh seafood, green tea powder, Yuja (yuzu) juice, daechu (dried jujube dates), dangmyun (sweet potato noodles), mu (Korean white radish), anchovy sauce, garlic chives, and more.
Siguemchi Namul (Korean Seasoned Spinach)
Siguemchi Namul (시금치나물, Sigeumchi Namul- Seasoned Spinach) is a delicious, traditional banchan/side dish that comes together easily. In Judy’s version, spinach leaves, stems, and roots are lightly blanched and tossed in a garlicky sesame soy dressing. Serve with a variety of other banchan or even use in Japchae, Bibimbap, or Kimbap.
Judy mentions that her grandmother would always mix the spinach by hand to make sure the dressing was evenly coated. This definitely helps to make sure the flavors get into every nook and cranny.
Blanch the spinach just long enough to wilt. You still want to hold onto a bit of crisp texture in the stems for balance.
After mixing with the dressing, cover and refrigerate the Siguemchi Namul for about an hour to allow the flavors to blend.
I also made Tteok Kochi (Rice Cake Skewers), Rib-Eye Steak with Signature Sauces, Green Tea Monkey Bread, and Gyeran Bbang (Korean Egg Bread).
Rice Cakes are easily in my top ten favorite foods (especially in Duk Mandu Guk) and I was immediately drawn to all the varieties featured in this book such as the Tteok Carbonara (!!), Tteok with Perilla Leaf Pesto, and Pimped Out Tteokbokki. I ultimately tried Judy’s Tteok Kochi (Rice Cake Skewers). She demonstrates plenty of flavors, both savory and sweet, to pair with skewered rice cakes. My personal favorites were the rice cakes brushed with soy sauce, roasted sesame oil and hazelnuts, honey and desiccated coconut, and honey and sesame seeds. Other options include wrapped with kimchi and bacon, gochujang sauce and sesame seeds, daechu (dried jujube dates), misugaru (roasted grain powder), and more.
Judy serves steak with Korean-inspired sauces/butters at her restaurant and includes three delicious ones to try at home. I topped ours with the bulgogi butter. Softened butter is seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, gochugaru, garlic, ginger, and spring onion. Other options include the Perilla Leaf Chimichurri and Kimchi Bérnaise.
The Green Tea Monkey Bread is a wonderful addition to weekend brunch. Balls of yeast-raised dough are dipped in butter, then coated in green tea sugar before arranging in a well-greased bundt pan. Before serving, the bread is drizzled with a Yuja (yuzu) glaze and topped with chopped pistachios.
Judy adds a little twist to Gyeran Bbang (Korean Egg Bread) with the additions of bacon, tomato, and grated mozzarella cheese for an easy and delicious snack. The pancake-like batter is poured into paper-lined tins, covered in the toppings and an egg yolk, then baked until golden. They were a huge hit with the whole family.
Siguemchi Namul (Korean Seasoned Spinach) Recipe
Excerpt from Judy Joo’s Korean Soul Food
Siguemchi Namul (Korean Seasoned Spinach)
- 450 grams (1 pound) mature spinach with stem and roots
- Sea salt
- 2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon spring onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds crushed
- 1 teaspoon sagwa-shikcho Korean apple vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove grated or finely chopped
- Black pepper freshly ground
- Fill a large saucepan with water, salt well and bring to a boil. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath.
- Rinse the spinach with cold water to remove any dirt, especially around the roots. Remove any hairs from the roots. Cut the spinach into 7 cm (2 3/4 inch) long pieces. Keeping the purple roots intact. Split the roots in half horizontally and keep separately.
- In a medium bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
- Blanch the spinach in two separate batches. In the boiling salt water, blanch the spinach stems with leaves until just wilted, about 1 minute, remove the spinach from the water and plunge in the ice bath. Repeat with the spinach stems with roots, but cook for 1-2 minutes before plunging into the ice bath. Remove from the ice bath, drain well and gently squeeze out any excess water.
- Gently loosen the clumbs of spinach with your fingers and transfer to a bowl. Toss well with the dressing. Cover and chill for about an hour to allow the flavours to mellow before serving.