There are a few different Korean cookbooks around and I definitely think this is one of the best because of the detail it goes into about key ingredients and the style of cooking. Dave, as a graphic designer and someone who has lived and worked there, likes the frequent pictures of Korea and the typography (including Korean writing and phonetic names for each dish).
For me, cookbooks are more than just a reference point for creating a recipe. I like to read them. This one is beautiful and the photography really sings from the pages, I really want to go to Korea and experience the food and culture for myself!
The first dish I created from this book was a very easy, quick recipe called oh-ee kimchi (오이김치) or 'Almost-instant Cucumber Kimchi'.
This really is quick and simple and if you've ever made your own kimchi from scratch, you'll find you should have everything you need in the cupboard - most importantly, the gochugaru or red pepper powder. The full, original recipe can be found on the Guardian website here and for ease, I've typed it out below too.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6 as a side dish):
- 3 Persian (pickling) cucumbers or 1 regular cucumber
- 1 tsp fine sea salt 1 tsp
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 tsp gochugaru red pepper powder
- 2 tsp unrefined sugar or coconut palm sugar (I used caster sugar)
- 2 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp roasted sesame seed oil
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds to garnish
- Wash the cucumbers and pat them dry. Halve them lengthways then slice into very thin half-moon shapes. Put the slices in a bowl with the salt and mix together. Set aside for 30 minutes
- Combine the remaining ingredients, apart from the sesame seeds, in a bowl. Drain the cucumbers of any liquid then add to the bowl. Gently, but thoroughly, combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour or until chilled.
- Serve sprinkled with the sesame seeds. It will keep for a week in the fridge if stored in an airtight container.
The finished thing is nutty from the sesame oil and sweet from the sugar. The red pepper powder give it a slight tang but not too spicy. I was surprised at first by the taste. Because the recipe skips the fermenting process, it doesn't have that sharp fizzy spice to it which you'd expect from the kimchi we tend to know and eat here in the UK. There are so many varieties of kimchi in Korea and Dave was well impressed, he thought it tasted very genuine and considering the amount of time it took, a great accompaniment to our lunch. Thumbs up! Now to the next recipe...