If You Love Korean Food, You Need This Cookbook

Jinnie Lee and Maura M. Lynch
by Jinnie Lee and Maura M. Lynch
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Reprinted with permission from Cook Korean!, written and illustrated by Robin Ha, copyright 2016, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Though the cuisine is ancient, traditional Korean food in the Western world has gotten tremendously popularized within the past decade—you can even find kimchi at local supermarkets. But before Koreatowns across the country became hot dinner destinations for mass America, traditional dishes had modest beginnings back in South Korea, which was once considered a developing country.

In her new comic cookbook Cook Korean! (Ten Speed Press), author and illustrator Robin Ha not only teaches readers how to make every traditional Korean dish—like your favorite marinated beef barbecue (kalbi), stone-pot fried rice (bibimbap), and cold buckwheat noodles (naengmyeon)—from their own kitchen, but she includes fascinating historical trivia that culturalists will appreciate. (For instance, there’s a reason why fermentation is so rampant in Korean cuisine; it’s because most households were too poor to own refrigerators.)

The imaginative Ha, who emigrated from South Korea to Alabama as a teenager during the 90s, fills the colorful pages of Cook Korean! with detailed images, ingredients, and step-by-step instructions for even the novice chef. The result is a super-comprehensive guide to literally every kind of Korean meal you could want, from the everyday sides (i.e. banchan) to the more elaborate noodle and rice dishes that could rival anything you’d find at a Korean restaurant. Ahead, we chat with Ha about why Korean food is finally having its moment, what the biggest misconceptions are, and her work as a comic illustrator in a male-dominated industry.

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