When you discover your latent love of Korean food (it’ll happen, if it hasn’t already), you’ll do like me and scour the web for recipes for jeon, ramyun, at least a starter kimchi kit. But before you delve too quickly into first-time cabbage fermentation, you should e-mosey your way over to Kimchi Mom: Recipes and stories from a Korean-American kitchen.
That kitchen belongs to Amy Kim, a.k.a. Kimchi Mom. And her blog is where Korean tradition meets homemade meets some good old-fashioned fusion (Sloppy Jaes, anyone?). But even tweaked or playfully Americanized recipes carry generations of culinary DNA—and much of that comes courtesy of Kim’s mother, a Korean native who came to the states to help her daughter and son-in-law with their two young children, with an emphasis on cooking.
Image courtesy of Kimchi Mom
“From day one,” Kim recalls, her mother had a healthy, typically vegetarian meal on the table for the entire family—in under an hour. Our blogger was so inspired (and probably a tad motivated by her mom’s inevitable departure), she took it upon herself to keep those traditions going, and to document them, à la Julie & Julia.
Not that it’s all warmth and family. There’s some swagger there, too, which makes it all the more fun. Of her Ddukboki, Kim says: “It’s comfort food. It’s street Food. It’s Damn Good.” It’s nice to meet an Internet mom who’s not afraid to call it like she sees it. And Kim seems happy to share stories, those of family and personal situations that accompany real work in the kitchen.
In her recipe for homemade kochujang (that addictive Korean red pepper paste) Kim admits to talking to her little jar of fermenting red pepper—aka “Little Guy,” as she calls him—putting him out for the day on a sunny porch and bringing him in at night. A month and a half later, Kim ended up with something that surpassed anything store-bought. “The flavor is much more complex,” she said. “Homemade kochujang has a smoky heat, with a bit of tang, and a texture that is thick and pasty.” Yes, our mouths are watering.
If you find Korean ingredients at all intimidating, or inaccessible, you’re in good hands. Kim explains everything—the fact that she has a lot of how-to video content helps—making those bold, fresh Korean flavors you’ve come to crave seem that much closer to home. If you don’t live near a Korean market, many specialty foods are available online, and Kim tends to link to ingredient sources whenever possible. No doubt her mom, Kimchi Grandma?, would be proud.