an (awesome) intro to korean cooking

korean grocery haul

incredible things happened this weekend. i got together with friends, one whom i hadn't seen in two years, on less than a week's notice. that's a scheduling miracle as far as i'm concerned. the plan was to cook korean food together, and i was so excited to learn about my friend's favourite meal growing up and how to make it, for instance. i could never have pictured them descending on my kitchen with bags and bags of dried seasoned beans, noodles, rice cakes, kimchi…picture the items above, plus items that went straight into the freezer, fridge and what simply didn't fit in the frame. everything we could have possibly needed for an afternoon of korean cooking 101. 

sliced king mushrooms julienned carrots

seaweed banchan 

we set out to make seven (seven!) traditional korean recipes, from banchan (we made marinated spinach and a surprisingly quick cucumber pickle), to tteokguk (sliced rice cake soup). the first dish out of the kitchen was a tart bowl of ginger scallion noodles, adapted from a momofuku recipe, and the last…

perilla leaves 

fried perilla leaves 

…floured and fried perilla leaves. raw, we noted they tasted mildly of mint and thai basil. i was even more in awe of their beauty than their flavour. fried whole, they were delicate and crisp. but a chiffonade or perilla leaves mound together before frying created thick and chewy patties.  

japchaetteokguk with dumplings 

korean feast! 

and then there was the japchae, soooo much japchae: glass noodles seasoned with sesame oil and topped with sauteed, julienned red pepper, carrots, mushrooms, scallions and egg. it was an epic cooking event, yet it wasn't hectic at all. a little cooking, a little music, hours to catch up and hang out, pausing to eat every now and again. i loved cooking with my friends, loved having them take over my kitchen. it made me feel like they were at home in my home which was the best part of all. we plan to do it again, sri lankan cooking is up next and then chinese, which i plan to share here too. i hope we're doing it in my kitchen again–the leftovers make the clean up entirely worth it!