Book Review: Koreatown - A Cookbook

Having been a frequent  visitor, over the last ten years, to the vast Koreatown in Los Angeles I’ve come to love Korean food.  Luckily I live near a multitude of Korean grocery stores where I can buy ready made food on the cheap but I’ve always wanted to make some of my own.  Korean cuisine is intimidating to eat at first and is even more intimidating to try and cook, especially since I haven’t found a solid cookbook to lead me.  

Koreatown by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard is a great introduction to Korean cuisine.  It covers many of the dishes that I’ve eaten in Koreatown and many more that I never even thought to order.  The thing about Koreatown (the place) is that for newcomers it’s best to go with a friend, a Korean friend, who knows where to eat and what to order.  This book can become your friend and help guide you not only while you cook but while you explore the restaurants throughout the city.  

The cover and quality of this book is top notch and the photography is beautiful and seems like the food pictured was made in actual restaurant kitchens rather than styled by a pro.  The book is organized nicely and starts with an introduction to equipment and ingredients.  Most of the ingredients are not that hard to find in major cities, the fermented sauces and such may be difficult for some.  Gochujang is in almost every recipe and unfortunately there is no recipe to approximate it at home for those without access but it is one of those things that can’t really be made at home.

After the intro the book flows into Kimchi & Banchan (starters), rice, noodles & dumplings, the famous Korean barbecue, drinking food, soups, stews & braises.  The authors also include chapters on modern chef takes on Korean inspired dishes, a drink section and a dessert section.

The recipes are nicely organized with ingredients in the margins and steps on the page.  A photo of every dish is included which I feel is very important when cooking a cuisine that is new to you.  I’m also one of the people that enjoy reading cookbooks and not just cooking from them.  This book provides an nice paragraph on each recipe and also chef perspectives on korean food.  I feel like this book is like sitting with a friend’s Grandma and watching her cook.  It’s not going to be perfect when you try it home but it will get you close and give you an idea of what your food should look like and what the flavor profile should be.  

Overall I really enjoy this book and already have a list of recipes I’m preparing to cook including Kimchi Jeon, Yachae Juk and of course Dakgangjeong aka Korean Fried Chicken.  If you are interested in a book with a variety of korean dishes found in restaurants this is a good start and a nice read.  It may not cover all the dishes that are eaten in homes but that’s not most folks are looking for anyways.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


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