1. When the weather is getting chilly like now, there’s nothing better than this dish with a shot of soju for dinner. It warms you right up! This dish is full of everything tasty, big chunky juicy dark meat chicken, soft potatoes and deep, rich and spicy juice that tastes so yummy when eaten with rice. Soju is a korean liquor made with mainly potatos. It tastes somewhere between japanese sake and vodka. It’s used in Korean cooking a lot, especially in cooking meat. When heated with meat, the alcohol evaporates and takes away the gamey smell of the meat with it. So even if you are not into drinking this liquor, it’s good to keep a bottle for cooking purposes. And they are super cheap at Korean grocery shops, usually less then $7 a bottle.  It is the most popular drink in Korea and there are many different brands but most of them come in green bottles. You can use any brand for cooking. If you can’t find soju near you, no worries. You can substitute soju with sake or vodka. You can use many different types of chicken as long as it’s dark meat: bone-in chicken thighs, wings, and drumsticks…etc. Just make sure they are not too big, and you might need to cook them a bit longer in order for the chicken to cook through. I like to use boneless chicken thighs the best because they take less time to cook and also less messy to eat. 

     
  2. Kimchijjigae is probably #1 comfort food Koreans miss when they are living overseas. And most Korean people think their mother’s Kimchiijigae is the best, kind of like how Italian Americans think their mothers’ meatball or Lasagnia is the best. The main part of this super simple dish is Kimchi and depending on how old the KImchi is, the taste will differ dramatically. Months of fermentation will make the Kimchi leaves very soft and the juice will become almost effervescent which makes it heavenly when made into stews.

    There are many variety in the protein content in this dish and the most beloved is the pork belly. But you can also use spam as I mentioned and also canned mackerel, saury or tuna. 

    Kimchijjigae is generally quiet spicy, but you can make it even spicier by adding more chili flakes and fresh green chili pepper or jalapeno peppers. Fresh peppers give another layer of spiciness to this dish over the mellow fire of the aged kimchi.

     
  3. What is the Korean girl chef wearing in my comic? It’s called Han-Bok, a traditional Korean dress. This particular top with striped sleeves is called ”Sek-Dong-Jeh-Go-Ri”  which is worn by girls on happy special occasions. The silk tie at the end of her braid is called “Deng-Ki”. It is worn by young ladies yet to be married. This tie was the sign for the town’s bachelors to know which girls were available. Once the ladies got married, they turned the braid into a bun and wore an ornate pin though the bun.

    Han-Bok is such a beautiful costume. It makes the woman look so graceful but unfortunately it is so uncomfortable to wear. I have no idea why they made the skirt to be tied so high, right on the breast line. Ouch!

    It’s hard to see anyone wearing Han-Bok in Korea anymore, except for the national holidays, weddings and funerals. I remember wearing them when I was a little girl visiting the elderly relatives in Korean new years and Chu-Suk, the Korean thanksgiving. I couldn’t wait to take it off because it was so itchy and uncomfortable. The only way for this dress to stay put was to tie it very tightly right underneath my armpit and I could hardly breath, let alone eating any of those wonderful Korean holiday food.

    There are many Korea dramas based on the Cho-Sun (Korean dynasty 1300s- 1800s) period and all the characters wear such a beautiful ornate Han-Bok. I’m a total sucker for those dramas. I’ve recently heard about this K drama called “Dae-Jang-Kum” which is about a female chef in the Cho-Sun era palace. It’s been translated as “The Jewel in the palace” in the other Asian countries and apparently it was a hugh hit a few years ago. I don’t watch much K dramas these days so I was completely oblivious to it until one of my Korean teacher told me to watch it since I’m doing a comic about Korean food. Korean Food drama full of beautiful Han-bok clad characters?? I was sold instantly and ordered the entire set online, I can’t wait to watch it! 

     
  4. robinha:

    I’ll be bringing my Banchan in 2 pages mini comic to Baltimore comic con this weekend. It’s fresh off the press, 24 pgs of full color yummy recipes!

    Baltimore comic con is this Friday through Sunday sept 5- 7, at Baltimore convention center on 1 west Pratt st, Baltimore MD.

    For more info
    http://baltimorecomiccon.com

    Find me at table A263!

    Get your hands on this yummy goodness this weekend at Baltimore comic con!

     
  5. There are a few things different about Korean dining from the American dining. I thought I should explain it briefly for those people who aren’t familiar with it. These days many Korean restaurants have been americanized so you can order snacks like pancakes and pot stickers as appetizers before you start your “main course”. If you do Korean traditional fine dining, as the Korean royalties used to have, there are many courses but in normal dining, there aren’t any “courses”. You order what you want and Banchan and rice would usually come out first so many people think Banchans are the Korean appetizers but it’s suppose to be eaten as part of your main meal. Of course, you can eat which ever dish in however order you want. We Koreans are not fussy with dining etiquettes. Double dipping is almost required in Korean dining because we share everything! We are all about enjoying the food the way you like it. No one’s going to to force you to eat a side dish you don’t like. You pick and choose what you like to eat and that’s the fun part about Banchan in Korean dining.

     
  6. Korea is a tiny country: North and South Korea combined is the same size as Minnesota. But South Korea alone has 50 million people and 1/5 of them are living in Seoul.  While doing some research on more traditional Korean recipes, I thought it would be good to make a brief map of Korea and its regional produce and cuisines. Most people think Korean BBQ as the prominent food in Korea but vegetable and seafood have had more impact in Korean traditional food. Long time ago, before we started importing food from other countries in the modern era, the meat was very scarce because Korea is full of rough mountains which are not good for farming or ranching. But we are surrounded by three seas which produce different types of abundant fresh seafood that we ate raw, braised, grilled, pickled and made jerkies with. The rich, meat orientated dishes developed in Seoul and other big cities that used to be the capital at some point in Korean history. But rest of Korea were eating rustic meals made out of wild earthy plants and preserved veggies and seafood to last the harsh winters. Wasting food is like the biggest sin in Korea. When we butcher an animal, we use every part of it including their organs, bones, blood and odd parts like the heads, tails and the feet. Actually, the weirder the part is, the better it tastes! And it’s interesting to see that cold food developed way up in the north, which has brutal long winters. You would expect more hearty, thick, warm meals from there, but no, Koreans from the north rather enjoyed the effect to refreshing cold meals, which are served with a chunks of ice floating in the bowl to make it extra cold. These cold noodles and soups from northern regions are now popular everywhere in Korea. Some of these recipes goes back hundreds of years and I wish to learn them all some day. 

     
  7. I’m like a vacuum cleaner when it comes to this dish, I can’t stop eating it! Mi-Yuk (Sea kelp) could be one of those weird, never-before-seen ingredient to the westerners but it’s been part of asian cuisine for centuries. It is silky, flexible yet crunch and somewhat meaty at the same time which is very different from land leaf greens. It’s hard to describe how good this is, so just try it and you won’t regret it!

     
  8. I don’t remember seeing bokchoy in Korea when I was growing up there in the 1980s and 90s but now it is getting popular as more and more people around the world begun to know about it and cook with it. It’s not uncommon to see this veggie in even american and european restaurants these days and I think it’s because it is such a versatile vegetable. It has two opposing qualities: delicate and tough at the same time, sorta like cross between napa cabbage and spinach, with a slight bitter after taste. It’s important to blanch this veggie enough for the bitterness to come out yet maintaining a firm texture. I use it for all kinds of cooking including stir fry, steaming, blanching and also a great addition to noodle soups. 

     
  9. Seafood scallion pancake seems to be everyone’s favorite appetizer when I bring my friends to Korean restaurants. It’s easy to share and c’mon, who doesn’t like fried pancakes? This pancake batter can be used to make variety of other “Jeon” (Korean word for pancake), including kimchi pancake, chive pancake, fish pancake, squash pancake which I’m going to show you how to make in the near future. By the way, flipping a big pancake can be hard not to mess up first time. So don’t be disappointed if it breaks apart when you flip them, it’s still going to taste good! And you can always divide the batter and make couple of smaller pancakes for easier flipping too.

     
  10. This egg dish comes out freshly made in a korean earthenware pot if you go to traditional Korean restaurants and it is one of the most savory, comforting food ever. It’s piping hot, the egg soft, airy and salty. The whole pot is gone into my belly in a blink of an eye. There are many different ways to make this dish and you can even microwave it for 3-4 minutes instead of steaming it and get a similar result but I think steaming makes it have better texture. Some people put it in a rice cooker when they are making rice, too. When you make a bigger portion of this recipe, remember to increase the cooking time accordingly. In case you are wondering what the Korean traditional earthenware pot (Ttuk-Bae-Gi) looks like, I’ve put some pictures of it above. You can easily buy regular earthenware bowls at any kitchenware stores like Crate and barrel, Pier 1 import…etc.