Thrown together

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One of the things I miss most about not writing a cookbook is making Korean meals that are just thrown together.  The kind of Korean dishes Diane and I are most interested in are ones for which there aren’t really set recipes.  It matters how salty your soy sauce or how sweet your cabbage is — it’s really hard to say you must include a tablespoon of this or a teaspoon of that.  But I know people want guidance in a cookbook, even if it’s just that you start with a tablespoon and then add more to taste, which means I wield my measuring cups and spoons much more than I normally do.  I also know that we’re dealing with the additional challenge of explaining unfamiliar ingredients to the non-Koreans we hope will buy this book.

This lunch salad, though, was thrown together with leftover cheongpo-muk, a jelly made out of mung bean starch, and leftover perilla leaves, scallions, and sprouts.  I drizzled some soy sauce and sesame oil, I sprinkled a big pinch of gochukaru or red pepper powder.  It was really good.  But I can’t tell you exactly how I made it.

So how much guidance do you look for in a cookbook?

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3 Responses to “Thrown together”

  1. Matt Reid Says:

    Grace, I really like the approach Mark Bittman takes in How to Cook Everything. He has specific recipes, but if you back up you will find his overview of the concept of a particular dish and how it works. This is usually followed by a basic recipe for the dish, which renders the specific recipes that follow simply shortcuts for those who don’t have the time or patience to read what comes before. Those recipes also serve as inspirations to the imagination of the cook. It’s a nice balance of empowering the cook and providing the guidance that some cooks will want.

  2. Grace Says:

    Thanks, Matt, I really like Mark Bittman, too. I love how he makes cooking sound so doable! I hope I can achieve that tone, too.

  3. Sharon Says:

    Most often, I treat recipes as ingredient lists, a glance to make sure I don’t forget the tarragon or that it’s baking soda and not powder. But having the basic techniques and knowing my own tastes and oven allows me to then do whatever I want. If it’s something unusual or unfamiliar to me, then I do have to read more carefully. For non-Koreans like me, more explanation of various seasonings and vegetables will be warranted.

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