My recent foray into the spicy world of Asian cooking is what immediately attracted me to this book. Korean gastronomy has essentially remained a cipher to me; even as I immersed myself in the splendid traditions of Thai cooking, the spicier foods from China's Sichuan Province, and food from the broad region of South-east Asia that contains India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Tibet. Korean food is distinctive in its use of chile pepper paste as an ubiquitous spice, in its creative use of noodles and barbeque flavors, and in the extensive use of garlic as a flavoring. Also distinctive is the spicy Korean pickle known as Kimchi which can utilize almost any ingredient you fancy. This superb book provides no less than six different Kimchi recipes ranging from Kimchi Pancakes to Cucumber Kimchi. There are many other pickled dishes including the proverbial Pickled Peppers. Meats are spiced, soups are spiced, shellfish, noodles and dessert drinks are spiced as well.
The noodle dishes are diverse and tasty as are the rice dishes. There is a recipe for Spicy Sashimi Rice that is particularly appetizing. Amongst desserts there are Poached Asian Pear, Chilled Cinnamin-Ginger Tea, an absolutely beautiful Watermelon Punch and a Lemon-Ginger Martini known as a soju cocktail, which is made from a distilled liquor made from potatos or yams. The combinations of flavors amongst the 70 recipes in this book is amazingly eclectic. Each recipe averages between 8 and 10 ingredients so they truly are light recipes. Something else that is attractive to a busy cook is that they are very easy to prepare and do not take long, most of them taking about 10-20 minutes of preparation.
I cannot imagine an easier introduction to this fascinating cuisine. The array of flavors and textures contained in this relatively slim cookbook is broad enough to forestall culinary boredom, even with frequent use. The book also contains some beautiful photos of food and Korean cultural sites, providing sufficient atmosphere necessary to act as an enticement to the prospective Korean cook. This is a splendid cookbook that will not gather dust on you book shelf.