Why I never learned to cook Korean food and My Favorite Korean Recipes


In my About page, I briefly mentioned that I never learned to cook Korean food growing up. This is quite a shocking fact considering we were an immigrant family (I came to the U.S. at a very young age) and my parents were very traditional, particularly about gender roles. My dad, being the head of the household, had very gender specific expectations. I frequently heard things like “Learn to cook or no one will marry you” and “If you don’t learn to cook, your husband will chase you out of the house.”  All these comments did nothing more than have the opposite effect, making me have very strong feelings about gender roles and a firmer belief in gender equality.  I refused to learn to cook because I didn’t buy into the type of relationship my dad felt men and women should have—one in which the woman’s value was placed on how well she cooked or kept house. Plus, I never really enjoyed cooking much or got anything out of it (I did like baking and experimented with that a bit) so I never really learned to cook.

Here I am many years later wishing I did learn how to at least make a few Korean meals. I never really had to learn to cook Korean before because I always lived in cities with access to great Korean food. Living where I do now, I am able to find decent Korean food but nothing great and even the decent food requires leaving my city. I miss eating Korean food and going to Korea to pick up my son has really put that desire into overdrive. And although I don’t really enjoy cooking, I find myself enjoying cooking Korean food, especially for my non-Korean friends who love eating it. My mom has taught me how to make a few meals, including making kimchi, but I am mostly learning by trying out recipes on the internet. I have a very particular flavor profile that I look for—i.e. the flavors I remember from my childhood so I often have to try at least 2-3 recipes until I find the right one. I am also not familiar with all the names of the foods I ate growing up so it’s taking time for me to search for and discover the right recipes.

Below are some of my favorites that I’ve found so far. I’m sure I’ll add more to this list in the future as I have time to test recipes and possibly replacements. Korean food doesn’t technically have a main dish but consists instead of rice and sides with one or two ‘main’ items. I’ll categorize accordingly. Please note, the photos were taken by the respective site owners. Do you have some favorite Korean recipe links to share?

Main Dishes

Spicy Pork Boolgogi
by Beyond Kimchee


Yook Gae Jang
by Korean Cuisine


Seafood Kalguksoo
by Korean Cuisine


Kimchi Stew
by Beyond Kimchee


Doenjang Jigae
by Beyond Kimchee


Bibim Guksu
by My Korean Kitchen


by Beyond Kimchee




Side Dishes

Pan Fried Tofu
by Beyond Kimchee


by Heart Mind and Seoul


Spicy Radish
by Apricosa


Cucumber Salad
by Korean Bapsang


Seasoned Perilla Leaves
by Korean Cuisine



Bibimbop Gochujang*
by Asian Supper





*My mom taught me a shortcut trick which is to take regular gochujang and add soda to it (something like cola, Sprite/7-Up or ginger ale work well), mixing until you get the right consistency. I generally don’t stock soda in my house so I much prefer this recipe, not to mention it’s a bit healthier!

As you may have noticed, Beyond Kimchee is my favorite blog. I have tried a bunch of recipes on her site and loved everything with the exception of the Cola Braised Chicken and that might have been because it didn’t fit the flavor profile for which I was looking. Holly, the site author, takes really beautiful photos which is always a pleasure to gawk at. As an aside, she also has a fantastic Jajangmyun recipe that I’ve made some modifications to which I’ll share in the future!