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Korean/asian cooking

sixshootergirl Jan 29, 2009 06:35 PM

I have always been a huge fan of asian foods. I have not been able to go out to eat as much anymore though becuase ive been kinda broke lately. I recently discovered this amazing international market by my house called "Korean Korner" which has tons of asian foods that are compleatly affordable. the only thing is i need to learn to cook the stuff myself, and most of the packages dont even have english or instructions on them. I saw things like dried squid and other dried fishes, aloe, guava, so many different types of noodles and sea weeds, tiny shrinps in jars, kimchi and so much stuff i cant even identify. can anyone direct me towards a good place to find a ton of recipes and explinations for a lot of the foods that i dont even know what to do with? I love to cook and want to learn to do this on my own but i was so confused in this store. :)

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  1. billieboy RE: sixshootergirl Jan 29, 2009 07:00 PM


    1. pepper_mil RE: sixshootergirl Jan 29, 2009 07:27 PM

      Hi six shooter, one good strategy for shopping and cooking at an unfamiliar market is to go in when they are not too busy and quiz the staff. If you see some interesting looking vegetable or seasoning, ask a staff member how to use it. (I just did this at my local Chinese market and was blown away at the results.)

      Or, pick out one of your favourite things to eat that looks simple to prepare, go in with a recipe, and ask what you will need and how to make it. If you make a good contact there you can even take a sample of what you made back to the store and ask them to critique it.

      Suggestions to start: kimchi chigae, bindaedok, spinach or seaweed soup, jajiang noodles, cucumber pickles...

      7 Replies
      1. re: pepper_mil
        sixshootergirl RE: pepper_mil Jan 29, 2009 07:31 PM

        hmmm i will look into those. the thing is ive tried to ask questions but the people there speak hardly any english. It was hard enough to get them to show me where the bamboo rolling mats for sushi were

        1. re: sixshootergirl
          KTinNYC RE: sixshootergirl Jan 31, 2009 11:00 AM

          Don't make the mistake of lumping all Asians into one group. If the workers in the store are Korean than maybe they weren't very intrigued by the fact you wanted to make sushi

          1. re: KTinNYC
            sixshootergirl RE: KTinNYC Feb 1, 2009 06:36 PM

            when did i lump them into one category? all i said was that they didnt speak english.

            1. re: sixshootergirl
              KTinNYC RE: sixshootergirl Feb 1, 2009 07:06 PM

              You started your post by saying, "I have always been a huge fan of asian foods". There are over 50 countries in Asia and there are many, many regional differences. I'm not coming down on you but it would be like if someone posted, I have always been a huge fan of European food, please teach me how to cook it.

              1. re: KTinNYC
                sixshootergirl RE: KTinNYC Feb 2, 2009 07:53 AM

                well instead should i have said "i have always been a big fan of chinese, japanese, korean and indian food"? would that have been easier for u to comprehend?

                1. re: sixshootergirl
                  KTinNYC RE: sixshootergirl Feb 2, 2009 08:02 AM

                  Absolutely, all 4 cuisines are different and there are scores of regional differences. How are we suppose to know you weren't talking about Armenian, Turkish or Cambodian food?

                  1. re: KTinNYC
                    paulj RE: KTinNYC Feb 2, 2009 08:40 AM

                    While restaurants tend to specialize by country, or even regions within a country, groceries often have stock that reflects the local immigrant mix (though often with a focus that reflects the owner's nationality). The OP talked about shopping at a Korean grocery, and asking for a sushi mat.

                    A big NJ based Korean chain just opened in my area, adding competition to the local Japanese oriented chain, the California based Chinese oriented chain, and several medium size Korean oriented stores.

                    Among the baked goods near the checkout counters, H Mart sells Korean style sushi rolls. In the frozen section they having handing out samples of Oden fishcake. Oden is a Japanese one-pot dish, but these samples come from oden sets produced in Thailand.

                    When I shop at Trader Joes I usually stop at a nearby pan-ethnic produce stand. I believe the owners are Vietnamese, but there are aisles with Chinese items, SE Asian items, hispanic items, Middle Eastern, and east European sections. I haven't seen African imports, though some of the customers appear to be from there. Fresh breads include pan dulce, torta rolls, Vietnamese style rolls (sorry, I forget the proper name), east European ryes, and Armenian sweet and flat breads.

                    I don't think the OP needs to be pinned down as to her interests. They could be as eclectic as the store's stock.

      2. o
        OnkleWillie RE: sixshootergirl Jan 29, 2009 08:19 PM

        There is a book "The Asian Grocery Store Demystified" by Linda Bladholm that does a pretty good job of explaining what everything in the store is. It isn't as good as her Indian Grocery book but still very worthwhile for the newcomer. She also did one for Latino markets.

        You can pick them up on ABE Books for under $10.

        1. paulj RE: sixshootergirl Jan 29, 2009 08:21 PM

          your public library, or local used book store. My local Borders has some Hermes House cookbooks at prices around $5.

          It is easier to find Japanese and Chinese oriented cookbooks than Korean ones.

          This looks like a promising book

          I've just been reading this from the library
          which is written by a woman who grew up in both Korea and USA.

          1. bitsubeats RE: sixshootergirl Jan 29, 2009 09:59 PM

            Dried squid is for snacking on. You can run it over your burner to "toast" it up or I like to boil it in some water for a few seconds to soften it up. It's great dipped in sriracha or kewpie mayo.

            Dried fishes are generally used for making stock (if they are small tiny dried anchovies).

            Aloe is probably used as health food and I have no idea what guava is used for, bc I'm sure it's not native to Korean food.

            Tiny shrimps in the jar are used for several things. They can be added to kimchi as a fermenting agent or if they are mixed with other things can be made into a great dip for things like pigs feet (joekbal) or blood sausage (soondae).

            I say the easiest thing for you to do is to start out slow and try kimchi chigae. You can buy a jar of good kimchi and leave it out to "sour". Kimchi chigae has to be made with sour kimchi, not the fresh stuff.

            you can also try your hand at making banchan (side dishes). I would make a bunch of each and plate them at every meal as needed. Koreans tend to do this, and fresh banchan isn't usually made for every meal...too time consuming. If the korean grocery store is good, then they will have premade banchan for you to take home and eat.

            You can also try your hand at making kalbi or bulgogi. Thats pretty easy to make/eat and is a real crowd pleaser.

            If you have any other questions please ask (:

            5 Replies
            1. re: bitsubeats
              sixshootergirl RE: bitsubeats Jan 30, 2009 07:14 AM

              when you say leave out...do u mean buy the kimchi and just open it and not refridgerate it? i saw jars of it at the store. ive had it befor. there is a sushi place near me what makes a roll called the "seuol train roll" and it has kimchi in it. its really good. how do i leave it out to"sour"? is this safe to do? thanx for all your help everyone this is really cool :)

              1. re: sixshootergirl
                paulj RE: sixshootergirl Jan 30, 2009 08:48 AM

                Check the housewares part of that store. You might find large clay jars. Traditional homes have an assortment of jars like this in the yard, storing kimchi are various stages of fermentation. The new Korean megamart (H Mart) that just opened in my area also sells 'kimchi refrigerators', sort of the Korean equivalent of a home wine cooler.

                Also keep an eye out for the Korea episode of No Reservations. I believe that has a segment on tranditional kimchi making (stuffing a spice mixture between the leaves of napa cabbages, and stacking them in jars to ferment).

                1. re: sixshootergirl
                  hannaone RE: sixshootergirl Jan 30, 2009 08:50 AM

                  When we make kimchi I refrigerate a small portion for myself immediately, because I like fresher, more salad-like kimchi.
                  The rest we let sit out on the counter for about 24 to 48 hours to jump start the fermentation/souring process.
                  Store bought kimchi should already have the fermentation/souring started, but if what you buy isn't sour enough for you, you can leave it out for a while (6 to 12 hours) in a cool, shaded area.

                  1. re: hannaone
                    moh RE: hannaone Jan 31, 2009 08:49 PM

                    I find that the store-bought kimchi I can find in my city is always sold way under-ripe. I have had to leave kimchi out on the counter for 2-3 days in the winter (shorter time periods in the summer) to get the level of fermentation to what I like. I just leave it in the jar I got it in, with the lid on. And I taste and smell it daily to determine if it has fermented enough. But boy does it stink up the house! Hannaone or others, any trick for avoiding the stench?

                  2. re: sixshootergirl
                    bitsubeats RE: sixshootergirl Jan 31, 2009 04:48 AM

                    What Hannaone said. If you want it to sour quicker then leave it out at room temp for a day or two and yes it'll be fine. (:

                2. hannaone RE: sixshootergirl Jan 29, 2009 10:39 PM

                  Here are some recipes to look at, and there are a lot more on my site that you can get to from my profile.


                  1. amyzan RE: sixshootergirl Jan 30, 2009 09:03 AM

                    http://www.maangchi.com/ is a great site, with videos on YouTube teaching Korean cooking. She has recipes for lots of dishes, and is entertaining to watch, too!

                    1. sweetie RE: sixshootergirl Jan 30, 2009 09:33 AM

                      Check out this blog. I found it extremely entertaining. I found it really helpful to actually see someone cooking recipes I have always wanted to try.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sweetie
                        wench31 RE: sweetie Feb 5, 2009 04:10 AM

                        I like this site! Thanks!

                        1. re: wench31
                          amyzan RE: wench31 Feb 5, 2009 01:10 PM

                          You're welcome!

                      2. soypower RE: sixshootergirl Jan 31, 2009 08:22 PM

                        i really like this site for some good korean home cooking...


                        she even does some packaged foods which may make it easier for you to try a few things out.

                        1. k
                          Kagey RE: sixshootergirl Feb 2, 2009 07:49 AM

                          I usually work it this way: go to Korean restaurants, try lots of food. Decide that I need to know how to make a particular dish or three, then look for recipes and cookbooks. I think it's easier to begin in shops with unfamiliar ingredients when you have an idea of what you're looking for. Once I start working my way through a cookbook, the exotic ingredients in the market start to make sense.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Kagey
                            sixshootergirl RE: Kagey Feb 2, 2009 07:54 AM

                            thats a good idea. i know plenty of japanese and chinese places around me but i'm going to have to search for korean. I know there are korean resturaunts around here somewhere i just gt look harder...

                          2. JoanN RE: sixshootergirl Feb 2, 2009 06:31 PM

                            Last March the Cookbooks of the Month were two books by Fuchsia Dunlop, one on Hunanese cooking the other on Sichuan. You might be interested in looking through some of those threads.


                            We ended up having long discussions about what ingredients to look for and how to read labels and posting photos of what we’d bought or finding photos online to take to the stores with us. It was quite a learning experience for many of us and I think most who participated would agree that it was a huge amount of fun. And a lot of us ended up with recipes that we now cook regularly.

                            A few months later we chose a Vietnamese cookbook and many of us had a lot of success with that as well.


                            Choose a cuisine. Buy or borrow a cookbook from the library. Make sure the cookbook has a good reference section and take it to the store with you when you shop. Try a few recipes and see whether or not they work for you. Kagey’s absolutely right. Before you know it, you’ll have an entire shelf of ingredients dedicated to Asian cooking and you’ll forget you ever wandered the aisles in a daze.

                            1. k
                              kobetobiko RE: sixshootergirl Feb 2, 2009 07:11 PM

                              Hi sixshootergirl,

                              Rather than understand all the ingredients or the cuisines all at once, why don't you tell us what you normall enjoy in Asian restaurants (like specific dishes). Then we/you can find the recipes for these dishes and you can purchase the ingredients to make these dishes at the grocery stores. Otherwise you may end up getting a lot of ingredients that you don't actually need (or only need very little which you can find other substitutes)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kobetobiko
                                sixshootergirl RE: kobetobiko Feb 4, 2009 10:06 PM

                                well i have not tried something yet that i dont like :) i'm a pretty adventurous eater and i like a lot of exotic and sharp flavours.

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