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Growing up in a Korean Kitchen: A Cookbook Hardcover – August 8, 2001

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Growing up in a Korean Kitchen: A Cookbook + Eating Korean: from Barbecue to Kimchi, Recipes from My Home + Discovering Korean Cuisine: Recipes from the Best Korean Restaurants in Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; First Edition edition (August 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580082815
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580082815
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Korean cuisine is a tantalizing blend of sour, sweet, hot, burning hot, salty, bitter, and nutty, or so writes Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall, author of Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen. Part autobiography and part cookbook, this remarkable work provides a practical introduction to a cuisine Americans have encountered with delight, and a poignant memoir of a time and place in which an average family meal could consist of seven or more dishes, hierarchically served according to gender and family standing (males and grandmas ruled).

Beginning with a scene-setting journey to the author's childhood home, the book then provides a detailed account of relevant ingredients, equipment, techniques, and sauces and pastes (many based on soy beans and red pepper). Over 175 recipes follow for a wide range of everyday and special-occasion dishes, from rice and cereal specialties, including an intriguing fried rice with chicken, mushrooms, and kimchi; to fresh salad and vegetable dishes such as Sautéed Spring Garlic; to barbecued specialties like Fried Beef Ribs; to desserts and confections. A chapter on celebratory dishes, such as the extraordinary, multi-ingredient Celestial Hot Pot, is balanced by a homey section on stews and dishes such as Braised Pork Spareribs. Throughout, Hepinstall offers asides that place the food in its cultural context, variations, and technical information. With an illuminating section on tea and other drinks, the book makes an exciting introduction to a kind of cooking Westerners can now prepare and enjoy at home. --Arthur Boehm

From Library Journal

Although Korean food is poised to become the next favorite Asian cuisine, there are relatively few cookbooks on the subject. Hepinstall's book is both more ambitious than Jenny Kwak's Dok Suni (LJ 11/15/98) and more wide-ranging than Deborah Coultrip-Davis and Young Sook Ramsey's vegetarian Flavors of Korea (LJ 9/15/98). One of 12 children, she provides a personal glimpse of a disappearing way of life as well as a detailed introduction to traditional Korean cuisine (she even includes her family's recipe for soy sauce). American readers may recognize some of the dishes from Korean restaurants, but many will be new. The section on main dishes covers rice and cereals, soups and porridges, and noodles and dumplings, with a whole chapter devoted to kimchi, a signature dish; in addition to side dishes, desserts, and beverages, there are separate chapters on Korean barbecue and special-occasion recipes. Hepinstall writes well and knowledgeably, and her photographs of family and her visits to her homeland illustrate the text. Strongly recommended.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Hi! I was born and raised in Chung-ju, South Korea. I have a bachelor's degree in English literature from Ewha Woman's University in Seoul and a "certificate" from Le Cordon Bleu de Paris, France. In my senior year, my first novel, "The Beautiful Prisoner's Suit" won the grand prize in a prestigious national novel contest. It was published, serialized in a newspaper and made into a movie by Korea's eminent director, Shin Sang-Ok. I married my American husband, Larry, and moved to Seattle in 1962. We and our daughter, Sonya, returned to Korea on Larry's Fulbright in 1969 and for the next 25 years we travelled around the globe according to his assignments as a professor and administrator for the University of Maryland University College. During our life in College Park, Maryland, Heidelberg, Germany, Seoul, Korea and Bangkok, Thailand, we met many different and interesting people and studied their languages and cultures, especially their food culture. I soon realized that people knew little about Korean food and, in fact, I felt Korean food culture was close to losing its identity. I put my novel writing aside to focus on Korean food. Looking for a stage, I hit upon the idea of using my family kitchen of the 1930's and 40's to portray Korea's authentic traditional food culture and way of life. Our three generation family--grandmother, mother and father and we twelve children under several roofs, but in one compound--was a most conservative and sternly traditional upper class family. Our kitchen was like a small exclusive restaurant where our mother, with her servants, plus us girls (including me as a reluctant errand girl who hid in the attic reading and had to be dragged out by the back of the neck into the kitchen). Every meal was elaborately layed out for more than thirty people. We worked in a frenzy to serve our fastidious elders, boys and guests who demanded nothing but the best, served in the proper Confucian manner. I did not realize this nightmare of my childhood kitchen was my first Korean cooking lesson. Today we live in beautiful Rappahannock county Virginia, next to the Shanandoah National Park. We enjoy offering Korean cooking workshops and "kimchi making" and "cooking with kimchi" workshops. Please watch for our kimchi cookbook that will be published shortly.

On my website I have created a revised Index for "Growing Up In A Korean Kitchen." It allows you to search for recipes and ingredients in both English and romanized Korean.

Please visit my website:

Customer Reviews

Will use this book for many of my Korean food cravings.
Amazon Customer
It is true that it may not taste like some other regional Korean cooking, but the techniques described in this book are very very traditional.
Jonathan C. Lim
I love the pictures and the stories that accompany this book.
Saki mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The first word that comes to mind is FINALLY! Finally, there is a Korean cookbook that contains almost every Korean recipe you could ever want. Finally, there is a Korean cookbook that keeps recipes authentic. Finally, there is a a Korean cookbook that I can turn to when my finicky in laws come for dinner! Growing up Korean-American it was hard to get recipes from my mother since as any other Korean-American knows Koreans never measure ingredients! I own at least 5 Korean cookbooks written in English and not one of them can compare to this one in it's comprehensive addition of recipes. There are 164 recipes in this book! In the author's attempt to remain authentic the gamut of recipes runs from the well known to the more obscure for those unfamiliar to Korean cooking. The recipes are fantastic.
This is a book for those who are both serious about Korean cooking and somewhat familiar with the techniqes involved. It is also a great book for those who are looking to fine tune their Korean cooking skills or add onto their repertoire of Korean dishes since after almost every recipe there are suggestions for ways to modify the dish. Just as every individual has a way of personalizing a recipe, the author does the same however, the author's personalization does not detract from the flavor that the dish should have.
I would think that this is not a book for those who are just looking to begin because the book lacks specific technical description of preparation and presentation. It would be difficult for someone who is unfamiliar with Korean food to know what the outcome should look like since pictures of the final product are rare. If you are just starting out or if you prefer detailed step by step pictures and instructions "Practical Korean Cooking" by Noh Chin Hwa is a great book, although not quite as thorough as this one but still authentic.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on December 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Many know Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine, eating it weekly, but few are familiar with or venture to cook Korean dishes. This book should correct this gap. The recipes in this book are influenced by royal Korean cuisine since they are based on the author's "Shin" family traditions, a clan that belonged to the Yangban family. One of 12 children raised in her family's Chongju City "house", she was exposed to many large meals, and celebrations that fed over 100 guests at a time. The book opens with a discussion of the Korean kitchen followed by a 15 page glossary of essential ingredients and utensils. Because these are classic recipes, some are complicated. This is followed by recipes for eleven essential sauces, such as a traditional soy sauce (kanjang) which takes 2 months to ferment. The book has over 50 recipes for main dishes, including 10 kimchi's; pickled cucumbers; pickled ginger; 13 soups, including seaweed, rice cake, and t'ang soups; mandu; and chatjuk pine nut porridge. There are over 80 recipes for side dishes, including seasoned eggplant and spinach; sauteed kelp; green onion salad; and a chilled radish salad (my saengch'ae) which can easily replace cole slaw as an American picnic staple. Stew recipes includes ones for tak tchim chicken stew and ch'aeso chongol vegetarian hotpot. There are recipes for 11 barbecues, as well as kimchijon, pinchajon, and puch'ujon pancakes. The book closes with several recipes for ceremonial dishes, desserts (including sighye punch and hwach'ae soup) and pori barley, ogote, yuja, ginseng, omija and ginger teas. Finally, every few pages, the author includes a shaded box that expounds on childhood, culinary or cultural memories as they relate to the recipe and food staple.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Chris B. on November 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This isn't just a cookbook, it's a good book in general. The recipes become much more meaningful thanks to the author's explanation of how traditional Korean cooking methods are entwined with Korean culture.
I've looked through many 'Korean' cookbooks and never bothered with them because they really covered modern Korean-western fusion dishes, or referred to dishes by their traditional Korean name but gave instructions for very non-traditional preparation and presentation. If you're like me, you want a book that tells you how to make Korean food like Oma and Omanee made. This book fulfills that need 100%. It even goes so far as to tell you the tradional method for making your own soy saunce :)
I'm a complete novice cook (single guy) and, thanks to this book, I was able to make Ox Tail Soup correctly on my first try.
The ONLY negative comment I have is that the pictures are not in color, and none of the recipies show step-by-step pictures or illustrations. Still, the instructions are very clear so it generally is not a problem. But if you really want pictures for reinforcement, I'd recommend buying this book and another one with lots of pictures as a companion.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By jin-robbins on January 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have several Korean cookbooks (okay, I am a cookbook junkie and it is probably more like ten -- and, yes, there are at least ten out there, although many are hard to find and/or out of print, and then there is that whole subgroup of watered down ones written by Western missionaries that are . . . quaint). Until I found this one I mostly used Dok Suni by Jenny Kwak and Practical Korean Cooking (aka The Bible) by Noh Shin-Hwa. Dok Suni is great for a novice and has great stories about growing up Korean American. Practical Korean Cooking is like the Betty Crocker for Korean Food, step by step, and lots and LOTS of glossy colour pictures, but kind of skimpy on personality or writing and is known as the book Korean mothers give their daughters when they get married. Hepinstall's book bridges the gap between these two.

As with Dok Suni, Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen is written with much love and great memories about growing up in a Korean kitchen. Hers is that of a traditional Korean upper-class City household, and her book beautifully covers a comprehensive list of recipes including dishes traditionally reserved for the upper crust and royalty, replete with annecdotes and reminiscences from her childhood in a time and place that no longer exists. As I usually use cookbooks more as guidebooks than instruction manuals, I did not find the lack of pictures or "complete instructions" taxing; if you do, bundle this book with Noh's and you would have the whole package as recipe-wise, the books overlap a great deal, although the formats could not be more different.

I am an adult Korean adoptee whose rediscovery of my native culture began with my love of good, unWesternized Korean food.
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