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The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen Hardcover – August 2, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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About the Author

Marja Vongerichten is a Korean-born former actress and model. At home with her husband, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, she cooks authentic, Korean dishes. She and Jean-Georges live in New York City with their daughter Chloe.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609611276
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609611279
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Becky (in NOLA) TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My family had the pleasure of living in Pusan, SK for three and half years. One of our favorite weekend things to do was get on the subway and just ride, getting off randomly and explore the area. The food was fabulous and different, spicy and fragrant. We would see the older women sitting on curbs rinsing giant bunches of cabbage for kimchi. None of the four of us spoke more than the most basic of Hangul, thank you, please, etc, but everyone was gracious and willing to help us.

We'd stand at the rolling carts eating hot food off a stick or go into little holes in the walls (literally,it would not be unusual to go in somewhere that had maybe three tables and someone sleeping in the back separated only by a curtain) hand over some won and be fed. Half the time we had no idea what we were even eating but it was delicious.

The Kimchi Chronicles bring back those wonderful ingredients, memories, and the unique individuality of Korean food. We haven't had the pleasure of seeing the PBS series yet, but Marja Vongerichten evokes the feeling of Korea in her cookbook. She does an excellent job of explaining the ingredients. The book is full of pictures of finished recipes which is very helpful when exploring a new cuisine.

Chapter one, which is on Kimchee, might be surprising for anyone unfamiliar with Korean food. Kimchee is not just the pickled red cabbage we associate with the word. Marja (not spelling out the last name every single time, sorry) shows how different food works together to make an entire experience, not just a meal.

Okay, so the book's pretty, has pictures, and food in Korea is yummy, none of that really matters if the recipes don't work.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm Korean and come from a long line of Korean cooks. While I am thrilled that Marja spreads awareness of how amazing Korean cuisine is, these recipes don't reflect that. How can she go to the best places in Korea for the creme de la creme of dishes and put the most ghetto, fast food type recipes in this book? Only the McDonald's type restaurants in Korea would serve this. Jean Georges' fusion recipes are great however and I give a star for that. I'm sorry, Marja. I absolutely LOVE your show, it's just super disappointing you could not put the same effort into an equally stellar cookbook. Please don't use ingredients like dashida and 7-UP in your recipes. Good Korean cooking is about the freshest, most wholesome ingredients.
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Format: Hardcover
My husband and I knew how to make three (count 'em, three) Korean dishes altogether--galbi, bulgogi and barbecued eel. We are always expanding our pan-Asian cookbook library, and recently decided it was time to try Korean cooking. After looking through many Korean cookbooks, I decided on this one because a) it didn't look like Japanese versions of Korean food, b) it had some very good-looking veggie recipes, and c) it was under $30. We tried the veggie recipes right away, and were beyond pleased that they tasted very different from our Japanese/Chinese/Thai/Indian recipes. Try the simple but amazing scallion salad, or the carrot/butternut squash slaw. We have also tried the bulgogi recipe from the book. It's...very different from the one we had, which was spicy and salty. This one was earthy and sweet. I do resent the use of cola in the sauce when there's already Asian pear and sugar at my disposal--I feel it didn't add much flavor and I wasted the money spent on cola I wouldn't drink otherwise. The use of shitake mushrooms was nice, though. The sweet and spicy fried chicken was amazing--so amazing that I don't care whether it's authentic or not. So was the corn on the cob w/ mayo and red pepper powder. There's a promising-looking glass noodle beef dish in there, too... At some point we may buy a more upscale Korean book, but for starters I'm sold.
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Format: Hardcover
Written for American tastebuds, The Kimchi Chronicles is a great segue into Korean cuisine. The recipes are simple and easy to follow. While some may not agree with some of Marja's breaking down of certain recipes into their most simplistic and basic ingredients, I argue to say that it is a good thing, in that the core Korean flavor profiles will become well understood by readers/Korean cuisine inductees.

Comprehending basic tastes is integral to being able to produce any kind of complex flavor and I appreciate the amount of care and warmth Marja uses to approach each ingredient and element of the cuisine. Being a biracial asian-american myself, growing up essentially all-american, I also found myself completely relating to her search for connections to her cultural roots during early adulthood, particularly via food. I did much of the same when I was growing up.

Many of the dishes presented in this cookbook are among the most basic in Korean cuisine, while others, by her husband, are somewhat fancy fusion creations. I even got some validation from my wife (native Korean) that the kimchi hotdogs that I had been making over the past few years were not just a product of my insanity, and that there were actually others who thought it was a good idea too. While I enjoyed Jean-Georges' recipes, I do feel that they tended to dominate the cookbook, and I wasn't able to see enough of Marja's cooking. If I were to improve anything in future volumes of her "Chronicles" series, I would recommend that we see more of her recipes, instead of her husband's.

Overall, a very enjoyable cookbook. I recommend it to American and Asian-American audiences who are relatively new to Korean cooking.

(I received this cookbook as a part of my local public radio station's cookbook club)
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