Kimchi, 2 ways

Kimchi - Final 2

The best part about the holidays is getting to spend time with family, and one of the best parts about spending time with family is watching my mother move around the kitchen, settling herself into the most uncomfortable looking positions for great lengths of time, prepping massive amounts of food, often with at least three things going on the oven, stove, and microwave. She is a juggler in the kitchen, an army general in food prep, a master of cooking, and terribly generous with her time, energy, and culinary talent — especially when it comes to feeding her family all their favorite foods. When she learned that my sister and I were coming for Christmas, she promptly went out and bought ten pounds of short ribs for galbi, duk-gook and mandu for duk-gook soup, and made a vat of my favorite Korean spicy stew.

The staple to every meal in a Korean household is kimchi, and this year I had the pleasure of watching my mother make tons of it to hand out as holiday gifts to her friends. There are many ways to make kimchi, of course, but we are kimchi snobs and know our good kimchi from our bad.

Needless to say, my mom makes very good kimchi.

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Korean Rice Cake Soup

Korean Rice Cake Soup

New Year’s is sort of, kind of one of my favorite holidays. Though I suspect this is not a unique line of thinking, everything just feels like a new start. Tabula rasa. New Year’s resolutions and all that.

(I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore–I’ve been down that road too many times before.)

When I was little, holidays always meant presents, presents, presents, materialistic little creature that I was (and still, just a little bit, am). These days, holidays are all about food, food, food, and New Year’s just so happens to serve up my favorite holiday meal.

All of my best food memories seem to involve my mother, who is still the best cook I know. Growing up with a mixed Korean-American heritage, I got to sample flavors and spices that most of my peers did not, so the most memorable dish of my mother’s that stands out to me is, naturally, a Korean one: ddeokguk, or, simply translated, “rice cake soup.”

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