“Please don’t cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook myself, and cook better than I cook, if you see what I mean.” 

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


Today’s Art of Manliness assignment was to make a meal, which is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

For my entire life, I have lived with a mother and a grandmother who are super-skilled cooks, take pride in their cooking, and are quite passionate about the family being well-fed with high-quality Korean cuisine.  Thus we never ever skip any meal, and a typical meal at our house consists of  rice + soup/stew + main dish + at least 3 kinds of Kimchi + other vegetable side dishes.  For the past 3 years we have used 3 full-sized refrigerators (we recently cut back to only 2), always jam-packed with Korean side dishes and other sorts of ingredients.

At such a household, I never had to cook on my own.  I’m not incapable of cooking, but I don’t consider myself a cook.  Therefore, it is one of my biggest worries that I would one day marry a woman who can’t cook, or at least can’t cook legit Korean food.  Then to save the food of my people from extinction, I need to learn how to cook before it’s too late.

My mom agreed to teach me how to make 유부초밥 (yoo-boo-cho-bab) and 어묵국 (uh-mook-gook).  The former is from Japan I believe, but it’s still popular among Koreans.  It’s a type of sushi where you have a cover of fried tofu, and stuff it with seasoned rice.  The latter is soup made from fish cakes.


Since I was just doing as mom said, I can’t provide quantitative details.  But here’s the basic idea:

[  유부초밥 (yoo-boo-cho-bab):  The rice-inside-fried-tofu-cover-thing  ]

A)  Vinegared Rice Version

  1. Cook rice in rice cooker.
  2. In a mixing bowl, put in some sushi seasoning vinegar mixture.  We used a bottle that already had the right mixture of vinegar, sugar, and salt.
  3. You can put other seasoning things.  I don’t know what I put in…
  4. Open the fried tofu cover thing, and stuff the rice inside.  Our tofu cover came in a seasoned pack from the store.

B)  Fried Rice Version

  1. Use the rice from the rice cooker.
  2. In a frying pan, add oil and chopped onion with heat.  Also, add some smashed garlic.
  3. Then add other things like chopped bell peppers, jalapenos, green onions, and spam.
  4. Season as you see fit.  We didn’t need to because spam adds enough saltiness.
  5. Stuff the rice in.

[  어묵국 (uh-mook-gook):  Fish Cake Soup  ]

  1. Boil water with some 다시마 (da-shi-ma), which is some sort of sea plant thing.
  2. Put in the fish cake.  For cleaner soup, my mom said first steep them in hot water to wash off some of the fat.  Then I can move the fish cake into the boiling broth.
  3. Put in some chopped up leeks and peppers.
  4. Season with some smashed garlic, soy sauce and salt (and MSG-derived powders…)


So… that was my very bad explanation of what we did.  It was still 70% mom and 30% me, so everything tasted pretty good.  I don’t particularly enjoy cooking (I like doing the dishes instead), but it was good to learn.

Simeon Koh