“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
- Cook rice in rice cooker.
- 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.
- You can put other seasoning things. I don’t know what I put in…
- 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
- Use the rice from the rice cooker.
- In a frying pan, add oil and chopped onion with heat. Also, add some smashed garlic.
- Then add other things like chopped bell peppers, jalapenos, green onions, and spam.
- Season as you see fit. We didn’t need to because spam adds enough saltiness.
- Stuff the rice in.
[ 어묵국 (uh-mook-gook): Fish Cake Soup ]
- Boil water with some 다시마 (da-shi-ma), which is some sort of sea plant thing.
- 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.
- Put in some chopped up leeks and peppers.
- 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.