Robin Ha’s book Cook Korean! is a fun part graphic biography part cookbook that is sure to inspire anyone interested in learning a new cuisine. Ha was born in South Korea and moved to the United States at age 14. In this book she shares traditional Korean recipes that are at once playful and easy to follow all while sprinkled with stories about her life as a Korean in America. Readers can learn to make traditional recipes that span from simple (Kimchi) to more difficult (soy garlic beef over rice, or bulgogi dupbap). The book is based on Ha’s blog Banchan in 2 Pages which features many of her recipe-comics.
The book is really great for people who want to explore Korean cooking but aren’t sure how. Ha provides so many great tips and background information that anyone could become familiar with Korean cooking by trying out a number of her recipes. It’s also a really great cultural exploration as she explains what it’s like being and eating as a Korean. It comes highly recommended from yours truly.
I became aware of Korean cuisine about 5 years ago when I went to visit my brother in Los Angeles and he took me to a Korean BBQ restaurant where you cook your own food on a grill set into the table. It was such a cool experience that this past year when I went again, it was my singular request for my time there. I have found a few good Korean places here on the East Coast, and I’ve had one not-so-good experience at a Korean BBQ restaurant where the staff cooked the items for us! I look forward to a time when I can try out some cool recipes from this book. Currently, it is only available online through my library. It makes a great e-book because of its graphic nature, and I believe that online cookbooks and recipes are a great use in the kitchen because if you can prop up your mobile device, it is bright enough to never need to get too close or touch/dirty the surface with your hands has you cook. Some people like dirty cookbooks as they show love through use and age, but I often worry that at some point the recipes will become illegible through smears, streaks, and worst– sticky pages!
Ha, R. (2016). Cook Korean!: A comic book with recipes. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press