Star quality

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am

I came across Maangchi ( while attempting to make one of my favourite Korean home-style dishes, kimchi chigae (spicy kimchi stew). I first looked for a recipe in one of my many cookbooks, then on YouTube. Maangchi - known to her friends as Emily Kim - had posted a demo that was endearingly amateur. The camera work - it was filmed using a hand-held recorder - was fuzzy and jerky but it showed me everything I needed to know. I found more YouTube videos by Maangchi then clicked on the link to her blog, where the recipes were posted.

The videos are frequently whacky. On at least one she's wearing a bright blue wig. But it doesn't detract from her cooking and it's clear that Kim knows her country's cuisine. She won't win any contests for her knife skills but that just makes her videos more accessible. How many home cooks chop their garlic, chillies and onions perfectly anyway? Also, like many home cooks, she takes the occasional shortcut - using frozen shellfish, for instance - but those of us who have access to fresh seafood can substitute, which can only improve the taste.

The blog gives insight into Korean culture and customs but it's the recipes that attract the most visitors. They include various types of kimchi and banchan (side dishes), grilled pork belly, kimchi pancakes, cold buckwheat noodles, seasoned raw beef, barbecued beef ribs and bibimbap (above; mixed rice with vegetables).