When chef Jordan Bourke fell in love with the woman who would become his wife, he also fell in love with the food of her country.
In the book’s introduction, he writes, “Our Korean kitchen is an unusual one, a kitchen found not in Korea, but in London, and with only one true Korean at the helm, my wife Jina, a fashion designer in her own right, but equally passionate about the food of her birthplace. And then alongside her is me, an Irish chef, who somehow found himself besotted with not only the girl from Korea, but also the food and culture of a nation so far away from my own.
“Years ago, when Jina first introduced me to proper Korean food, I was astonished that I had known so little of it prior to meeting her. I couldn’t understand how a food and culture this wonderful could have remained relatively unknown to the rest of the world in comparison with its close neighbouring countries, China and Japan, whose traditional dishes are famous and familiar to us all [...]
“What is fascinating about Korean cuisine is the sheer quantity, literally hundreds, of national dishes, each one being unique to the country, and within that there are numerous regional varieties.”
Nowhere is the difference in these “numerous regional varieties” more apparent than with kimchi. “In Korea the ingredients and flavour profile of kimchi changes depending on where in the country it is made,” Bourke writes.
“Kimchi from the northern provinces tends to be somewhat less salty and a little more watery, and they usually do not use fermented prawns or anchovies in the recipe, whereas southern kimchi will more often than not use fermented seafood as a way of adding salt, and also to give it a more robust flavour.”
The dishes in Our Korean Kitchen (2015) will be familiar to anyone who loves Korean cuisine. There are recipes for kimbap (rice and seaweed rolls); braised rice cakes with cabbage and fishcake; beansprout soup; chicken and potato stew; classic cabbage kimchi; kimchi pancake; buckwheat noodles in chilled broth; spicy seafood noodle soup; soy-marinated crab; sesame, soy and chilli beef tartare; grilled pork belly with sesame dip; pork and tofu dumplings; and pecan- and cinnamon-stuffed pancakes.