Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Mimsy Review: The Art of Korean Cooking

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, May 23, 2001

An interesting book and a very attractive cover, it would make a nice addition to your collection if you need a book of Korean recipes.

AuthorHarriett Morris
PublisherCharles E. Tuttle
Length104 pages
Book Rating5

In the end, “A majestic view has no charm if the table is bare.” Harriett Morris quotes a “Korean proverb” at the beginning of the final chapter detailing dinner menus. “The Art of Korean Cooking” was written in 1959, when Korea suggested “far-flung battlefronts and cold wars rather than the unequivocal pleasures of the table”.

This is a small book, spiral-bound, with an aesthetically pleasing patchwork front cover. A tiny insert on the front page gives the price in both dollars and yen: $3.05 or 700 yen.

The introduction notes that seasonings have sometimes been reduced, “to suit the Western palate, which is not accustomed to the extremely high seasoning so often found in Oriental cuisine”. Sesame is almost universal in these recipes. A “prepared sesame seed”, involving browned and mashed sesame seeds, is called for in most of the recipes from soups to meats to desserts.

Keem-chee gets its own chapter. Keem-chee, also translated as “kimchee” more commonly today, is very much like a spiced sauerkraut. Most of them even call for cabbage: you chop the vegetables, cover in water, and let sit for a few days. It ferments into a spicy, self-pickled snack or condiment, depending on your temperament.

I used the spring kimchee for a party, and it went over surprisingly well! Even the kimchee hater was snacking at it, although the only reason I know she doesn’t like kimchee is because everytime we have some at a restaurant she says it “must be good”, because “I don’t like kimchee”. I’ve never actually seen her not like kimchee...

Except for the “celery cabbage” called for in the kimchee, most of the recipes call for familiar ingredients. They tend to get mixed in non-western ways, however, as in “Sesame Seed Soup” (Cho-kay tang), which calls for chicken, soy sauce, ginger, onions, sesame, cucumbers, eggs, mushrooms, and pears.

The vegetable chapter is generally more prosaic, consisting of interesting, simple recipes using quite standard ingredients. You’ll find fried sweet potatoes, fried onions, fried potatoes, spinach & beef, and any number of recipes that would be at home on any rural American table.

In the meat and fowl chapter, what distinguishes the recipes from Western recipes tends to be no more than the soy sauce and ‘prepared sesame seed’. “Liver Pok-Kum (Kan pok-kum)” is nothing more than liver and onions, but using soy sauce and sesame seed for additional flavor. “Beef Pok-Kum” adds candied ginger to the ingredient list. Coming far second to prepared sesame seed, candied ginger and pine nuts are also common ingredients in these recipes.

Most of the seafood recipes are for fried seafood. The three exceptions are “Boiled Fish with Vegetables”, “Salted Fish”, and “Raw Oysters”.

Desserts includes an interesting “spinach cookie” recipe: the “Cinnamon Folds” calls for wrapping “parsley, spinach, or celery leaves” into a dough while frying. It also calls for a cinnamon mixture of cinnamon, sugar, and prepared sesame seed. Dates are common, a couple of chestnut recipes, a wonderful strawberry beverage and ginger tea, fried honey cakes, and candied fruit fill this chapter with very sweet desserts.

The sample recipe includes a guess: the recipe calls for 1 cup sugar, and the instructions call for adding 1 cup sugar to the strawberries, and then the remaining sugar with boiling water... For the most part, however, the recipes are better tested. I can’t recommend searching this book out, but if you see it at a good price and you don’t already have a Korean cookbook, I think you’ll find it useful and interesting.

Strawberry Punch (Dal-ke hwa chyah)

  • 12 large strawberries,
  • 1 cup sugar,
  • 4 cups water,
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts.
  1. Wash berries, remove stems, slice, and add ½ cup sugar.
  2. Boil water and remaining sugar five minutes and cool.
  3. Place berries in small glass bowls, add the syrup and pine nuts, and serve with a spoon.

The Art of Korean Cooking

Harriett Morris

My cost: $0.30

Recommendation: Nice Recipes

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