You could say I haven't exactly been the kind of daughter-in-law a Korean mother would have wished for.
I can't speak Korean. (I don't think being able to say "kalbi" and "bulgogi" counts.) And while I'm awfully good at eating Korean food, well, making it is another matter entirely.
I'd never attempted many Korean dishes simply because they seem terribly complex — each stew, each grilled meat I sample is always bursting at the seams with complicated clusters of flavors. How could I ever replicate those tastes in my little Brooklyn kitchen? No, no, it was always far easier to just throw in the spatula and hop on a train to New York's Koreatown.
After spending some time in the kitchen with my mother-in-law in Honolulu for book research last year, however, I started to come around.
Since she lives in Hawaii and I live in New York, it's been impossible to keep the lessons going. So I've been turning to a blogger whom I deeply admire — and adore — who's essentially a one-woman Korean cooking school: the irrepressible Maangchi.
Many of her recipes are incredibly simple — foolproof, almost — and watching her videos helps you figure out whether you're chopping things the right size or grilling meats to the right doneness. Recently, I had her to thank for a lovely tofu and seafood stew I'd been craving …