I met Melinda at my cooking class. I was very surprised to see her chopping skill, and her knowledge of Korean food and even language. I asked her if she has any connection with Korea. She said no, but that her whole family enjoyed Korean food. She told me about her family and her garden and I thought she was interesting so I asked her to introduce herself to my readers. She takes care of her garden very well, feeds her family, and is a professional photographer (here’s her website: www.melindadimauro.com). She’s a modern superwoman! Here’s what she sent me.
My friend Susan, who is also a spiritual mentor to me, is Korean and she introduced me to Korean food almost 18 years ago. I was in college at the time and didn’t even try making it myself until years later. I’d say I’ve been seriously cooking Korean food for maybe 10 years now. I’ve been mostly self taught with some guidance by Korean friends and their Moms.
I was born in PA, but grew up mostly in NJ. I studied to be an Advertising Art Director in college, but have been blessed to pursue my dream career as a photographer. I began my career in NYC assisting many well known photographers taking pictures of everything from fashion, to celebrities, to architecture, to food and even cars. My focus was mainly portraiture and most of my work came from the music industry and advertising. I met my husband in 1998 while he was a touring musician.
I had lots of criteria for the perfect husband one of them being that he had to like kimchi! He craves it as much as I do now. We got married and lived in Los Angeles for 6 years. During that time I stumbled across the Korean Cultural Center of LA. They have these brilliant Korean language classes for super beginners. So, I can speak a little Korean, although I’m not so great at remembering vocabulary.
Now we have moved back to the NY area and have two crazy little blonde kids ages 3 and 5. We live in NJ, but spend a lot of time in NY for work and also because my husband plays guitar for our band at church.
Korean food is a staple in our diet at home. We have a great rice cooker (thanks to my friend Esther) and I even have stone bowls for Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap. My son loves it when I make “salty rice”, which is basically rice with leftover bulgogi, some egg, carrots, sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce. It’s an adaptation of a dish my friend Saenah makes for her children. My daughter prefers plain rice in a little bowl with water. She also LOVES seasoned seaweed. It makes me overjoyed when my kids and husband love the food I make.
I’ve tried lots of different recipes for Kimchi, but was never satisfied with the results. Finally after doing a search online, I stumbled across your website. I was so excited to have such detailed instructions on making so many dishes I love. I use them all the time now. I have a little garden in our backyard and have been growing cucumbers this summer. I’ve always wanted to try cold cucumber soup and yours is the best! It makes me feel so good.
I’ve been trying to incorporate more raw food into our diets. Whenever we are feeling a little sick (which isn’t often) I turn to Korean food too. I make pickled garlic which is an immunity booster and kimchi is really high in Vitamin C. Also, my friend Christina showed me how to make Korean (daechu) dates cooked down with honey and lemon in a tea for a sore throat. Mostly I just love the taste of Korean food and the way it makes me feel. I love using fresh ingredients like when I made your recipe for vegetable pancakes with my home grown zucchini. So good! I tried to grow Perilla leaves this year as well but for some reason they never sprouted. I’ll need to try them again next year!
I’m always learning; that’s why the cooking class was so fun. I felt like I was cooking with family. Can’t wait to see what’s on the menu next!