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Cookbook review: The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook

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The best feature of the cookbook is an entire glossary of the Asian cabinet with descriptions of each type of item you might find in it, including all variations of noodles, rice, and sauces. It also explains the different processes of Asian cooking, such as steaming, deep-frying, and stir-frying and the different kitchen implements needed and substitutes you can use. The outlining is essential if you've never thought of cooking Asian food on your own, and proved extremely helpful when I tried two of the book's recipes. 

Here's the account of my attempt to make japchae (or chapchae), a mixture of glass noodles and vegetables including carrots, onions, and mushrooms, usually served as a side dish in Korea. Some background is needed: 

I've never cooked anything very Asian apart from a simple stir-fry, and never thought I'd have a reason to with dozens of options outside my door. But when my family's favorite Korean restaurant went out of business, there was nowhere else to find the same authentic Korean cuisine. Sure, there were plenty of Japanese-Korean-Chinese fusions that offered similar dishes, but they just weren’t the same.

Japchae was one dish that I would always order and which I could not find at any other Asian restaurant. I am absolutely in love with this dish, and missed it so badly that when I traveled to South Korea with three of my friends I was eager to taste it again.

During my time in Korea, we visited the island of Jeju off the southern coast of South Korea. The island is known for its touring honeymoon couples who wear matching shirts as they explore its famous dormant volcano and other natural wonders. My Korean friend's grandparents kindly hosted us while we were there, and every morning we would awake to a full Korean breakfast, featuring mouth-firing kimchi, purple sticky rice, pork with onions, and several other dishes. I couldn't speak to YoungSun Kim, my friend's grandmother, who spent hours preparing each meal, but I was able to utter an abundance of badly pronounced kamsahamnidas (thank yous).

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