korean mom cooking, week 1

Last week I set a challenge for myself to cook like a Korean mom.  Here is how it went down.

What I made this week:

♡ 시금치나물
♡ 닭볶음탕
♡ asparagus
♡ 된장찌개 (without 호박 because I forgot to buy them oops)
♡ 감자전

♡ Recipe source♡ 

I used Maangchi for the 시금치나물, 닭볶음탕, and 감자전. The asparagus is a side dish I made up, simply stir frying with olive oil, garlic, and salt.

♡ Favorite side dish ♡

감자전!!! I was worried while preparing the “batter” that I was doing it wrong, and that that there wasn’t enough to hold the pancakes together because the recipe is literally just potato and Asian chives (I used 파) but once they got into the pan and started cooking, they were fine. They were more than fine. They were amazing. And now I can make them without a recipe. Easy peasy.

♡ Modifications I made ♡

I used two kiwifruits in place of the sugar in the recipe for 닭볶음탕.  I prefer to use fruit (and occasionally honey) in recipes that call for sugar, so I determined that two kiwis contained the same amount of sugar as the 1TBS of sugar called for in the recipe. It ended up being a bit sweet, and next time, I will probably use just one. Also we didn’t have enough 고춧가루 (we don’t use 고추장 anymore) so the dish wasn’t spicy enough for our liking.  I did end up using a big jalapeno to make up for some of the missing heat, but it’s not the same.

♡ Final Verdict ♡

As my husband told me it would, preparing food like a Korean mom really made my life easier by taking all of the guess work out of meals. The 반찬 were all super easy to make and very simple, so they ended up tasting clean and fresh for the whole week.  I especially liked that I could control the quality of every ingredient. My husband’s only complaint was that the 시금치나물 wasn’t salty enough, but I don’t like to use a lot of salt in my cooking, so it turned out just the way I intended.

As I had hoped, my he has now been eating more meals at home. It feels great to see him wake up in the morning and without hesitation pull all of the side dishes out of the refrigerator and tuck in to a healthy breakfast.

And just as he had promised it would, the meat dish has lasted throughout the week (I actually feel like I might have made too much), as it was just a compliment to the other 반찬 and not the main feature of the meal.  When I eat, it feels unnatural for me to favor one or two dishes, so I sample equally from all. This causes me to eat more slowly and carefully than before. After I finish eating, I feel full but never heavy. The food keeps me satiated, and I don’t really have cravings for desserts or snacks.  And, most importantly of all, my digestion is on point (you may think this is tmi, but this is a crucial part for me), thanks to the 현미 and all the veggies.

♡ Additional Thoughts ♡

Um guys, there are so many personal blogs on Naver with photo by photo recipes. Especially lots of blogs about preparing baby food. Lots of great resources out there for now and later wink wink. I just tried to find a few good ones to share, and spent all of an hour lost in pictures of delicious recipes.

What should I make next week?


cook like a korean mom

Over the past year, I have been trying to incorporate more Korean food into our diet.  I find that my husband will eat home cooked food more readily if it is Korean (“역시 한국 음식이 최고야~”) and we will both feel better after the meal. Our insides feel very comfortable, and we digest easily.

In the beginning, I was cooking things like 체육볶음 or 돼지길비찜 in a big pot and serving them up as the main course, with little to no 반찬s and sometimes no rice. Well, I actually did have some side dishes, but they were mostly raw veggies and I was pretty much the only one eating them. Because I was offering them as the main attraction of our meals, my husband blasted through these meat dishes, and started eating 컵라면 when we ran out of food (or bringing fried chicken home from the grocery store) and I started getting frustrated.

I’d spend my Sunday in the kitchen doing food prep that was meant to last a week, only to find the food gone by Wednesday. And we are only two right now. What happens when we have a baby? It all seemed so unsustainable.  So I asked my husband what to do…and he told me that for normal weekly meals, most of mom’s work goes into making 반찬.

If you search the tag #밑반찬 or #반찬만들기 you’ll  be able to get an idea of how it looks once it’s all prepared. From the research I did, it looks like most ladies are preparing 4-6 반찬 per week, with one meaty dish like 갈비 or curry or 닭볶음탕 or whatever.  According to my husband, mom makes all those things on the weekend, and serves them up for every meal throughout the week with rice, and then once or twice per week she whips up a simple stew or soup, which last a few days each.

It was like a light bulb appeared over my head and clicked on.

Put in the same amount of work on Sunday afternoon as I have already been doing, and cook a quick soup one or two days a week for a little variety. Since the meat isn’t a main course, but just an accompanying dish, it’s not the focus of the meal, and it will last the week. It’s so much easier than thinking up something new to serve for breakfast, lunch, and (especially) dinner every day. And as an added, added bonus, my husband will scarf up everything I eat happily, because it’s his food, and this kind of 집밥 is the best.


omg you guys.

Ear wax in Korean is 귓밥.

EAR 밥.

Let’s file this away under things I wish I knew long ago. Like back in 2007 when I was giggling at the site of Korean drama characters scooping the ear rice out of each other’s ears

I asked how it could possibly be called 밥, which doesn’t make logical sense to me. I mean, I’m biased, but to me, wax seems a more accurate way to describe it than 밥. My husband said, “밥 goes in, 밥 comes out.”

And that is why we are married.