Before Da-Hae and Gareth West, the husband-and-wife authors of the new book, “K-Food: Korean Home Cooking and Street Food,” decided to write a cookbook, they first opened Busan BBQ, a street food business selling Korean bulgogi hamburgers in London. Which, these days, is probably a better way to break into the cookbook business than many. Before the street food business? The couple went to school together, got married and then traveled to Korea (where Da-Hae was born) on their honeymoon, where they had a memorable meal — at a Korean McDonald’s. Because in Korea, they serve bulgogi burgers at McDonald’s, which the pair missed so much at home in London that they decided to start making, and selling, their own. Fiat business. Fiat cookbook.
Maybe because of this trajectory, “K-Food” is a very user-friendly book, loaded with tips and how-to’s, numbered step-by-steps and colorful photography, much of it of street food in Korea. The recipes are as engaging as the writing, with popular Korean dishes (budae jjigae, or Army base stew) and lots of casual cooking (many versions of ramyun, or instant noodles). If you’re the kind of person who loves the seriously addictive Korean red chile paste gochujang in everything and kimchi in your mac-and-cheese and French fries, this is the cookbook for you. But it’s not just mash-up dorm food. The Wests also tell you how to make mandu from scratch (including the dumpling wrappers), and provide many recipes for kimchi, sauces, stocks and knife-cut noodles, as well as primers on meats for the grill. Thus there’s a recipe for sam gye tang, or chicken and ginseng soup, but also instructions for kimchi Bloody Marys and gamja weiners — deep-fried hot dogs wrapped with shoestring fries on a stick. Imagine the dinner party.
Cookbook of the week: “K-Food: Korean Home Cooking and Street Food” by Da-Hae and Gareth West (Mitchell Beazley, $24.99).