My dad doesn’t cook much, but he’s got a knack for whipping things up whenever he’s struck with a craving — whether it’s late-night instant ramen with some frozen rice cakes thrown in, or his specialty, kalguksu (knife-cut noodles). He’ll make the dough from scratch, roll it out thinly so it can fold over itself like ribbons, and expertly cut them into neat strips of noodles. I’ve watched him do this countless times, and tried to recreate his technique in my own kitchen, but the noodles have always turned out too thick. While I can’t replicate his kalguksu, he’s taught me some useful cooking tips, particularly for the ingredient that is at the base of any good recipe: onions.
Preparation and planning are key to a Korean kitchen, which is why my parents will occasionally team up after a grocery run to chop mountains of green onions. These get saved in a giant Ziploc bag in the freezer, to be thrown into ramen and stews so there’s one less step later down the line (a Ziploc bag, not Tupperware, works best, so you can smack the bag across a hard surface to loosen up bits when you need a sprinkling). My dad also makes sure to keep a couple of accessories on hand for when he’s dicing yellow onions, which has proven to be one of the most invaluable things he’s ever taught me. He will not shed tears if he can help it, even though he is prone to dry eyes and I have him to thank for passing along those genes to me.