Recipes for Korean-inspired cooking

Korean corn grilled cheese.
Korean corn grilled cheese, one of several recipes highlighting iconic Korean flavors and ingredients.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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This past week, I had the pleasure of chatting with a friend, first-time cookbook author Eric Kim, while he was in town on a tour for his book “Korean American.” While reading it to prepare for Kim’s talk through Now Serving, a cookbook shop in Chinatown, I found myself dying to make every recipe, each one a playful twist on an American or Korean classic.

In making his Salt-and-Pepper Pork Chops With Vinegared Scallions and Gochujang-Glazed Zucchini With Fried Scallions (two recipes Kim shared with The Times), I restocked my pantry with Korean staples I love, including gochujang, tteok and lots of kimchi. I plan to make more of Kim’s recipes, but I’m also marking several dishes from The Times’ archives inspired by Korean classics.

Grilled L.A. Kalbi is a specific classic; I love its pear-and-maple marinade and how those sweet ingredients help to caramelize and char the short ribs on the grill. While the grill is hot, I’ll also make these gochujang glazed chicken legs, laced with the fiery chile paste that imbues the chicken with immense flavor.

For a friend’s birthday party later this week, I’m making Korean fried chicken, which stays incredibly crunchy even after glazing it in gochujang, thanks to the cornstarch coating that fries up with a shattering crispiness. To serve with it, I’ll make green fig kimchi, but swap out the green figs for some large strawberries or cucumbers ... anything sweet, juicy and a little crunchy to balance the chile stuffing.

And for an easy dinner for one, once the heat wave passes, I’ll make Korean corn grilled cheese, which features thick slabs of sourdough with a bubbling Korean corn cheese mix made with mozzarella and mayo, which is often seen sizzling in a moat next to your Korean barbecue.


Grilled L.A. Kalbi

The traditional Korean marinade for kalbi is sweetened with a blend of pear and maple syrup so that it caramelizes onto the meat. Serve the kalbi over steamed rice and with shiso leaves for wrapping and chiles and scallions for topping. Potato salad is also great on the side.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes

A plate with grilled meat over rice, with sides.
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

Gochujang Glazed Grilled Chicken

Gochujang, a Korean fermented soybean paste with red chiles, gives this grilled chicken a little kick. If you want your chicken spicy, use more gochujang in the salty-sweet glaze. Fresh lemon juice balances the sweetness with tang and also keeps the chicken juicy.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 45 minutes.

A plate of gochujang-glazed chicken with potato salad and kimchi.
(Genevieve Ko / Los Angeles Times)

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Korean Fried Chicken (Yangnyeom Dak)

One of the secrets of Korean fried chicken is to coat it in cornstarch. The other secret is to fry the chicken pieces twice for that extra-crispy texture.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes.


Quick Green Fig Kimchi

Spicy Korean chile flakes and pungent garlic, ginger and fish sauce may seem like an overpowering match for figs, but the fruit holds its own. Slightly under-ripe fruit works just as well as super-ripe specimens, although the latter will produce more syrup to coat the figs after chilling in the fridge for a day.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes, plus 1 day

Figs with a kimchi filling, sitting on a green plate.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

Korean Corn Grilled Cheese

The beauty of this dish is in tasting the sweet corn mixing with the super stretchy cheese. If you want, you can use low-moisture mozzarella, but adding fontina or provolone offers a little more flavor without overpowering the sweetness of the corn.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

A Korean Corn Grilled Cheese sandwich.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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