The Korean Table book review

I’ve recently been using The Korean Table, a Korean cookbook by Taekyung Chung and Debra Samuels. This book is okay, but there are surely much much better Korean cookbooks out there. (Have you seen Maangchi’s website?) Overall, the book is well laid out and has pretty pictures, but it substitutes ingredients too much.

To try to make the book more accessible, recipes use Western ingredients instead of harder-to-find Korean ingredients. I find this annoying and confusing. I’d prefer if recipes used Korean ingredients, and the book also provided a chart of Western substitutions to use at will. Depending on where you live and with access to the internet, anybody can get any of the required ingredients.

They also refer to Korean ingredients with long, confusing English phrases. For example, gochujang (fermented Korean red chili paste) is called “red pepper paste” in recipes. In retrospect, I know what they’re talking about, but when I first saw this, I started looking through the “Basics” section for a “red pepper paste” recipe. I think the authors can ask their readers to learn a few new words. After all, they are going to come up again and again in Korean cooking.

So… not bad, but not great.

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