Asian Pickles: Korea Review and Giveaway

Disclosures: There are Amazon affiliate links from which I may make a commission. The giveaway prize is provided courtesy of Ten Speed Press who also provided me a review copy.

I don't know about you, but I'm crazy for Korean food. Frankly, I don't understand why it isn't a bigger deal in America. The flavors are overall quite friendly to the Western palate, with a great balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors.

Because I'm a grazer, my favorite part of any Korean meal is the sometimes dizzying array of banchan, snicky snacky dishes of wee tastes that excited the palate as appetizers, or refresh between bites of tangy bulgogi or a steaming bowl of kimchi jjigae. No self-respecting place would serve fewer than eight or nine, and I've heard rumors of places in L.A.'s Koreatown that lay out as many as three dozen. 

In with the banchan, and insinuating itself into every part of the meal, will be at least one kind of kimchi. I remember a colleague once saying, "nice like rice, icky like kimchi." I couldn't comprehend the sentiment. Kimchi is one of the world's great fermented foods. I routinely eat it as an accompaniment all kinds of foods, or just as a midday snack all on its own. 

For many Americans, kimchi means cabbage. But kimchi comes in many forms, made spicy or not, and from cabbage, radish, cucumber (like the stuffed cucumber kimchi, pictured on the book cover), greens, green onions, celery and more

But not all banchan are fermented and spicy. Some are meant to be more refreshing, like marinated bean sprouts or tender spinach marinated with black sesame oil and rice wine vinegar

Hungry to bring the flavors of Korea to your own table? Lucky for you my pal Karen Solomon (famously of Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It and Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It) has a new e-book out that will get you rockin' the banchan in no time. 

In Asian Pickles: Korea:, the second in a series of Asian pickle e-books (starting with Asian Pickles: Japan; China is already available for preorder) she serves up a veritable feast of kimchi and other banchan, with straightforward recipes that don't intimidate. And guess what? I've got one copy to give away. 

Simply scroll down and leave a comment, telling of a mouth-watering Korean meal experience. I mean it: I want my mouth to water.

And here's a way to get more chances to win: Click here to tweet about this post, or pin this post on Pinterest (make sure the book cover image gets pinned so we can find it). All comments, tweets and pins must be logged by midnight PDT, Friday, April 26.

Congrats to Frank Jones, our lucky commenter!

Still need more convincing? Fine, here's the recipe for the stuffed cucumber kimchi so gorgeously gracing the cover of the book:

Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi (Oi-sobagi kimchi)

Recipe by Karen Solomon

Cook time: About 1 1/2 hrs

Yield: 14 stuffed cucumber bites


  • 3 lbs English hothouse cucumbers or thin-skinned salad cucumbers on the slim side (not pickling cucumbers)
  • 2 Tbsp fine sea salt
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 green onions, roots and tough tops trimmed and outer leaves removed
  • 9 cloves garlic
  • 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 c. Korean chile flakes
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 oz. dried shrimp (optional)

Cooking Directions

  1. Wash the cucumbers and trim and discard the ends. Cut the cucumbers into fourteen 2-inch sections. Stand each piece upright on a work surface and cut an X shape halfway (1 inch) down into each piece, leaving the bottom inch intact. Stand the cukes up in a shallow dish and sprinkle the salt on their bottoms and tops and down into the X cut. Let them sit upright for 1 hour to leach out some of their juice.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Dice the carrot and the green onion. You can do this by hand, or by cutting them into chunks and pulsing about 20 times in a food processor. Transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  3. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, chile flakes, fish sauce, sugar, and dried shrimp. Puree into a paste, pausing to scrape down sol- ids from the sides. This should take about a minute or so. Once smooth, fold the paste into the carrots and the onion.
  4. Drain any liquid that has pooled in the bottom of the cucumber dish, and lightly pat the cucumbers dry with a paper towel or kitchen cloth. Stuff about 2 to 3 tea- spoons of the filling into each cucumber, working to get as much into the center as possible, and mounding a dollop on top.
  5. These pickles are ready to eat immediately, or they can be served at room tem- perature for about 12 hours. Unused portions should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 days.
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