I read a lot of cookbooks. For the past four years, I have checked out numerous cookbooks from the library. Most have some merit, but rarely are there any that really stand out as excellent. The Kimchi Chronicles is one of the best.
The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen by Marja Vongerichten
What makes an excellent cookbook? I have a few criteria that are important to me.
- Core traditional recipes need to be included.
- Excellent photos.
- Minimal ingredients.
- Minimal steps.
- An overview of ingredients.
- Minimal blabber from the writer about themselves.
- A comprehensive glossary.
- Are you learning how to assemble ingredients or are you learning how to cook? A good cookbook will leave you feeling more confident and empowered. A poor one won’t.
The Kimchi Chronicles is almost perfect. The author goes through the important ingredients to Korea cooking and their different names. Traditional recipes are included in the book along with some new fusion ones. The steps and ingredients are not overwhelming. I made 4 dishes from the book that all turned out great.
Other than the occasional mention of vegetable oil as an ingredient, which annoys me, the only issue I had with this book was the glossary could have been better edited. Bibimbap was not listed under “B”, it was listed under “Main Dishes”. I found that odd. If you are going to use that method at least add “Bibimbap (see Main Dishes > Bibimbap)”.
It is rare for me to recommend a cookbook for purchase. The Kimchi Chronicles is one of them. It feels like more than a cookbook. It is like a took a course in Korean cooking. I am also aware there was a TV show for this book on PBS. I didn’t see it, but if it ever shows up on Netflix Instant, I will watch it for sure.