New York Times staff writer Eric Kim grew up in Atlanta, the son of two Korean immigrants. Food has always been central to his story, from Friday-night Korean barbecue with his family to hybridized Korean-ish meals for one—like Gochujang-Buttered Radish Toast and Caramelized-Kimchi Baked Potatoes—that he makes in his tiny New York City apartment. In his debut cookbook, Eric shares these recipes alongside insightful, touching stories and stunning images shot by photographer Jenny Huang.
Playful, poignant, and vulnerable, Korean American also includes essays on subjects ranging from the life-changing act of leaving home and returning as an adult, to what Thanksgiving means to a first-generation family, complete with a full holiday menu—all the while teaching readers about the Korean pantry, the history of Korean cooking in America, and the importance of white rice in Korean cuisine.
Recipes like Gochugaru Shrimp and Grits, Salt-and-Pepper Pork Chops with Vinegared Scallions, and Smashed Potatoes with Roasted-Seaweed Sour Cream Dip demonstrate Eric’s prowess at introducing Korean pantry essentials to comforting American classics, while dishes such as Cheeseburger Kimbap and Crispy Lemon-Pepper Bulgogi with Quick-Pickled Shallots do the opposite by tinging traditional Korean favourites with beloved American flavour profiles. Baked goods like Milk Bread with Maple Syrup and Gochujang Chocolate Lava Cakes close out the narrative on a sweet note.
In this book of recipes and thoughtful insights, especially about his mother, Jean, Eric divulges not only what it means to be Korean American but how, through food and cooking, he found acceptance, strength, and the confidence to own his story.
Yangnyeom Roast Chicken
Though you could swap a turkey for this roast chicken, in those earlier Thanksgivings when all the teenagers in my family cooked the big feast on our own, we often just roasted a chicken—sometimes two, if the guest list was long. Turkey was expensive and always made us go over budget, and back then we didn’t really know how to roast one anyway, so we stuck to what we knew and what we liked (which was chicken). I won’t pretend that our Thanksgiving roast chickens tasted anything like this; they were usually simpler salt-and-pepper birds. But as an adult, I now find that brushing the sticky, spicy-sweet yangnyeom sauce normally found on Korean fried chicken, makes for an incredible centerpiece bird that glistens red.
1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
3 large garlic cloves, finely grated
SERVES 4 TO 6
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Place the chicken on a sheet pan (the best vessel for crisping up a roast chicken) breast- side up and rub it with olive oil. Season all sides, crevasses, and inside the cavity with salt and pepper.
- Roast the chicken for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the juices at the thigh joint run clear
and the meat reaches 165°F. (Another trick is to just multiply the weight of your chicken by 15; in other words, go for about 15 minutes per pound.)
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, maple syrup, gochujang, strawberry jam, brown sugar, and garlic. Set the yangnyeom sauce aside.
- Once the chicken is done roasting, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the bird to a wooden cutting board and rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Brush the chicken with the yangnyeom sauce and carve.
Reprinted from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Photographs copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.