Cookbook review: How an ancient cuisine became a global sensation

‘Koreaworld: A Cookbook’ by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard (Potter, $35)
'Koreaworld: A Cookbook' by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard (Potter, $35).

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

'Koreaworld: A Cookbook' by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard (Potter, $35).

More than a decade ago, chef Deuki Hong and journalist Matt Rodbard set out on a cross-country journey to explore the umami-loaded cooking sizzling within America’s most vibrant Korean communities. From that research came “Koreatown: A Cookbook,” a 2016 New York Times bestseller.

Today Hong, who earned early accolades cooking in prestigious New York restaurants including Momofuku, now runs an ice cream shop and two bakeries in San Francisco. Rodbard, a two-time James Beard Award winner, edits TASTE, the online food and culture magazine he founded, and hosts an accompanying podcast.

They’ve continued to stay on top of the ever-evolving Korean food scene, which has flourished throughout the world right along with K-pop and a litany of Korean TV and movie hits. All are part of a cultural phenomenon known as the Korean Wave, or Hallyu.

Several years ago, the duo decided it was time for another epic tour — this time, with stops in urban and rural areas of South Korea to help them understand the influences shaping the innovations in the United States. Their photographer friend Alex Lau helped document.

“Koreaworld: A Cookbook” (Potter, $35) brings those conversations and observations to life. Recipes push beyond the familiar kimchis and bulgogis to reveal the modern innovations and inspiration supplied by Michelin chefs, food cart operators, YouTube personalities, barbecue masters, vegetarian Buddhist monks, baristas and more. Kimchi brine is frozen into granita to pair with Air Fryer Pork Belly; corn dogs are rolled in ramen seasoning and crumbled seaweed; a buckwheat noodle salad is dressed in a sauce made with gochujang and 7UP.

Instructions are given for dalgona, a popular honeycomb candy that had a role in the hit Netflix series “Squid Game,” with ideas for incorporating pieces of it into lattes or trail mixes.

Throughout these pages, Hong and Rodbard give us a sampling of centuries-old Korean traditions reimagined for diners hungry for exciting new flavors.


6 p.m. June 25. $89 ($104.55 including fees). Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard will join chef Meherwan Irani and chefs Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of Heirloom Market BBQ for a multi-course dinner featuring the flavors of Seoul and Mumbai. Tickets include signed copies of the book. Chai Pani Decatur. 406 West Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. Purchase tickets online at (search: Koreaworld Cookbook Dinner).

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