Judy Joo’s Korean Food Made Simple

Story by Ada Tseng.

The Cooking Channel’s Korean Food Made Simple, hosted by Korean American chef Judy Joo, is the latest installment of a culinary television series that previously included Mexican Food Made Simple and Chinese Food Made Simple. Part travelogue, part how-to guide, Korean Food Made Simple sent Joo all over Korea to gather inspiration, from fish markets in Seoul and the streets of Busan to the small islands off the coast of Korea. (“I’ve been to more places in Korea than my relatives, who have lived there their entire lives!” says Joo.) After exploring different foods around the country, she returned to London, where she’s been based for the last several years, to show audiences how to re-create Korean flavors in a regular home kitchen.

Joo was thrilled when she was approached to do Korean Food Made Simple, as she’s proud of her heritage and has brought a lot of Korean influences to the menu at the Playboy Club London, where she has been the executive chef since it opened in 2011. Some of the dishes that appear on the show — like the Spicy Mussels with Bacon and the Steamed Ginger Infused Sea Bass with Zucchini — have actually been served at the Playboy Club. “We also make our own kimchi at the Club,” says Joo. “And we have a version of the Korean fried chicken in our sports bar.”

Growing up in New Jersey, Joo was no stranger to the local disco fries or fast fixes at Taco Bell, but she mostly ate Korean food at home. Her mother taught her how to cook authentic Korean food, but she jokes that helping out in the kitchen as a kid felt more like slave labor than fun.

“This was when there was nothing pre-made,” says Joo. “So it’d be me and my sister in front of a mound of meat making dumplings. I remember brushing sheets and sheets of dried seaweed with oil, salting them and then having to fry them. Then going to the garden to pick sesame leaves. It felt like chores.

“Also, [traditionally] you’re supposed to cook each vegetable separately to keep it from getting infected by other ingredients,” continues Joo. “And you want to keep the integrity of the color, so if the vegetable is light, you’re not supposed to use soy sauce. But no one has time to cook seven different vegetables separately in one pan to make one dish!” She laughs. “So I say, just cook it all together, and if the carrots are a little brown, it’ll be OK.”

She also shares tips and shortcuts for any home cook who might not live near a Korean market. For example, if you can’t find mirin, a sweet rice wine that is common in Korean cooking, Joo says it’s perfectly fine to substitute Sprite or 7-Up. And if you can’t find thinly sliced beef, partially freeze it and cut it with a knife. “I don’t think that you have to be completely authentic or traditional in order for people to get a good taste of a cuisine,” says Joo. “Food is always dynamic. Food in Korea has changed tremendously in the past years and decades. It’s like languages; it’s always evolving.”

One of Joo’s favorite meals to serve at a dinner party is do-it-yourself kimbap. Instead of pre-rolling the Korean sushi prior to guests arriving, Joo gives each guest their own squares of seaweed and lets them make their own. Joo is also a big fan of do-it-yourself bibimbap, where she encourages guests to choose their own vegetables for the mixed rice dish.

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Judy Joo with Seoul chef and restaurateur Lucia Cho.

Though Joo is now a recognizable TV food personality — she is one of the few who can claim to have been on Iron Chef as a competitor, an official Iron Chef (the only woman in the Iron Chef UK lineup) and a judge — her road to success was a winding one. Born to a physician father and a chemist mother, Joo initially aspired to a career in the sciences and ended up working in banking for many years before she had what she calls her What Color Is Your Parachute? moment and began to soul-search about what she really wanted to do with her life.

“My parents were not thrilled,” says Joo of the prospect of her giving up her prestigious gig on Wall Street. But to contextualize, she grew up in a stereotypically overachieving Asian American household where her parents were also “not thrilled” when she only got into Columbia and not Yale, where her sister went. She toyed with the idea of joining the Peace Corps (“My dad was like, ‘Why do you do that? That’s why I left North Korea!’”), but eventually enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York. Soon after relocating to London with her husband, she ended up working at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant and worked her way up from there.

But it wasn’t until she got into television that her parents started to understand the significance of her new career path. “When I got invited to the Blue House in Korea —the White House of Korea — that’s when my parents were like, ‘Oh, maybe you are doing something interesting and important,’” she says. “That’s when they realized I wasn’t just a line cook, I guess.”

Episodes of Korean Food Made Simple can be seen on the Cooking Channel, and a cookbook with recipes featured on the show will be available next year. 

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Marissa Webb Named Banana Republic’s Creative Director

Story by Steve Han. 

Mega-brand Banana Republic has hired Marissa Webb, a former womenswear designer at J. Crew, as its new creative director and executive vice president of design, it was reported in the Los Angeles Times this week.

Webb replaces Simon Kneen, who was in charge of the store’s design department from 2009 to 2013, during which time the retailer lost ground to competitors J. Crew, H&M and others. Gap Inc., Banana Republic’s parent company, revealed earlier this week in its financial reports that the retailer’s sales declined by 4 percent from the year before.

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Webb was adopted by an American family from Korea at age 4. She also previously worked for Polo and Club Monaco. In 2011, she launched her own eponymous label, a casual contemporary clothing line that is sold at retailers like Barneys New York.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the extremely passionate, talented design and creative teams at Banana Republic,” Webb said, according to the Fashion Times. “This is an amazing opportunity for me to combine my unique vision with a brand that has such a strong legacy.”

Established in 1978 in San Francisco, Banana Republic has more than 600 stores in 32 countries around the world.

Webb’s first collection for Banana Republic will debut in the summer of 2015.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

The Adorable Ye-bin is Back!

Do you remember this adorable little face? We’ll give you a hint. She isn’t afraid of strangers.

Yes, this is little Ye-bin. This cutie became a viral sensation when her video “Mom Tries to Teach Adorable Girl Life Lesson” hit YouTube and gathered nearly 9 million views. During the video, Ye-bin’s mother tries to teach her about strangers and being safe, but we get the feeling Ye-bin is so friendly that she would accept all sorts of sweets from strangers.

This time around, Ye-bin’s mother is trying to teach her how to say the phrase “I am scared.” Simple enough right? As it turns out, even the most simple of tasks becomes adorable with this little girl.

Throughout the video, Ye-bin struggles with the pronunciation of the phrase, but she isn’t bothered. In fact, she’s giggling the entire time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a child say “I’m scared” with such a cuteness.

The video was only uploaded yesterday, but it has already gathered over 30,000 views. Check it out below.

 

 

Justin Bieber’s Korean Tattoos Elicit Mixed Reactions

Story by Ruth Kim. 

Singer Justin Bieber has come a long way from the clean-cut Canadian 15-year-old who wooed teenage girls the world over. The pop star is declaring his bad boy reputation one tattoo after another, and his recent choice of inked art directly appeals to his Korean fans.

The Canadian singer avowed his love for Korea, posting on Instagram on March 25 a photo of his new Korea-inspired tattoo, accompanied with the caption “I love you Korea.” The image reveals a traditional Korean Hahoe mask tattooed in black ink, with his name inscribed below in Korean, 비버, which is pronounced “bee-buh.” Close enough.

Popular Toronto-based Korean tattooist, Seunghyun Jo, inked the tattoos for his fellow Canadian, and also shared a photo of the two on his Instagram. He said, “Thanks @justinbieber for inviting me to your studio! It was a long night of tattooing you but worth it! See you soon brotha you are crazy talented.”

Reactions from fans (and non-fans alike) were mixed. Obviously, hardcore Beliebers were unflinchingly supportive of their favorite pop star, leaving a slew of positive comments on his Twitter and Instagramaccount, like “I love you” and “obsessed”. South Korean fans, especially, are enthusiastic; one Korean Instagrammer commented, “omo yesss South Korea all the way man!”

However, more negative remarks are mixed in, with some fans disapproving of his tattoo spree, pleading him to stop. Others insult the singer, saying he is nowhere near Asian pop star level.

One disgruntled reader writes, “Ugh, gosh. I bet he’s just doing that because everyone knows that kpop is going to be the next big thing around the world and he’s trying to get on the korean’s good side so he can get “positive comments” about him and all that crap.”

They continue, “비버…more like 바보”, the latter phrase translating to “stupid” in Korean. Positive and negative comments aside, let’s be honest—the Canadian pop star had that particular play on words coming.

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This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.

Korean Parody of “Let it Go” Will Be The Funniest Thing You See All Day

The obsession with Disney’s Frozen continues! In particular, the song “Let it Go” is one for the books. It won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 86th Academy Awards. This was a historic moment for the Asian American community because this meant that Robert Lopez, co-creator of “Let it Go,” became the first Filipino American to win an Oscar and the first Fil-Am to join a prestigious group called “Egot” —  individuals who have won the four top entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

Aside from the Oscar, a simple scroll through YouTube makes the success of this song clear. There have been a number of YouTube covers of the song, many of which are from the Asian community, and even instrumental covers.

And that doesn’t even begin to describe the movie’s worldwide success. For instance, the film is now the highest-grossing animated feature ever in South Korea. This means even beloved Kpop stars can be found covering “Let it Go.”

Recently, we came across something else from Korea that caught our attention. During what appears to be a Korean game show, we found the most hilarious Frozen parody ever. It’s filled with fake snow, perfect lip-syncing and hilarious theatrics.

Check it out below. We promise it will be one of the funniest and most entertaining things you watch today.

Designer Handbag Rentals Available in Korea

Story by Y. Peter Kang.

A new service in South Korea allows women to flash the latest high-end handbag without forking over a lot of dough.

MBC reports that a luxury goods rental service has customers depositing their own upscale handbagwith a broker which then entitles them to pick out a handbag for a fee of about $20 to $30 per week. If the customer’s bag is rented by another customer, they get a percentage of the rental fees. If they don’t add a bag to the pool, they can still rent a bag for a higher fee of about $50.

Members are reportedly happy with the service.

“I think it’s a great thing, to be able to change up your bag for the price of a cup of coffee,” one customer told MBC. “It’s fresh and new.”

MBC reported that peer-to-peer rental services were first popularized in the United States following the Great Recession of 2008. One notable example of a P2P rental service that has taken off is Airbnb, a site in which homeowners can rent out rooms to cost-conscious travelers.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Does the Korean Entertainment Industry Place Too Much Pressure? Reality Show Contestant Commits Suicide

Story by Y. Peter Kang. 

A cast member of a South Korean blind-date reality show was found dead of what appears to be suicide on Wednesday as the show was being shot on Jeju Island, according to the Korea Times.

The 29-year-old office worker, surnamed Jeon, was found dead in a bathroom of her room at a bed-and-breakfast inn. The show’s crew reportedly forced their way into the locked bathroom after a fellow cast member became concerned.

Police found a note next to her body which stated, “I am very sorry to my mom and dad. I don’t want to live anymore because life is too tough.”

Shooting for the dating show, called Jjak, began on Feb. 27 and documents the activities of 10 or more men and women who live in a “love village” for one week. The final show was set to be filmed on the day of Jeon’s death.

Prompted by public outcry, SBS said it would not air the episodes in which Jeon appeared.

Many argued that producers often cause excessive stress to those who appear on the show by only choosing good-looking candidates with superior background. Jeon was regarded as an ordinary office worker.

 

“Even celebrities come under a great deal of stress when details of their private life are exposed. The cast members of Jjak are just ordinary people. They can be under huge pressure and stress,” said Kim Ju-wan, a netizen, commented on the show’s bulletin board.

The broadcaster said in a statement, “We apologize once again, and we will do our best to prevent similar cases from taking place ever again.”

 

 

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Traditional Korean Instrument Could Win SportsCenter Contest

Story by Ruth Kim. 

Traditional Korean gayageum player Luna Lee is one step away from winning ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Fan Jam contest.

The “Fan Jam” contest challenged participants to come up with the best original cover of its iconic “da-da-da, da-da-da” opening theme song. The competition began with eight contestants who showcased a variety of talents, from solo electric guitar to beat-boxing.

Lee, who iamkoream.com featured in a Video of the Week playing Jimi Hendrix, is going head-to-head against acoustic guitarist Trace Bundy. The winner will receive a trip to ESPN headquarters in Connecticut to perform as its “house band” for the day. Voters, who can vote for their favorite cover until Thursday on the SportsCenter Facebook page, determine the winner.

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Although both musicians play acoustic instruments, the distinctive sounds each have their own merit. The extremely technically-skilled acoustic work exhibited by Bundy is clean, classic guitar playing at its finest with virtuoso-like finger-tapping. However, the unique and authentic sound of Lee’s gayageum, a 12-string Korean zither, accompanied by a rock-and-roll track, holds its own in the competition.

Lee released her eponymous debut album, featuring music by Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, in November. Check out her YouTube channel here.

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com  

Asians in Fashion: Park Shin Hye Pays Tribute to Audrey Hepburn

The March issue of Marie Claire Korea is certainly one to look forward to. What are we most excited to see? Park Shin Hye’s gorgeous looks as she pays homage to Audrey Hepburn– the film and fashion icon during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Clearly, Hepburn’s legacy is one that has endured long after her death in 1993. In fact, the American Film Institute named Hepburn third among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time.

Although it is impossible to recreate a legend, we are awfully impressed with Park Shin Hye’s stunning tribute spread titled “My Fair Lady.” For the spread, the South Korean actresses reenacts iconic Audrey Hepburn styles from Roman HolidayFunny Face, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Park Shin Hye not only shows her versatility as a model, she points out that she is a force to be reckoned with. The 24-year-old artist has been quickly rising to fame and is most known for korean dramas You’re BeautifulFlower Boys Next Door and Heirs. In fact, her role in You’re Beautiful shot the actress into worldwide popularity.

Check out the beautiful tribute below.

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Korean Couples Take Matching Outfits to the Next Level

Story by James S. Kim. 

If you’re looking for something other than chocolates and flowers to give to your significant other this Valentine’s Day, take a note from what many young couples are doing in South Korea on a daily basis.

The “couple look,” or publicly advertising a relationship by wearing matching outfits, is quite easy to spot on the streets, beaches and cafes of South Korea. While it can be as simple as a matching T-shirt or shoes, there are couples taking it to the next level, curating entire looks that match from head-to-toe, from jackets and pants to socks and underwear.

The “couple look” culture has understandably spawned a sizable market for specialized retailers, according to AFP. Many online retailers sell couple attire for snowboarding, swimming and running, as well as pajamas and lingerie for the more intimate moments.

There is no substantial data to show how well these businesses are doing, but many young Koreans say donning the couple look is a sweet way of showing affection for one another and even showing off their relationship in public. Married couples have also been getting in on it as a way of reaffirming their love.

Needless to say, things can get complicated if a relationship goes south. Articles of clothing are a bit more permanent than chocolate or flowers, but at least it’s not his-and-hers tattoos.

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This story was originally published in iamkoream.com