Special Sauce: Maangchi on Being the Korean Julia Child
This week’s Special Sauce features part two of my conversation with the online cooking star Maangchi, but first we get to hear from Kenji, who answered a question from Serious Eater Kyle Johnson about whether or not you can freeze the base for his white chili with chicken. Kenji being Kenji, he doesn’t just limit himself to yes or no, but he offers a few pears of food-freezing wisdom, like “Flat things freeze faster and they defrost faster.”
Maangchi and I mostly discussed her new book Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine, in which she wrote that Korean food “embodies generosity, innovation, patience, compassion, frugality, practicality, flexibility, and resourcefulness.” But she also told me about how she was surprised by the fact that people have called her “YouTube’s Korean Julia Child.” In fact, she said, “Actually, when I heard the Julia Child…I didn’t know who she was. I’m telling you the truth.”
Finally, we close out the episode with SE Culinary Director Daniel Gritzer weighing in on making the perfect French omelet. He says that you need the right gear, of course, but it isn’t anything fancy: Gritzer’s omelet-making secret weapon is a plastic fork.
Maangchi on Korean food, Kenji on why the frozen food world should be flat, and Gritzer on the special qualities of a plastic fork. All in all, a fun, revealing, and informative Special Sauce.
You Could Be on Special Sauce
Want to chat with me and our unbelievably talented recipe developers? We’re accepting questions for Special Sauce call-in episodes now. Do you have a recurring argument with your spouse over the best way to maintain a cast iron skillet? Have you been working on your mac and cheese recipe for the past five years, but can’t quite get it right? Does your brother-in-law make the worst lasagna, and you want to figure out how to give him tips? We want to get to know you and solve all your food-related problems. Send us the whole story at specialsauce [at] seriouseats.com.
Ed Levine: Welcome to Special Sauce 2.0, Serious Eats’ podcast about food and life. Every week on Special Sauce, we begin with Ask Kenji, where Kenji Lopez-Alt, Serious Eats’ chief culinary consultant gives the definitive answer to the question of the week that a serious eater like you has sent us.
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt: Yeah, the faster something freezes through, the smaller the ice crystals that form inside it and the less damage it’s going to do.
EL: After Ask Kenji, a conversation with our guest, Emily Kim, aka Maangchi, who has been called YouTube’s Korean Julia Child.
Maangchi: Actually, when I heard the Julia Child, the terminology, I didn’t know who she was. I’m telling you the truth.
EL: And finally on today’s podcast, a teachable moment from the Serious Eats’ test kitchen.
Daniel Gritzer: If you did it well, the omelet will have a smooth exterior with little to no browning at all, and a creamy flowing center of very softly scrambled eggs.
EL: First up, our chief culinary consultant, author of The Food Lab, Kenji Lopez-Alt. And Kenji, serious eater Kyle Johnson ask, “With the best white chili with chicken. Is it possible to make the chili pepper base ahead of time and freeze? We want to make this constantly and eliminating that step would take so much time out of the process.”
JKLA : Definitely. Almost any sort of pureed or roughly chunky cooked vegetable thing you can freeze very well. The way I would do it is I would put it into freezer bags, like Ziploc freezer bags. Squeeze out as much as you can from them. So basically what I do is I leave an inch of it unzipped and then I lay it flat. And I kind of slowly work the air out of that one unzipped corner until the liquid is about to squeeze out and then I squeeze it shut. Then put it flat on a aluminum baking sheet and put it in your freezer. Freeze it completely flat, this lets it freeze fast. It also lets it defrost fast. It also lets you stack it and store it very easily.
But yeah, any kind of sort of vegetable puree, especially cooked one is going to freeze very well. So you can do that with the base for a green chili, you can roast your chilies, roast your tomatillos, puree them all and let’s throw them right into bags and freeze them. You could do it with the base for a bolognese sauce, you can saute all of your vegetables and your tomatoes together. You can freeze bolognese sauce, so you can freeze marinara. You can freeze soups and any kind of pureed vegetable thing is going to freeze with almost no loss in quality.
EL: Got it.
JKLA: Absolutely. That’s a great way to get ahead on your prep.
EL: When you talk about freezing things flat, is that so the structural integrity of whatever you’re freezing is kept?
JKLA: Well, that’s important for something that’s going to lose quality with freezing. So something like raw meat. For example, if I was cooking, if I had a bunch of ground beef that I was going to freeze, I would press it flat into a Ziploc bag as flat as I can so it forms like a square, before freezing it. Because the faster something freezes through, the smaller the ice crystals that form inside it and the less damage it’s going to do. With the vegetable puree it’s not so much about quality, it’s much more about efficiency. So flat things freeze faster, they defrost faster and then they also, they stack more in your freezer so you save room in your freezer.
EL: Got it. Thanks Kenji. Kenji Lopez-Alt is Serious Eats’ chief culinary consultant and the author of The Food Lab. Do send in your questions to Kenji to special[email protected]
And now it’s time to hear more from the amazing Maangchi who has been called YouTube’s Korean Julia Child. How do you feel about that moniker? That’s kind of cool.
Maangchi: Is it interview?
EL: You, yeah, how do feel about being called the YouTube’s Korean Julia Child?
Maangchi: Actually, when I heard the Julia Child, the terminology, I didn’t know who she was. I’m telling you the truth.
EL: So it didn’t mean anything to you?
Maangchi: I had to look it up. I had to look it up. And then who’s the Julia Child?
EL: That’s why, because I read … One of the fascinating things I read was that you don’t read cookbooks. You’d never read a cookbook.
Maangchi: Never, yeah never read it, but these days I read my own cookbook. When I, because-
EL: Well, you have to read them, because you have to check for errors before they go to press.
Maangchi: In my everyday life I’m talking about. So for example, I make some noodle soup, okay. How much soy sauce I use in this? And usually before I studied this I never measure, just like other Korean moms. But because of this, because of my recipes I had to give them accurate measurement. That’s why I started measuring this. My cookbook has, my recipes on my website is very accurate, because I made many, many … It come from the many, many experiment. So that’s why I go back again and then okay, it’s so easy. Easily I can make this-
EL: Yeah, that’s the beauty of the web.
EL: So your new book, Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking arrived at Serious Eats world headquarters recently. And we’ve all been just inhaling it because it’s … First of all, it’s big. It really is a big book of Korean cooking. You weren’t messing around. By the time you started thinking about doing a cookbook, the YouTube channel had taken off, right?
EL: But you didn’t have any method to that, right? You were just like, “I’m doing this thing.” And a lot of people discovered it.
EL: And you became their hero. You were like, “Holy mackerel, how did this happen?”
Maangchi: Yeah. I never expected anything like this. But after I posted my first video, lot of people leave a nice comment, encouraging comments. Wow, you know. So those guys asked me, gave me a compliment, plus also next the recipe request.
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: So I kept doing, so for 12 years so far. And then meanwhile, later just I found out that okay, they needed it. They ask there, “Oh, can you make the written recipe?” So I’m sure that I needed something like a website.
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: So that’s why I made the website.
EL: And one of the interesting things that I read, which sort of I think explains why you love what you do and because you have a very specific purpose in mind, right. You wrote that my job is translating Korean cuisine for a Western audience.
Maangchi: It sounds like already I had some purpose. Actually it’s not like that.
EL: You were making it up as you went along?
Maangchi: Yeah, actually just, I wanted to share my recipes with many people. And because so even, among the Korean, my friends, they love my version of kimchi, they love that. Oh, how do you make it? All of my friends is just to give me a compliment. So that’s all I know. I don’t know anything about French cuisine. I enjoy spaghetti, but I don’t know anything about, but that’s all I can do forever. This is the not teaching English.
EL: It was just being you?
Maangchi: Yeah. Just so you know, that’s why from the beginning, very, very easy for me. So, okay, you wanted the fermented bean paste stew next time? Okay, I make it, you want a kimchi? Sure, kimchi. And so keep making and then … But why, by time goes by I like to make the best of best version recipes. So I do many experiments.
EL: Have you ever thought about why you connect so viscerally and so directly to your audience? Some people have described you as their surrogate digital mother.
EL: And I assume that that’s not something you are trying to do. It’s just a reflection of who you are.
Maangchi: Yeah, maybe they feel my passion and when I … I’m really passionate, when I explain why this is delicious, or why I love this one.
EL: Yeah, you’re not—.
Maangchi: Why you have to make it, okay this is oily, some fried chicken. But once you know while, life is long. Once you know while, why don’t you eat? It doesn’t mean that you have to eat every day. You know what I’m saying? People kind of already know my honest some directions, they seem to enjoy and maybe that’s the reason, but I’m not sure. How do you know?
EL: So you never had any coaching, you never had … You don’t have people?
Maangchi: No, no. Yeah. That’s all decision is made by me.
EL: Yeah. So you were just following your instincts and just being who you are?
Maangchi: Yeah, yeah. Just the showing them what I’m doing. When I cook, honest. Honesty is the best, so.
EL: Yeah. You just kept it real.
Maangchi: Even though I showed them washing thing. When do you wash? I wash my knife and cutting board after that. Otherwise, some people learn from me when to wash. Because there’s some people who are not good at cooking. They just keep cooking and they’re later piles of some dirty dishes. And oh, I don’t know, that’s why I don’t want to cook.
EL: So you taught them how to wash?
Maangchi: I mean, just showing them what I’m doing and then maybe people keep saying that, “This is very good, I can learn from you when to wash, how to do, also how to eat.” Food is, always I show them how to eat in the last scene.
EL: Yeah, and I was struck by something you wrote in one of the books about how you want people to eat mountain style.
EL: Please, define what mountain style is?
Maangchi: When like a soybean sprouts side dish. So we blanch soybean sprouts, and then we add some garlic and some soy sauce and mixture and also sesame oil and sesame seeds. And this is like a everyday side dish for Koreans. So side dishes, when I go to a Korean restaurant, they keep that like a small tiny-
EL: Tiny dishes where there’s like a half inch of-
Maangchi: Yeah, yeah, yeah-
EL: … sprouts.
Maangchi: But people don’t know. So people are really satisfied with this, so you can just only two morsels of a—chopsticks are gone. But Korean style is the mommy’s making kind of a lot. So, on the plate, I put this like mountain.
EL: Right? So it’s really mound, M-O-U-N-D.
Maangchi: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
EL: So mound?
Maangchi: Exactly. And it look more appetizing for me-
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: And more, because I was growing up with this thing, this thing, this soy bean sprouts. So that’s why I love that kind of a style. I don’t like that little small tiny amount. Even the abalone at some upscale restaurant. You go to upscale restaurant, they said, “This is abalone.” They slice the abalone like a thin paper.
EL: Yeah, because it’s so expensive.
Maangchi: When you chew this even you cannot feel there any texture-
EL: You want a mound of abalone.
Maangchi: … because it’s too thin, it’s like a paper, you know? I want a lot with some thick abalone. I want that, you know? So that’s the kind of a home cooking and in restaurant cooking are different.
EL: So let’s talk about the makeup of your audience. You’ve got almost four million subscribers. That’s a lot. Who watches?
Maangchi: From everywhere. Americans are most, like almost a 70%-
EL: 70% Americans?
Maangchi: … is from USA, yeah.
EL: And YouTube generally has a very young male audience.
EL: Is that true for your channel?
Maangchi: Female is a more than-
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: … male, but most the age group is the 18 to 44. So that means that they are real cooking. So those guys are waiting for me to upload my video. So they cook right after I posted this. So my communities, they’re real cooking people.
Maangchi: Yeah, real cooking people.
EL: So you’re the digital mother for all kinds of people?
Maangchi: I don’t want to hear the digital mother you know, it sounds like too old. Sometimes I forget my age. When I talk to my … In their 20s, I feel like 20s. I feel like-
EL: That’s the way you stay feeling young.
Maangchi: Yeah. And then when I visited Korea and I met my older high school alumni and those girls nowadays are like a grandma.
EL: Maybe you’re everybody’s digital girlfriend.
EL: Let’s talk about the new book, Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking. What were you trying to do with this book that you didn’t do with the first book? The first book, which is of course called Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking.
Maangchi: My first book has all kind of Korean paste, stew, and also sauce, soy sauce and paste, the Korean hot pepper paste and bean paste. All recipes inside of my first cook book. Second cookbook is like a more like broad and more recipe, 150 recipes. And my editor Rux Martin-
EL: I know her.
Maangchi: She’s an amazing lady. She’s an amazing lady.
EL: I like her too.
Maangchi: I owed her whole this thing, my life-
Maangchi: … because she made me make this cookbook, encouraged me this make this cookbook.
EL: She’s a publishing friend?
Maangchi: Yeah. With my agent Janice. So these two ladies are very important in my life. And this book is … I just told her, she come up with this idea, “Maangchi, you’ve got to make a new book.” So first I was, “No,” because I knew that what will happen, for a couple of years I will be living in the kitchen. I don’t meet many people, no time. Because I have to focus on making recipes also for cookbook, too much work, so.
EL: You essentially had two full time jobs?
Maangchi: I was reluctant, but by time goes by, I decided to, because I have so many things to say more. So one of the things is a dosirak. Dosirak is a Korean lunchbox. So I used to make this for my family and I used to make four lunchboxes. Can you imagine every morning? Four lunchboxes for my husband, for my son two lunchboxes. Actually, the second one is a dinner box. In Korea children studies until late night. So they had to make a dinner box. My daughter, I had to make four lunchboxes. So years, years, I’m making a lunchbox, I wake five o’clock in the morning. So I told Rux, “I can make one totally, one devoted, one cookbook which is dosirak, lunchbox.”
EL: Just the lunchbox?
Maangchi: Yeah. And then she said, “Oh, how about the temple cuisine, Korean temple cuisine.” Even I didn’t know much about temple cuisine. She said, “Oh, Maangchi, we’re going to make some encyclopedia like a big book. And then I was just thinking, thinking, “Okay, for the people who really want to learn about Korean cooking, maybe first I should make that some kind of a more thicker, thicker book, and more information. And so this photo, but this book is a good thing about this book is, my publisher allow me to post so many photos. So for as a thousand photo I took by myself.
EL: You take your own photos?
EL: Like Kenji, Kenji takes all his own photos.
Maangchi: I don’t know who Kenji is by the way. New York Times, the columnist. You said that?
EL: It’s a first on Special Sauce, that’s great.
Maangchi: And then the photo, but this book’s difference is that process a kind of a direction, step by step photo. I gave them my 10 photos, and then eventually I have to choose it. You are not going to miss this one. People, even without watching video, they have to all follow these instructions so easily. So let’s post this, so they really respect my idea. So, so many photos are here, colorful you’ll see it. And also I added some Korean word there. So for example, so when my readers say, “Okay, I’m going to make their Korean kimchi stew. Okay, she said, the hot pepper flakes, gochugaru. But when they go to Korean grocery store gochugaru is a … How can I say? But all written in Korean.
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: So I realized that I should give them the Korean word and also my publisher accepted that idea. So we did it. And also temple cuisine. I went to Korean temple, I visited the Korea like last year, I stayed in the Korean temple.
EL: So this is where your scholar background came in handy?
Maangchi: Yeah, I studied there, studied.
EL: So you wrote in the book that, “Above all I want this to be a user friendly book that will satisfy all your cravings.” That about takes care of it. We can end this right now, because we all want user-friendly books that will satisfy all of our cravings. But that sort of addresses the bigness that you’re talking about, right?
Maangchi: Yeah. And also from my first book, kind of by just the soup, stew, kind of categorized. But this book is that, people are usually … People who buy Korean cookbook is that already they are great cook-
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: … in different culture. So, “Oh, Korean barbecue the other night I had.” So okay Maangchi, this lady has a Korean barbecue, but instead of keep checking that, the cookbook, dig in the cookbook. Okay. I go to the chapter, meat chapter, Korean barbecue, boom coming out.
Maangchi: So it’s just that that’s why I was thinking that for the people who learn Korean cooking with my book, instead of watching my video. Mainstream people who don’t come to videos, I want it to grow then, yeah.
EL: So you also wrote that Korean food embodies generosity, innovation, patience, compassion, frugality, practicality, flexibility and resourcefulness. That’s a lot of stuff. And I think you’re kind of an ambassador for Korean cooking, like you want the whole world to discover and experience the same excitement you get from cooking and eating Korean food. Is that correct?
Maangchi: Thank you so much for saying that-
EL: But it seems like when I read the books and read all the other stuff and watched your videos like that’s your thing.
Maangchi: Yeah. Thank you. Just I show them what I’m doing, following me or not, that’s their option.
EL: Give us three recipes that someone absolutely has to make that will get them to experience Korean food and feel the same way you do about it.
Maangchi: Number one, kimchi.
Maangchi: Yeah, because for 12 years I’m running my business and the YouTube video, I realized that my readers, they started with a small portion of a kimchi. They always ask for, “Can you make a small batch of kimchi?” But these guys, now they make 10 pounds or 20 pounds of kimchi. Why? Not only kimchi’s a side dish, but also with the kimchi, they can make kimchi stew, kimchi soup, steam the kimchi, all kinds of side dishes. They add the kimchi to even in hamburger and hotdog.
EL: There are many different kinds of kimchi. Kimchi is not a single dish.
Maangchi: All different. Regionally they have their own version of kimchi recipes.
EL: Yeah, there are a number of kimchi recipes in the book, right?
EL: And which one would you have people start with?
Maangchi: The cabbage kimchi.
EL: Cabbage kimchi.
Maangchi: Cabbage kimchi is Napa cabbage, made with Napa cabbages. This is the queen of kimchi.
EL: The queen of kimchi?
Maangchi: Yeah, if you have to make one kimchi and keep in the refrigerator, it should be this.
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: Because you can use steam. You can use braise the kimchi, all kinds of dishes, just with that one kimchi. Yeah.
EL: Two more dishes besides kimchi.
Maangchi: I like to say that for somebody who learn Korean cooking for the first time and, “Wow, kimchi too much a headache, I can buy. But what else can I have?” It’s like a pan fried tofu.
EL: Pan fried tofu?
Maangchi: Tofu, with a soy seasoning sauce. Pan fried tofu is, because I have seen there’s so many people love it. And they said they couldn’t believe it. Whenever I do the meetup, New York meetup, LA meetup with my readers, they bring the pan fried tofu with the seasoning, soy seasoning, soy-scallion seasoning sauce, and that’s always popular. So I thought there’s some people don’t likely know kimchi, but everybody loves this dish. So basically you slice your tofu and-
EL: And it could be tofu that you get in your supermarket?
Maangchi: Yeah, yeah, any tofu. Even these days tofu is sold everywhere. You slice this and just pan fry-
EL: Just pan fry?
Maangchi: … with some cooking oil and until golden brown both sides, and that’s it. And then seasoning sauces, a chopped scallion and garlic and little bit sugar, it depending on your taste. And just hot pepper flakes, if you don’t have hot pepper flakes, skip it and sesame oil, sesame seeds, and mix it together and drizzle this on top. Boom, boom, boom, delicious.
EL: That’s it, boom, boom, boom, delicious. I like it. That’s going to be the title of your next book. “Boom, boom, boom, delicious”.
Maangchi: Oh, thank you for giving me the name, but I don’t want to make a third book, ho-ho. Too much work.
EL: You just feel that way now. Everyone feels that way after they finished book and then you’ll … I’m sure Rux Martin will have you write another book. So third recipe.
Maangchi: Third one is Korean fried chicken.
EL: Korean fried chicken?
Maangchi: Yeah, Korean fried chicken, everybody loves this.
EL: And what makes Korean fried chicken, Korean fried chicken?
Maangchi: It’s a double fry-
EL: Because it’s a Southern style.
Maangchi: Okay, double fried.
EL: Double fried?
Maangchi: Yeah, double fry and very crunchy. If a chicken is not crunchy, that’s not Korean fried chicken. And also coating, usually we use a coating sauce, depending on who you are and they want to make a kind of a special version. And my sweet crunchy chicken called the Dakgangjeong. This is I learned from Gyeongsang province. I told you, I went to America in a missionary Columbia in a padlock party with old Korean expats and the lady from Gyeongsang province, she taught me how to do. Because of one of the dishes I had that was amazing. So I had to learn. All my recipes are like that, I have to learn this thing. So how-
EL: So it’s twice fried. So you put it in the wok with the oil?
EL: You fry it once?
Maangchi: Yeah, you need to batter with some-
EL: Yeah, you batter it, you fry it.
Maangchi: … some potato starch, yeah. First fry around 10 to 12 minutes fry, you know. And then they’re crunchy, looking very light brown crunchy. And usually people stop cooking, but no, don’t deceive. Because inside is not-
EL: Got it. So the second fry is what gets it crunchy and brown?
Maangchi: Yeah, crunchy and brown inside, deep inside even bones are, they’re all cooked thoroughly and meanwhile, make sauce. Sauce is, I use soy sauce and also some chili, dry chili. But dry the chili doesn’t give us a spiciness. It just only gives us a flavor, a little bit flavor.
EL: And ketchup, do you use ketchup?
Maangchi: Oh, there was a different style.
EL: Oh that’s a different one.
Maangchi: Different version. So this Dakgangjeong is kind of-
EL: Got it. It is from a certain part of South Korea that you’re from?
Maangchi: Yeah. That is my number one video view recipes in the world, that I got now 1.5 million views.
Maangchi: Yeah. And lot of stories I’m learning from my readers they made.
EL: What’s next Maangchi? Is there like a TV show in your future? Is there going to be like a Maangchi cable network? Are you just going to keep on keeping it real on YouTube?
Maangchi: Can you help me?
EL: That’ll cost you some consulting money.
EL: No, it’s funny about YouTube people, because they usually want to do a television show, but it often doesn’t work. It’s like there’s a certain environment for you to that the videos make sense and it doesn’t necessarily convert to a regular television show format.
Maangchi: You are right. Because there, first, most important for me now is my viewers and my readers. These guys love me. They love my recipes. I really appreciate it. I’m so blessed, because every morning I check their comments and comments almost 99% is good.
EL: Wow. So you get very few trolls.
Maangchi: Oh my God, I don’t have any troll.
EL: No troll?
Maangchi: I don’t have any trolls. Sometimes like racism, is okay. Even racism is okay, you know. So many people like it. So those guys are … I love with these guys, they really interact all the time. And these guys consider me as their relative, and me too. So I even, I had never seen their face, but, and they-
EL: Right, and you won’t get that level of connectivity on television.
Maangchi: Yeah. So that’s why I like to keep doing whatever I do. Unless I’m, as long as I’m conscious.
EL: Right, as long as you’re conscious. That’s good, I like that.
Maangchi: And then I will keep doing.
EL: So now it’s time for the Special Sauce all you can answer buffet. You can take your time with these answers. So who’s at your last supper? No family allowed. Some people have said, President Obama, or Michelle Obama.
Maangchi: Oh, President Obama?
EL: You want President Obama?
Maangchi: Oh yeah. I’m so honored.
EL: Three more people besides President Obama.
Maangchi: President Obama, Michelle Obama-
Maangchi: And also my husband.
EL: No, you can’t have your husband.
Maangchi: Sorry, sorry.
EL: No husbands allowed.
Maangchi: And Rux.
EL: Rux Martin, your editor?
EL: All right, that’s good. One more person.
Maangchi: Can you give me one more?
Maangchi: Janice, my agent.
EL: Janice, your agent-
Maangchi: I told you.
EL: This is too insular man, we need to go beyond your agent.
Maangchi: Can I do one more. Can I do one more? The president of YouTube.
EL: The president of YouTube.
Maangchi: I’m very loyal person by the way. So I never forget.
EL: What about like Jean-Paul Sartre or Rembrandt or any of those people?
Maangchi: Oh. And I don’t know much about them. Some people really directly influenced to my life. So I like to be able…
EL: That’s good. So what are you eating?
Maangchi: I’m eating Korean meal.
EL: That’s not a surprise.
EL: So would you be eating like a pancake and some Korean fried chicken and some kimchi?
Maangchi: Kimchi is always in my refrigerator. Before kimchi runs out, I got to make new batches of kimchi. Otherwise I feel so uncomfortable, even when I cannot come here comfortably. Oh I’ve got to make a kimchi. But anyway, kimchi and maybe today I’m going to make a noodle soup, so-
EL: Noodle soup?
Maangchi: Noodle soup, because I have a delicious anchovy kelp stock in my refrigerator. I would just boil my thin wheat noodles. And I will chop some of my kimchi.
EL: So they’ll have kimchi, noodles, anchovy, kelp did you say?
Maangchi: Anchovy kelp stock.
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: So today’s a little chilly. So I feel like some Korean noodle soup.
EL: All right, that’s good.
Maangchi: And then just I will kind of make it chewy noodles and pour the hot delicious savory stock on top. And then chop the kimchi, mix it with your hot pepper paste and green onion and sesame oil and then mix together on top.
EL: God, sounds delicious.
Maangchi: Oh, my god, so delicious. Let’s go together to my house.
EL: I’m ready. So anything for dessert?
EL: Anything for dessert?
Maangchi: Dessert is I, every morning I eat a green smoothie, so … And just I don’t worry about too much like vitamin things-
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: But I usually eat the fresh … Like these days I love the peach.
EL: Peach, just a perfect peach.
Maangchi: Yeah, and delicious-
EL: I like a perfect peach too.
Maangchi: Yeah. And also sometimes I eat cheese by the way.
Maangchi: Yeah cheese, kind of a creamy, brie cheese, and smelly cheese. I love cheese and mostly fruit.
EL: What do you cook when there’s nothing in the house to eat?
Maangchi: Again, I got to go back to my kimchi, right? I told you. I make rice, white, fluffy rice. And then kim, kim is the Korean’s seaweed paper, black seaweed paper. Always freezer, in the freezer.
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: And then I take just the toast on the stove, gas stove and crunchy, make it crunchy and little bit green color, and smell so good. And then I put my warm rice over the-
EL: That sounds really good.
Maangchi: … spread the rice and kimchi, my kimchi, and I chop it up and they put the kimchi over there and sesame oil one drizzle. And sesame seed sprinkle and then roll it up. And then just says, bah, eat it, if I’m busy.
EL: So I forgot to ask you at your last supper of the all these Korean specialties with the Obamas and Rux Martin and your agent and the president of YouTube, what are you listening to?
Maangchi: I love all kinds of jazz music.
Maangchi: Yeah, jazz music.
EL: So like Charlie Parker, Count Basie, John Coltrane, Miles Davis.
Maangchi: Actually, I don’t know exactly the certain name, but I will … my Google, I just say, “Hey, play the jazz music.”
EL: Oh, you just tell it?
Maangchi: What is it? It’s Google Home. I have Google Home at home-
EL: It’s a smart speaker, you just say, “Play jazz,” and it did.
Maangchi: Yeah, jazz. Also piano, jazz music.
EL: Got it.
Maangchi: I love it. And then just keep listening. Yeah, that’s it.
EL: So it’s just been declared Maangchi day all over the world. What’s happening on that day?
Maangchi: They miss there, I’m so popular.
Maangchi: I’m so popular?
EL: Yeah, you’re so popular. Well actually, it’s possible that it could be declared Maangchi day all over the world. But what would be happening on that day?
Maangchi: Probably I will still be making recipes.
EL: You’d be cooking for the world?
Maangchi: Yeah. I mean people, as long as the people love my recipes, I’ll keep making and then make them eat my food and share my food too with their family and friends.
EL: And so would everybody else just be waiting for you to finish cooking, or would they be cooking too?
Maangchi: Yeah, they will cook and they share their food with their-
EL: Got it, got it.
Maangchi: … family and friends and so everybody’s happy thanks to the food, you know?
EL: Yeah. I love it. Thank you so much for sharing your special sauce with us Maangchi.
Maangchi: Thank you.
EL: So do check out Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking and join the millions of curious folks who have fallen in love with Maangchi and her food who watch her YouTube videos. And again Maangchi, thank you for gracing us with your presence.
Maangchi: Thank you so much.
EL: Now it’s time to head over to Serious Eats’ test kitchen to discover what our managing culinary director Daniel Gritzer is cooking up. No need to take notes, details of Daniel’s recipe are at seriouseats.com.
Daniel Gritzer: A lot goes into making a perfect French omelet. That’s why French chefs used to ask prospective cooks to make one as a test, since an omelet alone can reveal a cook’s real worth. You can master this skill, here’s how. Start with the right gear. You need a pan in absolutely perfect condition. In old French kitchens, that’d be a carbon steel skillet. But today, nonstick works great. For a three egg omelet an eight inch skillet is what you need. A scratched or damaged skillet is not going to work here, because the eggs are going to stick and ruin your omelet.
You’ll also need a fork. You can use a metal one, but a plastic fork will be more gentle on your nonstick skillet’s surface. Beat three eggs with salt just until no traces of whites remain. A lot of people say not to add the salt until the last minute, but they’re wrong. Adding it in advance helps keep the eggs tender. Meld a pat of butter until foamy, but not browned. In the most classic method, you do this all over high heat, but until you’ve mastered the technique, moderate heat is the way to go.
Now add the eggs and begin stirring rapidly with a fork, making sure its tines are pointing up. Quickly work the fork all over the skillet in rapid circles while shaking the pan with the other hand. The more you agitate the eggs, the more you’ll get tiny curds that are custardy and creamy, not big and fluffy. Pull any wispy edges back into the eggs as you go. You want to stop scrambling right when the eggs are custardy and nearly set, but not so cooked that they break apart into actual scrambled eggs. Give them another few seconds over the heat. Then lift the skillet using an underhand grip on the handle and roll the omelet down over itself.
If the eggs are still a little loose, you can hover them over the heat like this for a few extra seconds to help set them more. Now use the fork to gently lift the bottom lip of the omelet, sealing it shut. Roll the omelet out onto a plate, adjusting it so the seam is on the bottom. If you want, you can use a clean towel to fix the omelets form a little more. The ideal shape is sometimes described as cigar or almond like, meaning wider in the middle and then evenly tapering at each end. If you did it well, the omelet will have a smooth exterior with little to no browning at all and a creamy flowing center of very softly scrambled eggs.
EL: Our managing culinary director Daniel Gritzer. Again, the details of this recipe are at seriouseats.com. And that’s our program for this week. Next time Kenji will return to answer your question the week with his usual scientific precision. And back to culinary school, also known as Serious Eats’ test kitchen. And as always, a conversation with our special guest. I’m Ed Levine, so long serious eaters. We’ll see you next time.
All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy.