Book Review: “Good Morning, Kimchi!”

Good Morning, Kimchi! is a 128-page paperback, glossy volume, translated from Korean author Dr. Sook-ja Yoon. Part recipe book, part cultural lesson, it serves a great primer on kimchi, the ancient Korean fermented dish. The translator is Dr. Young-hie Han.

What I liked

  • The early sections of the book cover the history, techniques, and equipment used to make kimchi.
  • The recipe pages are well laid out and easy to understand.
  • Beautiful photos of the the finished dishes and of the step-by-step procedures.
  • The “tips” on many of the recipes are very helpful. In fact, many of them could be moved to an earlier part of the book (e.g. “Chinese cabbage and radishes are the most important vegetables in Korea.”) I’m looking at you, Dr. Han!
  • The recipes are divided into two major sections: Traditional and Fusion. The fusion recipes use non-native vegetables such as green bell peppers, carrots, and cauliflower. These recipes are a nod to other cultures and give great ideas on how to prepare kimchi with more readily available veggies (at least here in the United States).

What I didn’t like

  • Most of the vegetables mentioned in the book are native to Korea/Asia, and the Traditional recipes are based largely on them. I had never seen or even heard of several of the ingredients (e.g. the “vitamin” leafy vegetable, and the glue plant or glueweed).
  • In the introduction, the author eludes to an unabridgged version of this book (presumably not translated, as I could not find it on Amazon) which contains 111 recipes! Why hold out on us? I would definitely pay more than $20 on Amazon for the full unabridged version!
  • Many of the recipes are practically duplicates of each other, varying only slightly in one version being the “watery” version of another (e.g. Young Radish Kimchi, Young Radish Watery Kimchi)
  • The translations are inconsistent at times.
  • The descriptions of the various vegetables are helpful (especially because they focus on the native Korean vegetables, which may not be available here), but not every listing has a picture, which would be helpful (.
  • I would love to see another edition to correct the numerous inconsistencies.

Nitpicks aside, Good Morning, Kimchi! is a solid, reliable volume which deserves some space on your fermentation bookshelf.

Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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