It was so funny..me and the BF are a big fan of the Neighbourfood Market in Amsterdam, so we are loyal visitors. About 2 months ago we were visiting again and I saw this girl cooking, making Mandu’s aka Gyoza’s aka Potstickers, but then Korean style. Hmmm..I asked her a few questions and wanted to know if she would be up to me interviewing her on Korean food. She said yes and while saying yes, she called out the BF who had turned away and it was just too funny. They were colleagues..Hah!…so thats how it all started and oke I will stop talking and let Nathalie take over. Oh and at the end of this post, you’ll find more details about the GIVE AWAY.
Profession: Campaign manager @ G-Star RAW
Tell me about how 20koreanen.nl started. When, where, why?
In 2006 I met my biological Korean family (I was adopted from South-Korea in 1983) for the first time and immediately fell in love with Korean food. I never tasted anything Korean before and the flavors were mind blowing. Once I was back in Holland, I could not believe that it was so difficult to find Korean food in a city like Amsterdam. From that moment on, I contacted other adopted Koreans that shared the same love for Korean food. I decided to share their stories and Korean recipes in a book called ’20 Koreans cook Korean’ (in Dutch ’20 Koreanen koken Koreaans’). I started by documenting stuff, putting my thoughts in to writing, approached a few publishers, but soon found out that it was not my cup of tea. Then came the point where I thought why not publish it myself. I had enough professionals around me who wanted to join forces. Starting with the book was now a fact.
Why so passionate about food?
I think there are people out there that are much more passionate about food than I am. In the end I am just another sucker for people with a passion and I just happened to find out that all adopted Koreans that I met are very passionate about Korean food. I love to cook and to eat it too. My job can be a bit stressful, so when I am not working I like the simplicity and joy of cooking something nice, make someone happy, drink wine, have a good conversation and a laugh.
Who learned you how to cook?
Basically I learned the digital way: Google, YouTube, master chef on tv and of course my Korean friends.
Where do you get your inspiration from to cook?
Thats an easy one: mostly from eating.
Your first cookbook is coming out pretty soon, tell us, how did it all begin?
Like I mentioned above, it all began with me getting to know my Korean family. Falling in love with the food and then hooking up with other adopted Koreans who also were passionate about Korean food. I then came up with the idea of making a cookbook.
Why should we buy your book, what makes it special?
If you ask me, it is much more than just another Korean cookbook. Some of the recipes are linked to someone’s childhood memories. Very personal if you ask me. Not to forget: Korean food is ‘Asia’s best kept secret’. It has such an explicit flavor that is still unknown to a lot of Dutch foodies out there.
On a deeper level, it special, because in my opion adopted Koreans are very strong indivituals. Even though they are adopted and adoption can be a little traumatic, because you realize your family put you up for adoption, most of the Koreans I met turned that trauma into happiness. I had the pleasure of working with amazing Koreans who inspire: Lavinia Meijer, the Harpist, Paul Richters a documentary producer and Julia Kang, author of the bestseller 100% gifvrij. We all worked together to make this cook book a success.
What is the recipe your most proud of? Can you share it with us? And a picture too?
I am proud of all 20 recipes in the book, but I am most proud of the recipes of Tim Doornewaard and Domingo Atsma sharing Korean BBQ recipes for Bulgogi and Kalbi. They are owners of the Korean restaurant Yokiyo. They decided to turn their passion into their profession by starting the restaurant about a year ago. I’ve seen their passion, but also dedication in order to do this.Impressive!
When I asked you where and when we can buy the book, you mentioned crowd funding, so explain a little bit more. How can we help you?
I will start crowd-funding, so I am beyond excited. Seriously! Check out Voordekunst for more info on how to h. You can also read more on www.20koreanen.nl. Show some love, by liking my page on Facebook to follow all updates.
What is your fave cuisine?
Besides Korean, which is obvious, I am a big fan of the Spanish cuisine. I just love to eat Tapas on a beach in Spain, especially with friends or with the locals present. In a weird way it reminds me of having Korean food. Koreans eat a lot of side-dishes, share everything with each other and love to eat the entire day, preferably outside. You order more when more friends join in or when you just can’t get enough. The food needs to be ‘smashing’ good, but the whole experience makes it an even more memorable moment. It makes me think that Korean food would work really well in Spain… Perhaps that should be my next project? Invent Korean tapas?
What is your fave meal?
If I have to name something then its Korean BBQ, Korean “Mandu” (type of dumpling with meat and tofu), a bloody spicy “Kimchi” (fermented cabbage), Eritrean “Enjera”, a good Spanish “Paella”, Dutch “Andijvie stamppot” with bacon and a bit of Kecap Manis, “Massaman Curry”, freshly made bread with a very good chicken liver pate, oh and I love everything with peanut sauce. If I could, I would swim in Kimchi and peanut sauce forever.
What is your fave cookbook? Why?
My own cookbook ’20 Koreans cook Korean’ of course! To name another one; I love ‘Mastering the art of French cooking’ by Julia Child. It was written in 1961, and I love how Julia Child wrote the book in a witty, slightly funny way. All French classics are included in the book.
What 3 ingredients would we always find in your kitchen? Why?
Garlic, Onion, Korean red chili powder. All three are needed in most of the Korean dishes I cook at home.
Most memorable moment in the kitchen (good or bad)?
I once baked an apple-pie for my colleagues because I was leaving the company. Unfortunately, I dropped the whole thing on the floor and decided to put everything back in the baking tin. Seriously, I just pushed it all back together, baked it for another 10 minutes and YES I shared it with my colleagues the next day. Of course the moment came that they offered me a piece, but I passed. I was leaving anyway.
Dish you master?
Korean “Mandu”. Janneke Vogel (one of the adopted Koreans in my cook book, who is responsible for all the beautiful food-photography) learned me how to fold them. It is actually very easy. I love the dumplings with a very basic filling with meat, tofu, shiitake and spring onions. The combination of sesame oil, soy, chili and garlic is a typical Korean marinade that is lush!
Please share your hotspots?
I have a few hotspots in Amsterdam that are not packed with hipsters yet, and where I can enjoy quietly and I call them ‘my secrets’. <NOT sharing, sorry> But I will tell you where I eat with friends at the moment: Yokiyo, Rijssel, Radijs and Dos Duende. All places have a nice and relaxed atmosphere and serve amazing food. For instance, Rijssel serves a coquille that is to die for! And the Paella from Duende is amazing..never disappoints.
Life is not about quotes about life.
Food you had today?
Two sandwiches with butter and chocolate sprinkles and I am planning on eating an Indian curry tonight.
We know you are at the Sunday Market, but where can we find you and buy your products?
At the Sunday Market I cook together with my friend Tosao (whom I call my brother) under the name Tos and Ji. He is a big foodie, managed a few restaurants and bars in Amsterdam. He is a very pretty Japanese guy with a big passion for Korean and Japanese food. You can find him on tos-and-ji.com.
200 gr mixed ground meat (beef and pork)
200 gr tofu
2 spring onions finely chopped
5 shiitake mushrooms soaked
1 onion finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic grated
2,5 cm of ginger grated
ground chili powder to taste
1 tsp sugar
4 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Korean soy sauce (or Japanese)
20 mandu wrappers (1 package)
Wrap the tofu in some paper towel and squeeze the tofu to remove as much water as you can. With your hands make a crumble out of the tofu.
Add a dash of salt, 1 tsp of sesame oil and put in a bowl.
Now add in your grated ginger and the garlic.
Add your ground meat in a bowl and add in 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of sesame oil and ½ tsp of ground pepper, a hint of chili powder (add to your liking) and mix in well.
Mix the spring onions and 1 tsp of sesame oil (very important, don’t skip this step) and add it to the ground meat.
Squeeze out excess water from the shiitakes and finely chop them up. Add 1 tsp of the soy sauce, 1 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of sesame oil.
Mix with your hands and add to the ground meat.
Now put everything together and mix wel.
Take one dumpling sheet and add a little bit of stuffing using a big teaspoon in the center of the sheet.
Carefully fold it lengthwise. Make sure you keep about 1 cm of the edges so you can fold them.
With your fingertips add a little bit of water to the edge of the sheet and use it to seal the mandu.
Press firmly. Now make sure to divide the mixture and ripple from one end towards the other. Make sure that the ripples stick together, so add a little water and press firmly. Remember..practice makes perfect!
Watch this clip of Nathalie on how to fold the mandu’s.
You can either steam the mandu’s or you can fry them, but you can also use them in a soup.
You can steam the mandu’s in 8 minutes.
Fry them for about 6 to 7 minutes.
Or boil them in some stock till they float to the surface.
Serve the mandu’s with a dipping sauce.
3 TBsp of Dark soy sauce
1 TBsp of vinegar (preferably mirin)
Chili pepper to your liking
Time for a G I V E A W A Y
Nathalie is giving you the chance to WIN this incredible cook book! So here’s what you need to do:
– Like her page on Facebook;
– Share my post about this cookbook with your friends on Facebook;
– Comment below in this post why you want to win this book. Don’t forget to add your email address too.
– Only eligible to people living in NL.
We will draw a winner on April 21th and send you the cook book asap.
We have chosen a winner and they’ve been notified.
If you liked this interview, be sure to check out my other interviews here.