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Best Overall: Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking at Amazon
"Covers a wide range of styles and cooking levels."
Best for Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces at Amazon
"There are a total of 80 different Korean-American recipes."
Best for Beginners: Cook Korean! at Amazon
"Uses a graphic novel format that makes cooking a bit more lighthearted."
Best for Easy Recipes: Korean Food Made Simple By Judy Joo at Amazon
"Has fun, easy recipes that can be made at home."
Best for Korean Fusion: My Rice Bowl at Amazon
"75 recipes that fuse Korean cuisine with cuisines from all over the globe."
Best for Traditional Recipes: Growing up in a Korean Kitchen at Amazon
"This book explores both Korean roots and the author’s history."
Best for Kimchi: The Kimchi Cookbook at Amazon
"Kimchi isn’t just one recipe, as this book proves."
Best for Korean-American Cooking: Seoul Food Cookbook at Amazon
"Includes recipes for Korean bar food as well as Korean-American fusion foods."
Best Overall: Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking: Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook By Maangchi
You know someone is popular when they can be called by just one name, like Maangchi. Known for her popular YouTube videos, she’s carved out a niche for herself as an authority on Korean cooking. Born and raised in Korea, she learned how to cook traditional foods from her family.
Not only does this book cover a wide range recipe styles, but it also covers a range of difficulty, so beginners will find plenty of recipes they can learn with, while more experienced cooks can create more complicated dishes. This book has step-by-step photos that help make the techniques simple, along with tips inspired by questions her followers have asked her over the years. And of course, if you still have questions, you can check her videos for even more help.
Best for Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces By Bill Kim
Korean barbecue isn’t the same as American barbecue, and it’s not just because of the sauces. Korean barbecue usually uses thin slices of meat (Chadol baegi) that are cooked quickly, unlike low-and-slow American barbecue.
Author Bill Kim was born in Korea and raised in the Midwest, so he knows what it takes to cook Korean in a typical American home, making this book more Korean-American than traditional Korean.
This book relies on seven different sauces and three spice rubs, often used in combination, to create a wide variety of different flavors. There are a total of 80 different recipes, and there are suggested substitutions for items that might not be readily available for American cooks. Since these recipes rely on the sauces and rubs, you can make those in advance so there’s a bit less work to do when it’s time to cook. Just make sure you have enough of each before you start!
Best for Beginners: Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes By Robin Ha
Cooking a new cuisine can be intimidating, but this book eases the tension by using a graphic novel format that makes cooking a bit more lighthearted. But it’s not all fun and games—there are 64 recipes, along with detailed information about the ingredients used.
The colorful illustrations add a whimsical touch to this cookbook, but they also serve to educate you about the ingredients as well as the steps required to make the recipes. There are plenty of simple recipes, as well as more challenging ones that you can attempt after your confidence has grown. In addition to recipes, there are some personal and cultural notes from the author that make this book even more appealing for anyone interested in Korean food and culture.
Best for Easy Recipes: Korean Food Made Simple By Judy Joo
Judy Joo may look familiar since she’s the host of a show on the Cooking Channel where she concisely demonstrates Korean recipes. This book follows suit, with fun, easy recipes that can be made at home. There’s also information on what to stock in your pantry to be ready to make Korean food any time you want it.
This book has 130 recipes, including popular Korean dishes as well as more creative riffs on Korean food. While those creative recipes may not be traditional at all, they’re a great way to introduce Korean flavors into dishes that are comfortable for an American audience. Recipes for desserts, drinks, and sauces round out the collection, making it a comprehensive book for anyone who wants to try cooking Korean at home.
Best for Korean Fusion: My Rice Bowl: Korean Cooking Outside the Lines By Rachel Yang
This book is perfect for folks who want to experiment with the flavors of Korean cooking without taking a deep dive into traditional recipes. While there are plenty of other cookbooks that have Americanized Korean food, this one boasts 75 recipes that fuse Korean cuisine with different cuisines from all around the globe.
Author Rachel Yang was born and raised in Korea but spent time cooking in American restaurants, learning from a variety of chefs and embracing American cooking techniques. With this cookbook, she’s taken Korean recipes and added ingredients like tahini, chipotle, and crème fraiche for an interesting twist. The recipes may not be traditional, but they certainly are delicious!
Best for Traditional Recipes: Growing up in a Korean Kitchen: A Cookbook By Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall
Korean cooking has deep roots, and this book explores both those roots and the author’s history. Many of these recipes are part of the unwritten food culture, passed down in families throughout generations. There are recipes for special occasions as well as everyday meals. High-end cuisine and countryside cooking are both represented, giving a broad look at the food eaten just about everywhere in the country.
While these are traditional recipes, they’re simple to follow, but may require a few Korean ingredients that might not be easy to find. However, a list of resources for both the ingredients and Korean cooking tools are included. This book has a whopping 250 recipes plus some variations, along with the author’s family and travel photos, and plenty of reminiscences that make this a good read as well as a book to cook from.
Best for Kimchi: The Kimchi Cookbook: 60 Traditional and Modern Ways to Make and Eat Kimchi
Perhaps you’ve bought a jar of kimchi or you’ve eaten some in a restaurant, but kimchi isn’t just one recipe, as this book proves. Kimchi is seasonal, using produce as it is available from local farms. Kimchi can be ready to eat in just a few minutes, or it can require a long fermenting time. It can be fresh or funky. It can be deeply flavored or light and bright. This book has 60 different recipes for making kimchi and for using it in recipes that are both traditional and modern, and even some that are truly unique.
To make kimchi easier, the ingredients section details the ingredients required, so you’ll have an idea what the flavors are like before you invest time and energy into the recipes. For vegetarians, there are suggested substitutions that can add the required umami flavor, so there’s something for everyone.
Best for Korean-American Cooking: Seoul Food Korean Cookbook: Korean Cooking from Kimchi and Bibimbap to Fried Chicken and Bingsoo By Naomi Imatome-Yun
The author grew up in the suburbs of America but learned how to make favorite Korean foods from her Korean grandmother. Her book grew from those cooking sessions. The book has 135 recipes for familiar Korean foods like bulgogi and kimchi, but also includes recipes for Korean bar food as well as the inevitable Korean-American fusion foods that arise when traditional foods meet new ingredients.
Besides recipes, this book also has information about food customs, table manners, and tips for eating in Korean restaurants without looking too much like an outsider. Resources for buying specialty ingredients are also included, as are suggestions for substitutions if you don’t have easy access to all of the ingredients.