Korean Americans are Americans of Korean heritage or descent, mostly from South Korea (99%), and with a very small minority from North Korea, China, Japan, and the Post-Soviet states. The Korean American community comprises about 0.6% of the United States population, or about 1.8 million people, and is the fifth largest Asian American group. The two metropolitan areas with the highest Korean American populations as per the 2010 Census were the Greater Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area (334,329) and the Greater New York Combined Statistical Area (218,764). The Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area ranks third, with approximately 93,000 Korean Americans clustered in Howard and Montgomery Counties in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia. Southern California and the New York City metropolitan area have the largest population of Koreans outside of the Korean Peninsula. Among Korean Americans born in Korea, the Los Angeles metropolitan area had 226,000 as of 2012; New York (including Northern New Jersey) had 153,000 Korean-born Korean Americans, and Washington had 60,000. The percentage of Korean Americans in Bergen County, New Jersey,(my old home town) in the New York City Metropolitan Area, (increased to 6.9% according to the 2011 American Community Survey and is the highest of any county in the United States. Georgia was home to the fastest-growing Korean community in the U.S., with a significant Korean American population in the Atlanta metropolitan area, mainly in Gwinnett County (2.7% Korean), and Fulton County (1.0% Korean).
One of the first Korean Americans was Seo Jae-Pil, who came to America shortly after participating in an abortive coup with other progressives to institute political reform in 1884. He became a citizen in 1890 and earned a medical degree in 1892 from what is now George Washington University. Throughout his life, he strove to educate Koreans in the ideals of freedom and democracy and pressed the U.S. government for Korean independence. He died during the Korean War. His home is now a museum, cared for by a social services organization founded in his name in 1975.
A prominent figure among the Korean immigrant community is Ahn Chang Ho, pen name Dosan, a social activist. He came to the United States in 1902 for education. He founded the Friendship Society in 1903 and the Mutual Assistance Society. He was also a political activist during the Japanese occupation of Korea. There is a memorial built in his honor in downtown Riverside, California and his family home on 36th Place in Los Angeles has been restored by the University of Southern California. The City of Los Angeles has also declared the nearby intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Van Buren Place to be “Dosan Ahn Chang Ho Square” in his honor.
Another prominent figure among the Korean immigrant community was Syngman Rhee (이승만) He came to the United States in 1904 and earned a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in 1907, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1910. In 1910, he returned to Korea and became a political activist. He later became the first president of the Republic of Korea.
In 1903, the first group of Korean laborers came to Hawaii on January 13, now known annually as Korean-American Day, to fill jobs as laborers. Between 1904 and 1907, about 1,000 Koreans entered the mainland from Hawaii through San Francisco. Many Koreans dispersed along the Pacific Coast as farm workers or as laborers in mining companies and as section hands on the railroads.
Between 1905 and 1910, political activities in Korean American communities surged in opposition towards Japanese aggression of Korea and they formed organizations throughout the US. In 1909, two of the largest Korean-American organizations would merge to form the Korean National Association, the largest Korean immigrant organization in North America. Leaders included An Changho, Syngman Rhee, and Park Yong-man. This organization along with others would play key roles in the Korean independence movement between 1910 and 1945. When the Korean War ended in 1953, small numbers of students and professionals entered the United States. A larger group of immigrants included women married to U.S. servicemen. With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, Koreans became one of the fastest growing Asian groups in the United States, surpassed only by Filipinos. In the 1980s and 1990s Koreans became noted not only for starting small businesses such as dry cleaners or convenience stores, but also for building churches.
Korean American cuisine can be described as a fusion of traditional Korean cuisine with American culture and tastes. Dishes such as “Korean tacos” have emerged from the contacts between Korean bodega owners and their Mexican workers in the Los Angeles area, spreading from one food truck (Kogi Korean BBQ) in November 2008 to national prominence eighteen months later. Often, chefs borrow from Korean flavors and preparation techniques that they integrate into the cuisine they are most comfortable with (whether it be Tex-Mex, Chinese, or purely American). Even a classic staple of the American diet, the hamburger, is available with a Korean twist – bulgogi (Korean BBQ) burgers.
Korean cuisine has unique and bold flavors, colors, and styles; that include kimchi, a spicy dish made of salted and fermented vegetables (baechu-kimchi, kkaktugi), long-fermented pastes (gochujang, doenjang), rice cake, noodle dishes and stews (tteok-bokki, naengmyun), marinated and grilled meats (bulgogi, galbi), and many seafood dishes using fish cakes, octopus, squid, shellfish and fish.
Make some Korean style dishes at home. Here are a few recipes for you to try.
Red Pepper Potatoes
This is a traditional and uniquely-flavored Korean side dish. Serves 3-4.
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
3 medium red potatoes, about 1 lb, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large green onions, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, diced
Whisk the soy sauce and cayenne pepper in a small bowl until the cayenne pepper is dissolved; set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook the potatoes in the hot oil until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the scallions and bell pepper; cook 2-3 minutes more. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the potatoes; cook and stir until the liquid is completely absorbed 1 to 2 minutes.
Korean Bulgogi-Style Grilled Steak
1/4 cup gochujang Korean chili paste
3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons of unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 large scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 ½ to 2-pound flank steak
In a large plastic ziplock bag combine the gochujang, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, oil, scallions, and cilantro. Close the bag and mix the ingredients together. Add the steak, close the bag and turn the bag over several times to coat the steak. Place the bag in a large dish and let the steak marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Turn the bag over several times during the marinating time.
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Grill the steak for 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until the steak is cooked medium-rare. It should reach an internal temperature of 130°F. in the thickest part of the steak. Remove the steak from the grill to a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let it rest for 3 to 4 minutes.
Slice the steak into thin pieces across the grain, place on a serving plate and serve with the reserved sauce.
Korean Cucumber Salad
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Half of a hothouse (English) cucumber or regular unwaxed cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1 green onion, sliced thin
1/2 carrot, shredded
Make the dressing: In a serving bowl, stir together vinegar, black pepper, red pepper flakes, honey, oil, and sesame seeds.
Make the salad: Mix in the sliced cucumber, green onions, and shredded carrot. Cover, and refrigerate until serving time.
Grilled Asian Chicken Thighs with Citrus Salsa
4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste
1 tablespoon Korean hot sauce (gochujang) or your favorite Asian hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Half a navel orange
One red grapefruit
Zest of ½ a lemon
Zest of half an orange
1 large spring onion or 2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Pinch of salt
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag and add the chicken thighs.
Coat the chicken in the marinade then seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or up to 6-8 hours.
To make the salsa: Using a grapefruit knife, remove the fruit segments over a colander placed over a bowl. Let the fruit drain. Use the juice for another recipe.
Combine the fruit segments with the remaining salsa ingredients. Set aside while the chicken cooks.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.
Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grill grates.
Drain the chicken and discard the marinade in the bag. Place the chicken pieces skin-side down on the hot grill, and cook them for 7-8 minutes.
Turn the chicken pieces over with tongs to avoid piercing them and letting the juices run out. Cook the thighs for another 7-8 minutes.
Place an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Chicken thighs and drumsticks are cooked when the temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the chicken to a platter and place the Citrus Salsa on the side of the chicken.
Spring Strawberry Salad with Warm Mozzarella Cheese
1 green onion, roughly chopped
1/2 avocado, peeled
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup red grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoons honey, according to taste
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 ounces leaf lettuce
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 pound cooked asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, each cut ½ inch thick
1 oz chopped pecans
1 large egg white, beaten with 1/2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter
Purée the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth to make a dressing. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until needed.
For the cheese: Dip each cheese slice into the egg wash and then into the chopped pecans, pressing on the nuts to help them stick to the cheese.
Place the slices on a baking rack set on a sheet pan or large plate and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
Arrange the greens, strawberries, and asparagus on Individual salad plates,
Heat the butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chilled cheese slices and cook until softened but not melting, about 2 minutes.
With a wide spatula carefully turn the cheese slices over. If some of the nuts fall off, just scoop them up and place them back on the cheese
Place a cheese slice on top of each salad. If any nuts fall off into the pan, just sprinkle them on the salad. Drizzle the salad with some of the dressing and serve.
Grilled Asian Flavored Scallops
½ lb medium sea scallops
2 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, grated
Combine all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Allow the scallops to marinate for 15 minutes.
Skewer the scallops on soaked wooden or metal skewers and cook on a preheated indoor grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes per side.
They should be slightly firm, Serve with the Spring Vegetable Stir-fry.
Spring Vegetable Stir-fry
Stir Fry Sauce
1/3 cup coconut aminos or soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned (unsweetened) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey or a low-carb sweetener
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium spaghetti squash
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 small head baby bok choy, sliced into 1-inch strips
4 scallions, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/3 cup cashews, toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the halves, with the cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until you can poke the squash easily with a fork.
Let cool until you can handle it safely. Then scrape the insides of one half of the cooked squash with a fork to shred the squash into strands and place on a plate.
Reserve the remaining squash for another recipe.
Prepare the stir-fry sauce.
In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the stir-fry sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the peanut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and broccoli and sauté for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.
Then stir in the bok choy and bean sprouts; cook for 3-4 minutes until wilted. Add the stir-fry sauce and then stir in the cooked spaghetti squash and red pepper flakes.
To serve: Sprinkle the vegetable stir-fry with the cashews and serve.
It is that time of year! Sports and more sports. We love to invite friends over to watch some of our favorite teams and small bite appetizers are the best foods to have on hand. Folks love them. Here are a few of our big hits.
To make this ahead: cook the meatballs and prepare the sauce separately. Refrigerate separately until serving time. Then reheat the sauce, add the meatballs and cook until the meatballs are hot. Pour into a serving bowl.
For the Meatballs
1 lb organic ground chicken or pork
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup almond flour
For the Sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 tablespoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
4 tablespoons sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon Gochujang (red chili paste)
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
To make the meatballs:
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
Using a cookie scoop form into 21-22 one inch balls and saute in peanut oil over medium heat until cooked through and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
To make the sauce:
Combine the sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauces, chili paste, water, sugar and arrowroot in a small saucepan. Reserve the scallions.
Whisk until combined and bring to a boil.
Simmer for five minutes until thickened.
Add the cooked meatballs and scallions to the thickened sauce and stir to coat. Heat for a few minutes. Pour into a shallow serving dish.
Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
This recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and bake before serving.
15 large mushrooms cleaned and stems removed
1 scallion, minced
1 small garlic, grated
1 pkg frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
3 ounces feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning or dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Hollow out the mushrooms and reserve the mushroom stems for another use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a glass baking dish and put the dish in the oven while the oven preheats.
Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stuff the caps with the filling and place in the hot prepared pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.Place on a serving platter.
If the Mushrooms have been in the refrigerator, bring them to room temperature for an hour before cooking.
They may need to be baked a little longer.
Mini Crab Puffs with Remoulade Sauce
The crab puffs can be baked ahead, refrigerated and reheated just before game time.
1/2 pound fresh crab meat
2 tablespoons minced bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 scallion, minced
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon crab seasoning (recommended Old Bay)
2 tablespoons almond flour or all purpose flour
Combine all the ingredients except the crab in a mixing bowl. Mix well and then fold in the crab meat.
Cover the bowl and chill the mixture until ready to bake.
Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and, using a cookie scoop, fill 15 openings to the top of the muffin cup with the crab mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -20 minutes until cooked through and lightly golden brown.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and remove to a serving platter.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a serving dish. Whisk until completely mixed. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
I know my kitchen is primarily Italian but every once in a while other cuisines find their way there.
I was inspired to consider making a Korean dish after reading a recipe for BBQ Korean Steak on a blog I follow, Back Road Journal. I decided on BBQ pork ribs and a stir fry noodle dish after assessing the ingredients I had in the pantry and freezer.
To make a Korean BBQ sauce, you need gochujang. Gochujang or red chili paste is a fermented sweet and spicy sauce made from red chili powder, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder, barley malt powder and salt. Traditionally, it has been naturally fermented over years in an earthenware pot on an elevated stone platform, called jangdokdae, in a Korean family’s backyard. The making of gochujang at home began tapering off when commercial production came into the mass market in the early 1970s. Now, most Koreans purchase gochujang at grocery stores or markets, just like we can.
Korean Spicy Glazed Pork Ribs
1/4 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 pounds baby back pork ribs
Whisk gochujang, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil in a glass dish until smooth.
Cut the ribs into smaller pieces, about two bones per piece.
Toss the ribs in the marinade. Cover the dish and chill at least 4 hours or up to 1 day ahead.
Place ribs in a baking dish to fit that has been lined with heavy-duty foil (for easy cleanup). Cover with foil.
Reserve any marinade in the glass dish.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake ribs, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover and increase oven temperature to 450°F.
Roast, turning occasionally and brushing with reserved marinade, until the ribs are deeply browned, glazed and fork-tender, 30 – 35 minutes longer.
Stir Fried Noodles with Vegetables
1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
10 oz package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
2 cups fresh Asian noodles
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage
Stir Fry Sauce (recipe below)
4 scallions, chopped
Heat oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir fry for about 10 seconds.
Add the broccoli and stir fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cabbage, the noodles and the Stir Fry Sauce.
Return to heat, gently toss for 1 minute to heat through the noodles and for the sauce to thicken. Sprinkle with scallions and serve.
Stir Fry Sauce
This sauce is fantastic and very authentic tasting in stir fry dishes. Make a double batch and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick dinner.
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese wine (or sherry)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Combine ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine.