Featured Friday: Hyosun Ro – EatingandLiving.blogspot.com

I reached out to Hyosun Ro after doing a featured friday with my friend Janice aka “blog snooper” who mentioned that she loved a Korean food blog called eatingandliving.  Little did I know back then that this would escalate into a true bloggy friendship, resulting in Hyosun saying that she felt like she has known me for a long time and that I “was her niece.”  What a compliment!  I told her I’d happily be her adoptive niece any day.

Hyosun works for the US. Government full time, and then blogs about authentic Korean cooking on her free time.  She basically does what Korean moms typically don’t do… she writes down her recipes with measurements!  And if that isn’t impressive enough, the thing I truly like the most about her is how honestly humble she is.  She’s always so grateful for any attention or press she gets, but the truth is, she has already received some crazy recognition.

In fact, her posts have been featured frequently on A-list websites such as: Tastespotting, foodgawker, Pinterest, the kitchn, Tasteology, Rasa Malaysia, and Korean Food Gallery.  She has received Sunshine and Stylish blog awards and is a babble.com 100 best mom food bloggers nominee for 2011!  Whew!  I’m exhausted.

But even with all those bells and whistles, she still graciously accepted to be interviewed here, and then went on to warn me that she was afraid her interview would be “boring” or “not like the amazing young people” I usually feature.  What in the what now?  Can you believe this nonsense?  Haha… sorry Hyosun to call you out on this, but you couldn’t be more wrong.  I mean, just take a look at her mouthwatering photos.

Of course, I had to post the picture of the recipe that got Janice to rave about eatingandliving in the first place.  This recipe for tofu with stir fried kimchi and pork is what made Janice a believer.  She tried out this recipe one day and even though it says it feeds 2-3 people, she said she practically ate the whole thing herself!

Honestly, even from a personal level, I could probably go on and on about Hyosun’s blog and how great she is, but I think you should just read more about this working and blogging cool Korean mom in her interview below:

hyosun ro’s interview 10.14.11:

{julie}: Where are you and what do you do?
{hyosun}: I’m in Fairfax County, Virginia, about 20 miles outside Washington D.C. I’m a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and work for the U.S. Government in Washington, D.C. My job basically deals with numbers, laws and regulations related to government contracting (that is, to government spending of taxpayer dollars in buying goods and services).

{julie}: When and why did you start your blog, eatingandliving, and what motivated you to keep up with it for so long?
{hyosun}: It all started in the summer of 2009 as a means to teach my two grown-up children how to cook the food they grew up with. The inspiration to start a blog came from my children and their friends over the course of several conversations about Korean food during that summer. Before I knew it, my blog was mentioned and linked to all over the web.

It’s been challenging at times, but the support and encouragement from readers has kept me going.  Nothing makes me happier about blogging than hearing from a reader how he or she tried one of my recipes and enjoyed the result! It’s truly rewarding to know that more and more people are learning about and enjoying Korean food through my blog. And, of course I’ve (virtually) met so many wonderful and talented people — including Julie! — through food blogging.

{julie}: What visions or goals do you have for the future of your blog or brand?
{hyosun}: My goal is to provide a wide range of home-cooked Korean recipes that are easy to follow and consistently produce tasty dishes. Through my blog, I hope more people will find Korean cooking approachable and learn how to prepare Korean food the way that Korean mothers (and some fathers) traditionally did and still do for their families. As probably many of us bloggers do, I also hope that I can one day compile my recipes into a cookbook that can be passed on to generations to come.

{julie}: What is the worst kitchen disaster you ever had? Could you salvage it?
{hyosun}: Many years ago, I was cooking for my father-in-law’s birthday and had invited a few friends of his from his church. The dinner was almost ready, and I was cooking the last dish when I decided to add a couple of large clams to the agujjim (braised spicy monkfish). I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had this great idea to try to open a clam with a big kitchen knife while holding it with my left hand. I ended up in the emergency room, and my sister-in-law had to take over in the kitchen. Luckily, the dinner was still served.

{julie}: Quick, go check your fridge and tell us what’s in there. Be honest.
{hyosun}: Kkakdugi (radish kimchi), gul kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi with oysters), jangjorim (soy sauce braised beef), sundubu (soft tofu), tteokbokki tteok (rice cakes), mung bean sprouts, miyeok guk (seaweed soup), danmuji (sweet pickled radish), gochujang (red pepper paste), doenjang (soybean paste), saewoojeot (salted shrimp), Greek yogurt, cheeses (parmigiano reggiano, gorgonzola, manchega), ham, heirloom tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, milk, orange juice, and more.  Should I continue?

{julie}: What are some of the most popular recipes on your blog and why do you think they get the most reaction?
Doenjang jjigae: This one surprised me a little, but it is the most visited recipe on my blog. It’s hard to tell why. But, my guess is that the photo draws people in. There’s a freshness that comes across from the lively colors yet there’s no mistaking that it’s a down-to-earth hearty stew. And with the steam coming off the stew in the photo, you can almost smell the boiled doenjang filling the room!

Jjambbong: This is another hearty bowl of soup that is packed with strong flavors. What is there not to like? I think people are surprised to find out from my recipe (and the step-by-step photos) how easy it is to make this restaurant favorite at home.

Bibimbap: Obviously this is one of the most popular Korean dishes outside Korea and has been getting a lot of attention recently here in the U.S. As you know, there’s no shortage of bibimbap recipes on the internet. But, reading people’s comments, I get the impression that a lot of people are simply overwhelmed by the cooking process (understandably so, since it involves preparing a number of small dishes that are put together at the end). I think people like my recipe because I’ve laid out each step and made it easy to follow along, while also accompanying the instructions for each vegetable and the meat with a photo.

{julie}: We know you can make awesome Korean dishes, but what are the top 3 non-Korean dishes you like to make?
{hyosun}: That’s rather hard for me to pick. There are so many I like, but these dishes come to my mind at this moment:
1. All things pasta (bolognese, puttanesca, alle vongole, etc.).
2. Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken. It’s so easy to make and yet wonderfully moist and flavorful. I save the remainders to make a delicious stock for soups or porridge.
3. Butternut squash soup (or kabocha soup). I love the sweet and nutty flavor as well as the creamy texture and bright yellow color.

{julie}: What are your hobbies, or what do you like to do on your free time?
{hyosun}: Free time? What’s that? : ) I do yoga and enjoy my lunch walks in and around the National Mall in D.C. I also have a ritual of going to the farmers’ market every Saturday morning, and I garden some of my favorite vegetables. If I had more time, I’d love to watch more movies, read more books, discover more places to eat great food, and travel more (that’s what we all say, right??).

{julie}: Please list three interesting, weird, or fun “Hyosun” facts.
1.When I was growing up, my brothers used to make fun of me because I ate weird stuff like pig’s feet, blood sausages, chicken gizzards, etc. Little did they know that was a sign of one serious future foodie!
2. Although not uncommon in Korea, I went to an all-girls middle school, high school, and college. And, I still turned out okay.
3. My daughter finds it strange that I can pick up hot pots and bowls with my bare hands. That’s what happens after being a busy working mother rushing to feed the hungry family for so many years.

{julie}: How come it’s common now for people in Korea to eat western dishes like steak and pasta, and yet they still don’t have a Korean word for “fork?”
{hyosun}: That’s a tough one! Is it because Koreans eat their steak and pasta with chopsticks? Oh wait! There is a Korean word for “fork”, it’s “ 포크 ” pronounced “po-kuh”.

Thanks Hyosun for your very fun, interesting, “young” and “hip” interview.  I appreciate you doing this especially during your crazy month of being super busy!  That answer about your kitchen disaster made me cringe… yikes!  Glad you’re okay and able to continue cooking your amazing food.  Be sure to check out Hyosun’s website at: eatingandliving.blogspot.com and push “like” on her facebook fan page.

So there you have it folks.  Now you can stop hounding me for authentic Korean dishes.  You know where to go the next time a kimchi jigae or jajangmyeon craving hits.  But don’t run away to her blog and leave me in the dust, aite?  There’s plenty of room here in the blogosphere for both “authentic aunt” and “fusion niece!”

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