I’ll be referring to my mom and my mother a lot. The first one is my mom – the most influential person on my cooking and on life (after Jesus), and the second is my mother-in-law. I learned cooking from these two women who are amazing cooks with completely different styles.
My mom’s food is clean, refined and very slow. Her food is so amazing, but she takes forever to cook because she puts so much thoughts and efforts in picking the best ingredient and doing a lengthy prep work. Sometimes I wonder, “Is that all really necessary..?” but don’t dare to speak up. She holds a fancy title “Craftsman Cook in Korean food,” a chef license to cook for Korean restaurants in Korea. Yup, you can’t get more authentic than this one.
My mother (= mother-in-law. Literally I call her “mother” in Korean. I saved her phone number as “Mother” too.) has been running a restaurant for twenty something years and obviously a super professional legit cook. She is by far the most efficient and fastest cook I’ve ever met. Feeding people is one of her utmost joy in life, and my husband and I take a full advantage of it. We are fortunate to live so close by. I mean, how can you beat free Kimchi for a lifetime?
The problem with these mothers is that they can never give me the precise answer to how to cook things. I ask, “Oh heavenly delicious! How did you make that?” and they would say something like, “Oh haha.. it’s EASY.. just add A and B and cook them with little bit of soy sauce and sesame oil.. that’s all.”
With all my respect and love, I know they are not lying… but they are!! I mean, there must be hidden ingredients C and D and soy sauce + sesame oil aren’t the only seasoning they have done. And how much of soy sauce?? C and D are probably onion or scallion or ginger or something too minor for them to mention to me, and they probably have added sugar or pepper or diced garlic that are too commonsensical to point out.
Since asking and talking don’t do the trick for me, I watch them cooking. Another FAIL. They cook too fast! They don’t measure! They get annoyed that I’m in the kitchen getting in the way asking too many stupid questions! Or I think that I get it finally, come home, try replicating, and of course another FAIL.
The real fundamental problem is me, of course, not the moms. If my mom told my mother the same vague thing, my mother probably would get it straight. I just don’t have the basic knowledge and experience to comprehend the bigger picture. Sad but true. Truth hurts.
So here goes my promise to you. It is not cool to describe the measurement as the “appropriate amount” or “little bit” or “depending on your preference.” That’s what mothers do, and unfortunately I’m not a guru. I will make my best effort to articulate the precise measurement for you. If something is not clear, please leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.