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  • Im Soo Han

Simple Korean Marinade -Two-Two-Two-Two-One Recipe

Updated: Apr 2

As you can see from my first blog, food is my source of comfort. It is also my greatest temptation and downfall. That is why I have been on a diet every day since I turned 26 — a consistent struggle to lose 10 to 20 pounds for the past 35 years. First world problem, I know.

My food obsession is a bit funny because my parents opened a restaurant when I was nine years old and operated it for over 30 years. The restaurant was situated in a strip mall that was ugly like most strip malls were/are, located in a sleepy and once poor seaside town in Central California. Instead of serving Korean food, which would have been the more obvious choice, my dad declared to any and all who would listen to him with his arms held up as if in a sermon, “We are Americans, we will cook American food to Americans.” Yet, my mother who was supposed to serve as the cook and everything else for the diner did not know how to cook American food.

My obsession with food, however, did not start at the time my parents opened the diner. It started at a much younger age. You see, neither my parents, nor my grandparents, knew how to show us we were loved if we were ever loved. I don’t ever remember a hug of comfort or an expression of “I love you” from any one in my family. If my mother were reading this blog, I’m certain she would be offended by my last statement. She would tell me that I wanted too much, that I was entitled.

So I relied on food — food being prepared, the setting of the table, the slurping of noodles, the clanking of chop sticks and spoon, the smells of spices — all that encompasses food — as a sign of love. But I have a love-hate relationship with food because my older brother always received the extra portions, the sweetest pieces, the best parts of the fish. “He needs extra food to grow his brain,” my grandmother would say. Like I said, I have a love-hate relationship with food.

You would think that I would have learned how to cook at least diner food from my mother since she ran the restaurant, and I worked there from the time it opened its doors. But no, she did not want me to get in her way; she had a very low tolerance for ineptitude.

So It took me over 50 years to learn how to cook Korean food. I recently learned the 2-2-2-2-1 receipt I wish to share with you: 2 tablespoon of hutchugaru (Korean red pepper), 2 tablespoon of Korean sugar or brown sugar; 2 tablespoon of soy sauce; 2 tablespoon of rice vinegar and one tablespoon of sesame seed oil. I use this recipe as the base flavor for most Korean dishes. This receipt is perfect for pouring over cut up baby cucumbers or baby leaf salad. To add to the recipe for soups or marinate, simply add garlic, ginger and green onions. I truly hope you enjoy this receipt which has taken me many complicated years to figure out.

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