Foodie Tales with Judy Joo
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Foodie Tales with Judy Joo

Judy Joo on exploding mixers and always cooking with The Force

Korean-American chef Judy Joo worked in some of the world’s most prestigious kitchens, from Claridge’s to The Fat Duck and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. before striking out on her own. She opened her first restaurant in 2014, Jinjuu, which was widely celebrated as London’s best modern Korean eatery, inspired by the flavours of her childhood. After a few years she handed it over to new owners so she could focus her energy on a new launch: Seoul Bird, a fast-casual Korean fried chicken concept which she opened with YouTube personality Andrew Hales. Along the way she has also penned a number of books, including Korean Food Made Simple, which she shares a recipe from below, made using the buzziest dish of the moment: kimchi

Q&A with Judy Joo

What’s your food philosophy?

Less is more – learn to edit! 

What was the first dish you learnt to cook?

Kraft macaroni and cheese. 

What’s your favourite in season ingredient?

I love pears around this time in late January, when they’re just about to go out of season. 

What is your biggest food mistake?

Exploding the Thermomix while working at The Fat Duck. So embarrassing! 

What is your most memorable meal out?

On the fine dining front, in the USA I have to say that Per Se never disappoints, and Thomas Keller is a true culinary genius. In the UK, I absolutely love Pierre Gagnaire’s venue in sketch – exquisite in every way. For more casual meals, which are more my style, I love seaside shacks where they serve whatever they caught that day, and simply grill it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a kiss of lemon. Total bliss.

When you’re not in the kitchen, where are you?

Probably on my laptop working. If not working… then I am usually doing some kind of activity, such as Pilates, tennis, skiing, etc. 

Do you have any unique cooking rituals?

Oh yes, I like to use my Star Wars R2-D2 pepper grinder, so all of my food has The Force. 

What’s in your fridge?

My homemade kimchi, eggs, fresh fruit, cheese, champagne, King’s caviar, Pierre Marcolini chocolates. 

What’s your dream dinner date?

Eating on a tropical beach, fresh grilled seafood with lots of veggies, under the stars with a great bottle of champagne… and a cute doggie keeping us company, too. 

What is one piece of sustainable food advice you’d give to our readers?

Try to eat as seasonally and locally as you can. This ethos is not so hard to follow, as Britain has abundant produce and these items taste the best when in season and at their ripest. 

Recipe: Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely diced
  • 9 button mushrooms, destemmed and diced
  • ½ courgette, diced
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 225g drained cabbage kimchi, chopped
  • 2,700g steamed white rice, at room temperature
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 soft sunny-side-up fried eggs

Method:

  1. In a large pan, heat the oil over a medium-high heat. 
  2. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a kitchen paperlined plate to drain. 
  4. Reduce the heat to medium, add the carrots and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the carrots are just softened. 
  5. Add the mushrooms, courgette, two-thirds of the spring onions and the kimchi and cook for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are tender. 
  6. Add the rice with a wooden spoon and combining it with the other ingredients. 
  7. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is hot. 
  8. Season and spoon the rice into four bowls and top each with a fried egg and the remaining spring onions. 

TIP: Kimchi can stain your chopping board and the smell has a habit of lingering too. To avoid this, put the kimchi in a bowl and use kitchen shears to cut it into smaller pieces.

Korean Food Made Simple (Jacqui Small, £22). Judy Joo’s Korean Soul Food has also recently relaunched. She is the chef behind Seoul Bird. judyjoo.com