Back-to-School Cookin’

Make hearty Korean dishes in the comfort of your own dorm room

Story and Photographs by Namju Cho

You’re back in school. Whether a freshman or returning student, college means you’ll be subject to less-than-appetizing cafeteria food. More precisely, it means you won’t be eating your umma’s home-cooking anytime soon. When the cravings beckon, remember the following recipes can be prepared in a dorm room hot pot or electric skillet, and are only five easy steps away. You can buy most of the ingredients in mainstream markets and find specialty items like kimchi or gochujang (red pepper paste) in most Asian markets (or ask Mom or Dad to send them in a care package). So, don’t settle for fast food as a substitute. Make Korean comfort food yourself—and enjoy rock star status when you share with your floormates!

Kimchi tuna jjigae
(pictured above)

Serves 4

1-1/2cups of chopped kimchi (the older, the better)
1 can of tuna (Dongwon)
1 cup of cubed tofu
3 cups of water
1 sliced green onion
1 tablespoon of sesame oil (may substitute any kind of oil)

1) Pour oil in a hot pot or electric skillet.
2) Add kimchi and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
3) Add water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
4) Add tuna, tofu and top with green onions.
5) Simmer for 5 minutes and remove pot from heat. Serve with rice.

NOTE: If you don’t have rice, you may add instant ramyeon noodles into the pot.


Serves 2-3

4 cups of water
2 cups of frozen mandu (try CJ meat and cucumber)
1 egg, beaten
1 sliced green onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of frozen rice cake ovalettes (optional)
toasted unseasoned seaweed (optional)

1) Bring water to a boil in pot.
2) Add mandu and boil for about 5 minutes.
3) Add egg and ovalettes and cook for about 3 minutes.
4) Season with salt and pepper. Add green onions and remove pot from heat.
5 Crush seaweed with hands and sprinkle on soup. Serve.

Serves 2-3

1 package of instant ramyeon noodles
1 cup of chopped fish cakes
2 sliced green onions
3-4 tablespoons of gochujang* (Korean red pepper paste), depending on preferred level of heat
3 tablespoons of maple syrup or sugar
1 hard-boiled egg, quartered (optional)
1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil (optional)
1 tablespoon of sesame seeds (optional)
*Korean markets sell pre-packaged sauces, though homemade is always better.

1) Bring water to a boil in pot. Add ramyeon noodles to water and cook for 4 minutes.
2) Drain most of the water out, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Set aside cooked noodles.
3) Add the fish cakes to pot and dissolve gochujang and syrup in the water remaining in the pot.
4) Add noodles, egg and sesame oil to the pot and mix evenly.
5) Top with green onions and sesame seeds. Remove from heat and serve.