Jiho Yun / Photographed by Ellen J Hemmings
One of the loveliest things about this project is having the opportunity to learn more about my friends, sharing food, and hearing stories that might not otherwise get told. I met Jiho almost two years ago now at the first Cross St Market in Auckland – the most beautiful birthplace of so many new friendships. I had been a big fan of Walk in the Park before this market, and having only just started Petley I was very nervous to meet them. Luckily, Jiho and Sam are the some of the greatest people, there was nothing at all to be nervous about, and we have been friends since that first market.
Jiho is a wonder, a modest and quiet achiever who if you don’t probe, you might not ever find out all the amazing things she has achieved. I was blown away when she nonchalantly told me she worked with Eleanor Ozich in creating the menu for the Monday’s, as well as managing the kitchen there for two years. Or that she studied and worked in film for six years while still in Korea.
But well before Jiho was making revolutionary menus at new cafés in Auckland, she was a fussy kid in Seoul. Her palate was limited to rice, canned fish, seaweed, eggs, and sweet corn, all of which she ate very small amounts of. It wasn’t even until she was 7 that she came around to lollies and soft drinks. Jiho remembers her mum chasing her around the house almost begging her to just eat a spoonful of rice before she got on the bus to school. While at school the embarrassment of not liking certain foods won over not eating. At school in Korea the kids are assigned a classroom for the entire year, and it’s the teachers that come to them for each subject. This does not change for lunchtime. The massive kitchens at the schools would deliver enough hot food to each classroom and the kids would sit around and eat before going out to play. She remembers so fondly the sound of the kids all over the school moving their desks out of there straight rows to be closer to one another so they could eat and talk together. Jiho managed to hide her distaste for the sour side dishes like kimchi from her friends by eating small mouthfuls at a time, and following it with huge spoonful’s of rice to mask the flavour.
Jiho’s palate blossomed as each of her small bites began to pay off, and she really began to enjoy food. It was her Mum who first taught her how to cook, she volunteered for an organisation that made meals for elderly people who were unable to feed themselves, as well as cooking for orphanages and shelters. She has volunteered ever since Jiho was young, and still volunteers today. Jiho first began helping by watching her Mother and setting the tables, she had to do the groundwork before she was allowed to pick up a knife. Once she made it into the kitchen she discovered huge joy in what it takes to prepare a meal, make a meal, and especially seeing someone enjoy it. This feeling stuck and gave her the drive to peruse cooking more.
At 15 Jiho took part in a month long school exchange to Australia, the trip blew her culinary mind. Her host parents cooked food she did not even know existed. For the first time she was eating roast chicken and gravy, and homemade burgers for dinner – in Korea burgers are a snack, you don’t eat them for dinner, and you definitely don’t make them at home. I loved the enthusiasm she still had for the food as she told us about this exchange. Jiho knew after this trip that when she was old enough she was going to move to Australia.
Australia was first on the cards, but Sam wasn’t so sure. They thought about Europe, but it was her Mum who had recently been to New Zealand who convinced them that it was too beautiful a country not to go to. So Jiho and Sam got married and moved to New Zealand.
Both Jiho and Sam are great cooks, but they wanted to learn more of the basics of cooking while in New Zealand. After 3 months in English school they spent a year in culinary school, and both managed to get jobs in kitchens right after graduating. These jobs were good, but their naturally serene natures did not quite align with the somewhat highly intense environments of the kitchens they were in. Both, again, being so creative and driven looked for something more suited to who they were and what they believed in. In amongst a few more kitchens, cafés and retail jobs, they started Walk in the Park, where Sam could stretch his furniture making muscles, and Jiho could get back into photography.
Now, after 6 years in New Zealand, they are both exactly where they should be. Sam is turning full time for their brand Walk in the Park, and Jiho is working full time as a freelance photographer, and they are both getting back into cooking and eating more Korean food. Jiho has also just launched Jiho’s Kitchen @jihoskitchen where she will work through and explain the simple beauty of Korean pantry basics. I cannot wait to learn more.
Jiho’s Mum used to make this meal for her when she was a kid as a way to get her to eat vegetables. Chopping the vegetables up into small pieces, mixing them with rice, hiding them under a blanket of egg, then distracting her with a cute tomato sauce picture is really smart!
You can fool four people into eating their veggies with this recipe, use any vegetables you please or go with the ones below because they were so yum with the rice and egg.
- White rice / enough to serve 4 people
- 4 eggs
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 zucchini
- 2 brown mushrooms
- Olive Oil
- Salt + Pepper
- Tomato sauce / pictures optional
- Cook your rice to perfection and let it cool down to room temperature in a bowl
- Finely chop the onion
- Chop your vegetables into little cubes
1. Heat your pan on a low heat
2. Crack an egg into a bowl and mix with a pinch of salt
3. Add 1 tbs of olive oil to the warm pan
4. Pour in your first egg into the pan, spread the egg around the pan to make a full circle
5. Cook the egg very slowly until it gets a nice yellow colour
6. Carefully flip the egg and cook the other side
7. Repeat this until you have 4 pan sized egg pancakes, set aside
8. Increase the pan to a medium heat and add 1tbs of olive oil
9. Add the onions to the pan and sweat until nice and soft
10. Add your hardest vegetable to the pan with the onions, in this instance it’s the carrot, and stir for a few minutes
11. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until all are nice and brown
12. Reduce the heat to low - warm rice on a hot pan will cause it to stick
13. Add the rice to the pan with the vegetables and gently stir
14. Season with salt and pepper to taste
15. In a small bowl, press in a few heaped spoonfuls of the rice and vegetables
16. Flip the small bowl over onto a plate to make a little rice and veggie dune
17. Cover your dune with the egg pancake
18. Using the back of a dinner knife, tuck the edges of the egg under the rice and veggie dune to completely cover it
19. Squeeze a cute picture on top with tomato sauce and enjoy!
Fruit Sarada (salad) & Mayonnaise
I was not prepared for just how good this salad was. It was a great combination of sweet and savoury, with the crunch and sweetness of the fruit, the chewy pieces of pasta, and the soft egg, it is a very unexpected match made in heaven.
This salad came from the west, and it is mostly eaten alongside Korean BBQ.
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 2 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 250ml olive oil
1. Prepare 2 egg yolks, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl
2. Mix with the whisk or stick blender while slowly adding a drizzle of olive oil a little bit at a time, whisk until it gets nice, thick and creamy
- 50g macaroni
- 2 boiled egg
- 1 apple
- 1 persimmon
- 1 mandarin
- salt + pepper
- Cook the macaroni in salty boiling water, and let it cool
- Boil eggs for about 7 minutes, and cool
- Chop the fruit into bite size chunks
- Finely chop the chives
1. Peel and chop the eggs into bit size chunks
2. Put all ingredients in a bowl
3. Mix in the mayonnaise
4. Season with salt and pepper
5. Sprinkle with chives and enJoy