Violinist Sunho Kim enjoys creating fine-tuned meals. As assistant concertmaster with the Kansas City Symphony since 2008, Kim brings a taste of Seoul, South Korea, to her Kansas City table.
Kim, along with her husband of one year, percussionist Christopher McLaurin, enjoy inviting others over to eat, which usually ends up in a repeat performance.
Q: Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. How do you plan to celebrate?
A: This Sunday, May 29th, the Symphony is performing a free outdoor concert for the Bank of America Celebration at the Station. I love to perform outside, and it is inspiring to have Union Station as the backdrop to this relaxed, outside venue. People bring lawn chairs, blankets and food to enjoy the patriotic concert and fireworks display.
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The event site opens at 1 o’clock, so people can picnic early on the north lawn of the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. There will also be food trucks there if people don’t want to pack their own food.
Musically, it’s wonderful to see how these patriotic songs bring the city together in honor of those who gave their lives for freedom. And it’s a great way to bring the whole city together to start the summer season.
Q: You left Korea to pursue your music career when you were 16 years old and came to Kansas City eight years ago. What are the biggest differences you have noticed between how Americans and Koreans eat?
A: My Korean heritage has taught me to eat lots of vegetables and fruit. In fact, fruit is the one thing I always have in my refrigerator. Americans have taste buds that like meat, cheese, sugar and fried foods.
Food is so plentiful here, with so many different choices. My husband and I make a lot of different kinds of foods together, such as Italian, Indian, Chinese and French dishes. We went to Tokyo for our honeymoon, and now we enjoy making ramen together.
I try to go back to Korea at least once a year, but my parents are coming to visit in June. It will be fun to take them on a culinary tour of Kansas City restaurants. I love eating, and now, more than ever, Korean food seems to be gaining in popularity.
Q: Why did you choose this particular Korean barbecue recipe to share?
A: This is a cut of short ribs started by first-generation Korean immigrants in Los Angeles and based on my mom Hyo-won Lee’s recipe. She is an amazing cook, and while every culture has its own version of barbecue, Korean style is really hot.
I also make a dipping sauce made from gochujang and miso paste. If you marinate the meat beforehand, this is an easy summer dinner, and it can be cooked on the grill or pan-fried.
This can be a different twist to a traditional American summer barbecue. The recipe traditionally uses beef, but you can also use pork ribs, cut across the bone. Also, it is delicious served with kimchi — a spicy fermented cabbage dish — and rice. You can also make a lettuce wrap using the meat, rice and kimchi, too.
Q: Both good food and music have qualities that can be transcendent — evoking emotions or memory. In what ways do you think food and music intersect?
A: You must be fully engaged, whether you’re preparing a piece of music or a meal. Both require you to be organized, and you must give both your focus and attention for an outcome that is enjoyable. The end of a meal or a concert isn’t about the cook or musician, it is about sharing the experience. I don’t do what I do in a concert or kitchen for the accolades — I can’t control people’s reactions. For me, going through the process, doing my best and sharing it with others is reward enough.
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Send email to her at email@example.com to nominate a cook.
Memorial Day concert
Enjoy the Kansas City Symphony's 14th annual Bank of America Celebration at the Station on Sunday at 8 p.m. at Union Station (Pershing and Main streets) in Kansas City. Pack a picnic, bring lawn chairs and blankets to relish this free concert. For more information, go to kcsymphony.org/Celebration or call 816-471-0400.
Kim’s Korean Beef Ribs or Kalbi
The flanken cut is when ribs are cut across the bone, as opposed to being cut between the bones. Each piece has three to four short sections of bone with a portion of meat around it. Call ahead for availability to purchase ribs from Asian markets or McGonigle's Market, 1307 W. 79th St., Kansas City, 816-444-4720. Ribs cost about $10/pound.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
4 to 4 1/2 pounds beef ribs, cut flanken-style
1 small Asian pear, peeled, cored and diced
1 small onion, diced
12 cloves garlic, skins removed
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons mirin or sweet white wine
5 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 scallions, washed and diced
1 cup water
Prepared rice and kimchi, for serving
Submerge ribs in a large bowl of ice water for 20 minutes to rinse meat of impurities and bone fragments.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, blend pear, onion, garlic, ginger root, pepper, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and sesame oil until well incorporated. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag and add scallions and water. Seal bag and gently shake to mix the marinade.
Pat ribs dry with paper towels and place into bag of marinade. Reseal bag tightly and lie flat in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or, optimally, overnight.
Prepare a hot fire in grill or heat grill pan over high heat on stovetop. Remove ribs from plastic bag and discard any remaining marinade. Place seasoned beef onto heated grill or grill pan and sear on one side for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn ribs over and sear on other side for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. The hotter the grill or pan, the more fat will render off ribs.
Serve immediately with sides of rice and kimchi.
Per serving, based on 4: 623 calories (51 percent from fat), 34 grams total fat (13 grams saturated), 132 milligrams cholesterol, 21 grams carbohydrates, 54 grams protein, 903 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.