Mondays With Mom #3

My mom cooked at her carry-out in Southeast DC for eight years. She had a following. Her regulars knew her as Mrs. Kim. She knew them by name and order. Hugo got the steak and cheese sub, Jack got his eggs sunny side up, Jones wanted sausage and egg with coffee, Joe got a scrapple egg biscuit sandwich. While my mom did most of the cooking, my dad dispensed drinks, worked the cash register, and chatted with the customers. That’s where he picked up his English, a funny fusion of jive with a Korean accent. He did bake some mean biscuits from scratch. Their place was called Quality Carry-out. The Q, T, and Y on the sign were missing and never did get replaced.

Eight years of waking up at 3 in the morning to cook would make me want to stay out of the kitchen for the rest of my life. But my mom still cooks and enjoys it. The trouble with asking her how to cook some of these dishes is that she doesn’t have any measurements. It’s a handful of that, a dash of this, a pinch of that… I must learn how to cook Korean food. The tradition will not end with me.

My mom’s very sketchy recipe for Korean bulgogi/kalbi marinade: some soy sauce, lots of sugar, lots of mashed garlic, some ginger, an onion, pureed kiwi to tenderize the meat, some sesame oil, and orange slices. Great, just great.

The food.

Japchae: transparent noodles with veggies.

Bulgogi: fire meat.

Bok choy, perilla leaves, bean sprouts.

Radish kimchi.

A customer took this very rare picture of my mom at Quality and gave it to her. She has no other photos of her working there. That’s scrapple she’s cooking. See the stack of eggs? She’d go through four crates in one morning.

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Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm  Comments (15)  

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15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. patti, it’s really beautiful to read these tributes to your mom. and the food photos are really gorgeous. there may be a new vocation there!

  2. Thank you, Joyce. As long as my mom keeps cooking, I’m going to keep taking pictures. I wish my parents had more photos of that place and the food they served.

  3. I look forward to Mondays with your mom. The food looks so good and that is so nice of your mom to take the food to you and your family. You are lucky to have a mom like that.

    • Thanks, Mindy. I do feel lucky and very grateful.

  4. I really look forward to Mondays with your mother. The food looks so good. You are very lucky to have a mother like that.

  5. I thought the reply didn’t go through but I guess it did. Sorry!!!

  6. I felt like I was reading an entry about my mom and dad’s early carry-out business days~ “Parkside” put me through college and seminary…
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for reading, Yena. I wish I had the wherewithal back then to appreciate them more.

  7. Yummmm, biscuits. I miss biscuits made from scratch.

  8. Yummm, biscuits. What a great talent to be able to make biscuits from scratch.

    • I know. Popping open that pillsbury container is enough work for me.

  9. That food looks amazing!! If I grew up in your house I would have been the size of a house!

  10. I grew up on fast food, Sima. It’s just now, my mom is really cooking Korean for us.

  11. Thank you for this, Patti. It reminded me of my parent’s carry-out days. I had an opportunity to help them out for one semester in college going to work at 4:30 AM every morning. Of course I hated getting up so early to go to work with them but I am so thankful now that I shared those moments with them. And you’re right about mom’s recipes. My mom’s instructions always include “add little bit of this and little bit of that and taste it”?!!! Your Momdays with mom brings me such warmth and fond memories of my own.

    • Jamie, I totally remember your mom. I hope she’s thriving. Not enough has been said about these amazing women. Thanks for taking this to heart!


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