When Chicago attorney Joanne Lee Molinaro went vegan in 2016, she didn’t want to stop eating her favorite Korean meals. So she researched how to veganize dishes like gyerranmari, a Korean-style omelet, and posted recipes to her blog, the Korean Vegan. She also peppered in stories about her parents, who escaped North Korea as children before immigrating to the United States as young adults.
Her cookbook, The Korean Vegan Cookbook: Reflections and Recipes From Omma’s Kitchen, is an offshoot of her popular TikTok account, which she launched in July 2020, amassing more than 2.6 million followers. In her videos, she prepares dishes and tells stories of her family. In one, which also appears in the book, she makes fried rice while recalling how her mother was homeless as a child refugee in South Korea and survived on raw sweet potatoes dug from abandoned fields. As Molinaro heats oil, she expresses an understanding of the hardness she perceived in her mother, and as she pours egg substitute and spoons in rice, both the meal and the story come together. “I realize she felt she had to be that way to make sure I never had to dig for my food,” she says. Out October 12.