Another highly anticipated debut that I read about at the Kirkus website’s “buzzed about books,” Miracle Creek is an immigrant story, a mystery, and a courtroom drama. The Yoos had come to the United States from Korea so their teenage daughter, Mary, could have a better life. Pak, the father had worked in Korea at a hyperbaric oxygen therapy facility, and with the financial backing of friends, was able to set up his own HBOT business, “Miracle Submarine,” in rural Miracle Creek, Virginia. The family lived modestly, saving as much as they could to pay back their investors. Plagued by demonstrators who daily showed up with signs reading, “I’m a Child Not a Lab Rat,” and “Quack Medicine = Child Abuse,” Pak worried that they would ultimately sabotage his facility in an attempt to put him out of business. When the chamber suddenly exploded, many were convinced that it had been at the hands of the protesters, but Pak’s wife and daughter, had their own secrets and suspicions. The courtroom drama is deftly drawn by the author, herself a former trial lawyer. I went off on several red herring tangents until I finally figured out what had actually happened, at the very end. A book I could not put down, and another long night of reading.
THE BEAUTY: Finding beauty was a challenge in this book where terrible things happened to change lives forever. What I was left with was the beauty of the human spirit, that can forge its way back from the depths of despair, and make peace in a world so different from the one in which they had been living in. Many of the characters in this book did just that, not alone but with the love and support of people who had shared their experience. Survival is a beautiful thing.
THE FOOD: Pak’s favorite meal, although they rarely had it because of the expense.
Korean Barbecue Ribs (Galbi)
2 lbs. beef short ribs, cut flanken style or boneless short ribs sliced ½ inch thick*
*A rule in my house is, when we make a new recipe, we always prepare it exactly as written. When I initially had trouble finding flanken cut short ribs, I decided to use boneless short ribs, as I had just made them recently in a successful recipe. My usual butchery (2 actually) didn’t even have boneless. After many calls, I ended up at Whole Foods, where, to my surprise, they had flanken cut short ribs. The butcher had already packaged my boneless ribs, and I didn’t like the look of the flanken, so I went with the boneless, flaunting our house rule. Since I have nothing to compare it to, I have no idea if it was mistake.
If you look closely you can see the bone on the right of each strip.
6 oz. pineapple juice
3 T chopped garlic
½ C chopped onion and scallion (food processor)
1 C soy sauce
3 T honey
1½ T sesame oil
¼ C Mirin
¾ C rice wine
½ C dashi
1 small Asian pear, finely grated
Mix together all marinade ingredients. Place beef and marinade in a zip lock bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove the meat from the marinade and set aside to grill. Grill for about 20 minutes until desired doneness is reached.
Pour the marinade in a saucepan, bring to a boil. Add 3 more tablespoons honey, Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Strain solids from the sauce. Make lettuce wraps with grilled meat, boiled rice, lettuce and sweet slaw.
1 red pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced
¼ tsp lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
1 T vinegar
2 T honey
Julienne carrot, cucumber, apple, and red pepper, and add to a salad bowl. Stir in scallions and lemon zest. For the dressing, mix together lemon juice, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over slaw, mix, and let sit for about 20 minutes.
I served this as a lettuce wrap, starting with a leaf of Romaine, on top of which I put a couple of teaspoons of a combination of white and brown boiled rice, meat, marinade, and sweet slaw. It had a very distinct flavor, sweet, and unlike anything I had tasted before, but good. The whole meal was labor intensive, and even though we got three more meals out of it all, I won’t be making it again. However, I am on the prowl for a good Korean barbecue restaurant!