[spicy guest post] Pippa Park’s Favorite Korean Stew by Erin Yun

So pleased to welcome NYC author Erin Yun to the blog today. Her debut middle grade novel, Pippa Park Raises Her Game (Fabled Films Press, 2020), is a contemporary reimagining of the Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.



Life is full of great expectations for Korean American Pippa Park. It seems like everyone, from her family to the other kids at school, has a plan for how her life should look. So when Pippa gets a mysterious basketball scholarship to Lakeview Private, she jumps at the chance to reinvent herself by following the “Rules of Cool.”

At Lakeview, Pippa juggles old and new friends, an unrequited crush, and the pressure to perform academically and athletically while keeping her past and her family’s laundromat a secret from her elite new classmates. But when Pippa begins to receive a string of hateful, anonymous messages via social media, her carefully built persona is threatened.

As things begin to spiral out of control, Pippa discovers the real reason she was admitted to Lakeview and wonders if she can keep her old and new lives separate, or if she should even try.



There are so many things I love about this book: timely themes (ethnic identity, social class, assimilation, friendship, family dynamics), an engaging fast-paced plot, believable characters, just-right humor and tween drama, and lots of mouthwatering food descriptions that make me long for my mom’s Korean cooking. Who could resist a delicious Chuseok feast of homemade galbi, gimbap, japchae, and sweet rice cakes?

Like her plucky heroine Pippa, Erin loves walnut cakes with red bean filling as well as kimchi-jjigae. Wish I had a bowl right now! 🙂




by Erin Yun


“He held a spoonful of kimchi-jjigae toward me and I slurped the broth down, savoring the strong, spicy flavor.” – Pippa Park Raises Her Game

 In my debut book, Pippa Park Raises Her Game, Pippa adores kimchi-jjigae just like I did growing up. My mom would make kimchi-jjigae in the evening, so I’d already be in my pajamas when I settled down at the kitchen table with a steaming bowl of this classic Korean stew. I would savor that first spoonful of spicy, tangy broth before digging past the kimchi for tender bits of pork. Mmm.

Kimchi-jjigae is a warm, cozy stew made from kimchi. It’s commonly made with pork and tofu, but it’s also easy to customize with whatever ingredients you have in your kitchen—which is exactly what my mom wanted to do when we recently cooked this dish together.

The first thing we did was make a simple anchovy stock. We tossed more than a dozen dried anchovies (with the guts removed) into a pot of water and boiled them for about twenty minutes until the stock turned a pale yellow.


Meet the master kimchi-jjigae chef — my mom!


While the anchovies cooked, we chopped up enough kimchi to cover a cutting board. Reminder from my mom: use quality kimchi!



My mom had high-quality kimchi from her sister, who shipped it over from Korea. While many recipes for kimchi-jjigae include gochujang (a spicy, slightly sweet pepper paste) and gochugaru (hot pepper flakes) for more flavor, my mom focused on the sour flavor of the quality kimchi.



Once the anchovies turned our clear water into a yellow stock, we took out the anchovies and poured the kimchi into the pot. While that cooked, we chopped up some scallions, garlic, hot peppers, and a few fish cakes we had in the fridge. I add mushroom and tofu to mine as well. Usually thick, succulent pork belly is used in kimchi-jjigae, but since my mom wanted to emphasize how easy it is to adapt this stew to your refrigerator’s contents, we diced up some ham instead. Put everything into the pot, and let it simmer!



Whether you follow a more traditional recipe or customize it with whatever you have on hand, the end result is a spicy, flavorful stew that will warm your heart as much as it warms your stomach. For Pippa Park and me, it’s our go-to comfort food!




Debut author Erin Yun grew up in Frisco, Texas. She received her BFA in English from New York University and served as president of its policy debate team. This experience came in handy for her job as the debate consultant for the Tony-nominated Best Play on Broadway–What the Constitution Means to Me. Erin is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and has written reviews and articles for BookBrowse. She currently lives in New York City, and yes—she used to play basketball as a middle grader!



written by Erin Yun
published by Fabled Films Press, February 2020
Diverse Fiction for ages 10-12, 288 pp.

♥️ Visit the Official Pippa Park Raises Her Game Website for a list of cool Resources, an Educator’s Guide, a Q&A with Erin, and lots more.

♥️ Enjoy this video of Erin reading an excerpt from her book:





Copyright © 2020 Erin Yun for Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

9 thoughts on “[spicy guest post] Pippa Park’s Favorite Korean Stew by Erin Yun

  1. The book sounds like a wonderful addition for middle-schoolers & I love that you’ve linked it to a stew unfamiliar to me, Jama. Congratulations to Erin & it was fun to hear her read, too!

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