Obviously there are the recipes, but I've found that I've benefited from these sites in rather unexpected ways. Particularly now the forums are up and running. By answering others, and checking the accuracy of those answers, I've come across valuable information I didn't know.
- There was a recent post on Kimchi. When scrabbling around for some suitable links I discovered that New Malden (a small town on the outskirts of London) is the most densely populated area of Koreans outside of the Korean peninsula (over 30,000).
I feel really stupid for remaining unaware of this (although I'm comforted by the fact that this is a recent phenomenon, the Korean population there only increased significantly this century) but if I hadn't attempted to answer the question I would still be unaware.
I love Korean food, so, as soon as I receive my next paypacket, I'm going to do my shopping there. I feel nearly as excited about this as I would about going to South Korea itself!
- I found an economic supply of Nagaimo because Maki hooked me onto okonomiyaki (SeeWoo on Lisle Street, although supplies are erratic). There's more to it than this sentence probably suggests, my okonomiyaki saga was a long one, threaded with disappointment, and the Just Hungry site brought it to a very satisfying worthwhile conclusion.
- Another fond discovery through these sites was umekaka as an onigiri filling - I hadn't come across this before and it's unlikely I would have hit upon this combination by myself.
- The recommendation for Tokiko Suzuki's books have been invaluable as was the rec for Ikuko Hisamatsu's tsukemono recipes. These needed to be ordered so I would never have owned these books otherwise
But mostly, I feel like I've gained a family member to help me in the kitchen. Not only do I feel 'safe' making the recipes on these sites (so much work has gone into making them 'foolproof') but I feel much more confident about trying out new things and incorporating them into my repertoire, as well as knowing more about what those things were (like finding out that Zunda doesn't have tofu in it like I'd supposed :D ). If I'm not sure now, all I need to do is ask.
So thanks to Maki and to everyone else who has posted their comments and advice and questions in these sites and forums. I owe a lot to all of you!