BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: JEANA SOHN

Korean-born artist, photographer and fashion designer, Jeana Sohn, creates elegant and thoughtful pieces for women. Inspired by Seoul’s minimalist aesthetic and her creative community in Los Angeles, she designs the sophisticated wardrobe essentials we want to live in. In the kitchen, the story is much the same. Blending the flavors of her childhood with California ingredients to make food that is uniquely her own, her marriage of cultures has us craving a meal at Cafe Jeana, the term her friends lovingly have dubbed her home kitchen. Read on to discover her favorite dishes to cook for company and her take on a nourishing favorite: caramelized eggplant over rice.

What is your food philosophy?

Honestly, I just eat what I like. I have a major sweet tooth and love carbs. Eating what I love is a huge part of my happiness so I don’t restrict myself from “bad” stuff too much. However, I do make sure to keep in mind nutrition and portion control. I think it’s all about being moderate.  

 

How do you start the day? 

As a mom, first thing I do is make my son’s breakfast and school lunch. After he goes to school, I like to brew myself a cup of coffee and take a quick shower. Wednesday and Thursday mornings are when I do pilates and I usually only eat breakfast on days I’m exercising. Thursday mornings are when I like to get a pressure point face massage from Korea town. They make me feel so restored! Since the pandemic, I’ve been craving a lot more self care, and always feel better when I take the time to nurture myself. 

 

Tell us about your clothing line, Jeana Sohn, and how it came to be.

When I was a photographer, all my designer friends’ would ask me to shoot their lookbooks. Since I was around them so often, I got to see their process up close and it looked very interesting to me. One day I realized that It was too hard to find the clothes I wanted to wear so I started designing my own. Long story short, I launched Jeana Sohn in Fall of 2018.  Our mission is to create minimal and elegant everyday pieces for modern women that focus on high quality fabrics and materials.

What's always in your fridge?

Kimchi, wine, coconut water, oat milk, orange juice, butter, eggs, green onions, onions and stone fruit lately! 

 

What’s always in your pantry?

Seaweed, dried sea kelp, pasta, Tabasco, honey, ginger tea, chips and canned tomatoes. 

 

What do you miss most about the food culture in Korea?

I miss Korean street food so much! There are tons of amazing street vendors all over the city where you can find delicious food anywhere anytime. They are called Pojangmacha and some of them are open all night. A bowl of hot noodle soup on a cold winter night is one of my favorite memories. We are actually going to Korea this summer and I can’t wait to eat all the good food.  

Favorite kitchen tool? 

My espresso machine! I use it everyday.  My friends call our breakfast nook — "Cafe Jeana." They love coming over in the morning and I love being a barista for them.  

 

How has living in California changed the way you eat?

When I lived in Korea I ate Korean food almost all the time. Living in California,  I’ve been exposed to lots of food cultures and eat a variety of foods regularly. Los Angeles has an incredibly diverse food culture and it’s one of my favorite things about living here. 

 

What are your favorite places to dine-in or take-out in LA? 

I love Soban, Hangari noodles, Soowon galbi and Toki for Korean food. I also live five minutes from Cafe Stella so I go there often with friends. Lola, BacettiOtoto, Sushi Gen, Katsuya and Pizzeria Mozza are favorites as well!

What are your favorite dishes to make for company?

I love making simple Italian dishes like aglio e olio pasta and branzino or a full Korean spread like a big pot of seafood soup with a generous spread of vegetable side dishes.  

 

What are your favorite meals to cook for yourself?

Spicy kimchi noodles (Bibimguksu). 

 

Is there anything you don't eat?

Pork, lamb, duck, turkey and rabbit. Also cilantro!

GRILLED EGGPLANT OVER RICE

Serves 2

By Jeana Sohn

 

1 cup of rice (you can use either white or brown)

2 Japanese eggplants

1 egg (optional)  

 

FOR THE SAUCE

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili powder 

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

½ teaspoon plum extract

1 teaspoon chopped green onions.

1 teaspoon water  

 

First make rice and set aside (but keep warm!). Next, chop eggplants into bite sized pieces and also set aside.

Then, mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. When you're ready, heat up a frying pan with about a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When the pan is hot, add the eggplant and stir fry until they turn brown. The, pour the sauce over the eggplant and cook for two or three more minutes until the eggplant is soft. Serve it over hot rice. It is also great with a fried egg on top! 


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