Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The "omnipresent" KIMCHI


Kimchi is the most important food in Korea, with rice probably as the second. At first, I thought I should be writing about asia's staple, which is rice but then after eating at a 칼국수 (kalguksu) restaurant, I realize that we didn't have any rice during the meal, after all it was all noodles. But the one thing that caught my attention the most when eating out, is the presence of kimchi, no matter what kind of food you eat here in korea, there's always the kimchi.

Kimchi comes in many forms, besides the commonly known cabbage kimchi (baechu kimchi) , there's also radish kimchi (kaktugi), cucumber kimchi (oisobagi kimchi), even  "ponytail kimchi (chonggak kimchi) and many more.

Most Kimchis differ from one region to another, depending on the ingredients that have been added.

Kimchi needs to be fermented before it is served, but from experience, I prefer eating them fresh, in fact a lot of restaurants I know serve them fresh too.

They are usually kept in the refrigerator after being fermented or stored at room temperature for a couple of days. But in order to store and keep them in good condition, they have to be kept at a temperature lower than the refrigerator's temp and slightly higher to that of the freezer's temp.

It takes a lot of skill in order to achieve a well-made kimchi. I personally over the years during my stay in korea,  have made kimchi 5 times. Two of them have failed. I got it right the first time, but my 2nd and 3rd were too salty and too hot respectively.

The older the kimchi gets, it will sour more and they are best used when making stews such as the kimchi stew (kimchi jigae). Or you can use to stir fry them with rice. (kimchi fried rice).

Anyways, kimchi always needs to be on the table in every meal, some even during snacktime and most especially when you have a bowl of hot ramen noodles.

There are just times, when I forget to put out the kimchi on the table during mealtime. This just simple shows that I am not fully "koreanized" yet.

Image courtesy of www.naver.com