We’re in the Confused-About-Eating-Well-Kitchen today, answering a question that has been asked by more than one fermented-food-newbie. Join us, won’t you? And–if you have any recommendations for this reader, oh please feel free to add your two-cents worth in the comments!
Gentle Reader Question: “So, I made kimchi last fall. I’ve got several jars of it in the ‘fridge. I know that it’s full of healthy bacteria and that I should get it into my families’ tummies, but gosh, they don’t fancy it! What should I do? (p.s. I like it. I just eat it out of the jar, although then I reek of garlic. Help!)”
Answer: Gentle Reader, I’m glad you asked! My family here at home avoids the kimchi jar sitting proudly in the ‘fridge, as well, much to my disappointment! I tell you what–I love my kimchi so much that when I open the ‘fridge and I see that half-empty jar sitting there, I automatically begin to drool. It’s Pavlovian, honest-to-Betsy, I love the stuff so much! And I thought that I was alone in my kimchi-craved-drooling, until Christmastime when both of my adorable daughters-in-law gasped when they saw my jar of kimchi in my o’er stuffed refrigerator. “Is that kimchi?” asked Sonia. “We were both just talking about how we were craving kimchi!” agreed Rachel.
I was pleased–ecstatic, actually–to share my kimchi with these lovely girls, since not one of my family at home has deigned to take a single solitary taste. Not one. Isn’t that a shame? So Sonia, Rachel and I got out little bowls and right away fell on the kimchi like ravenous wildebeests.
My daughts-in-law are remarkable young ladies. Both my boys definitely married up. They are raising my grandchildren to eat things that my children at home still won’t eat–well done, girls!–and they seemed to enjoy my kimchi, too.
So, Gentle-Reader-in-Question, I feel your kimchi-related pain. Actually, I feel your wanting-to-share-your-love-of-kimchi-with-the-fam pain. So here we go. I did a very casual poll of all the people in my life who eat kimchi (to my knowledge) and I have learned oodles of ways to enjoy kimchi. Seven, to be exact. My advice: try them one by one, and surely your family will like one of them! And you may want to start out with very teensy quantities, by the way. It is (as you know) perilously strong stuff. (At least mine is!)
By the way, a bit of kimchi lore, for those of you who aren’t lucky enough (ahem) to have somebody in your life making it for you (cough). Kimchi is very popular in Korea, and other Asian countries, too. In fact, Koreans eat nearly 40 lbs. of kimchi per person each year, enjoying it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Kimchi was originally fermented as a preservation technique for food during winter. It turns out the fermentation has more benefits than just preservation: it also promotes the growth of healthy probiotic bacteria along the intestinal tract. In fact, kimchi is higher in lactobacilli—one of the healthy probiotics that can help alleviate digestive problems, such as an upset stomach—than yogurt!
If you’ve recently been through an illness where you had to take antibiotics or other drugs, you might want to add kimchi to your daily diet, to replenish the good bugs in your gut.
Kimchi is extremely low in calories, fat and sugar; high in fiber; and packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and iron. You can buy it, of course, like this Seoul Kim Lucky Food’s Kimchi, but it is so easy to make, that you’ll want to make it for yourself. In fact it’s a good time now, as you are planning your garden and ordering your seeds, to plan to raise a bit extra for a winter’s supply of kimchi. I plant extra carrots, watermelon radishes, cabbage, onions, garlic, and chili peppers, just so I have enough to make plenty of kimchi. 🙂 Oh, and ginger!
But, back to my reader’s question: it can be a puzzlement to us non-Koreans, on how to
get it down our family’s throats share its goodness with our families, those who might be reluctant to indulge in such a . . . adventurously tangy taste treat. 🙂
1. Rachel’s way: My daughter-in-law says that for a quick lunch, she piles hot rice into a bowl, plops a hot fried egg on top of that, and then puts kimchi on top of that. Yum. I can attest that this is a delicious lunch.
2. Sonia’s way: Sonia eats her kimchi with hot rice and an egg, too, or as a sandwich condiment.
3. Jamie’s way: “I keep it in the ‘fridge and just eat it straight out of the jar. I know, how tacky but hey, I’m the only one in the house that eats it so who cares right?!”
(My thoughts exactly, Jamie, since I do the same thing! 😉
4. This way: Kimchi fried rice: We make fried rice quite often at our house, whenever we have a bit of leftover rice and/or meat. And there are always veg available. Here’s how you make it: Put a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan (or a wok), stir chopped kimchi and chopped onion and smashed and chopped garlic, and fry them for a while until they look translucent and browned a bit. Add any leftover veg you have: broccoli, carrots, celery, fresh green beans, halved brussels sprouts, and whatnot. Add leftover pork or chicken. Add cooked white rice. Mix and stir until steaming hot. Add a generous portion of sesame seed oil and sesame seeds, and serve with chop sticks.
5. Or that way: Grilled Kimchi sandwich! Spread your favorite mayonnaise on a piece of whole wheat bread, spread kimchi on top of that, some good cheese (I would recommend sharp cheddar or colby), and then grill. Melty, spicy, crunchy kimchiyumness! Do you have a countertop grill that makes the fun little grill marks in your sammage? Even better!
6. Tom’s way: Says Tom: “The traditional Korean way of eating kimchi is this: Korean dishes are different than Chinese (well, American-Chinese) dishes as the vegetables, rice, and other fixins are separated from the meat/main course. The idea is to grab a different portion with your chopsticks, so you get a carousel of flavor as it were, or you can put all the different parts together in a seaweed wrap. Like a burrito, only not a traditional Mexican one.”
7. Andrew’s way:
When Andrew was in Japan as a college student, he was introduced to Okonomiyaki, which is a type of savory pancake made with kimchi as a primary ingredient. I found an easy-peasy recipe for it at this website, and I tweaked it a bit (natch) and I made it for lunch and it was quite toothsome, and the kiddos actually ate some! (Hello. It has bacon in it. What’s not to like? If your family is still reluctant, you might melt cheese on the tops of these pancakes. 😉 Or, add lots more bacon.)
Japanese style pancake Okonomiyaki
1/ 2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3 cups shredded cabbage or Chinese cabbage, or shredded bok choy
1/2 cup shredded kimchi
2 green onions, chopped
3 strips of prosciutto (or ham or bacon)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons water (or kimchi juice)
First, fry bacon or prosciutto and then leave a little bacon fat in the skillet.
Mix eggs and water (or kimchi juice).
Mix flour with baking powder and add to mixture.
Add onions, cabbage, kimchi, cheese, and crumbled fried bacon and stir until combined. Add another egg if the mixture is not wet enough to stick together.
Heat up the greased skillet and fry the batter as you would pancakes, for about 2 minutes, turning once, until golden on the outsides.
Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes at 350º.
There are lots of recipes for kimchi online. Here’s the one that I used last fall, and here’s one that I’m intrigued about using this year. It looks more authentic to me, although I would probably leave out the raw squid (I live in Nebraska, hello).
Thanks for popping in, Gentle Reader! Do you have a friend who might like this post? Then, by all means–please share it! And thank you! *hugs*
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