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May 4, 2010 12:59 PM

Kimchi for beginners?

Hi Hounds,

OK, I'll out myself: I've never had kimchi! Now I'm excited to take the plunge, but need some help:

1) Is there a good brand/kind to buy to get me started? The only problem is that I can't tolerate really spicy food, so is there a good "starter" kimchi that is not going to set my tongue on fire? I've heard that kimchi comes in all levels of hot, so please steer me to a mild one!

2) Any hints for where to find this in Boston/JP/Rozzie area?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. As an offshoot of this request, can anyone suggest a brand of store-bought kimchi that's super hot? I've yet to come across one.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jgg13

      Not sure if it qualifies as super-hot, but the jar I bought at HMart last week is a lot hotter than the stuff they usually carry at HK Market (formerly Super 88). It's labeled Tobagi brand, Premium Cabbage Kimchi with oyster.

    2. H-Mart in Burlington has a huge variety of kimchi and they are usually pretty friendly about letting you try some before purchasing. The spiciness and ripeness varies so this might be a good place for beginners.

      3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

      1. Click over to "Feed Me Like You Mean It." Alex has lots of Kimchi information including links to the 2010 Boston Kimchi Festival.



        1. You can buy non-spicy cabbage kimchi - look for the jars where you don't see any red. I've seen it occasionally at Hong Kong Market in Malden, and WHole Foods (forget if it was Medford or Woburn, tho... you could try the big WF in Dedham).

          1. I won't be helpful with specifics on brands, especially since I don't read Korean, but you will find one very common variety of kimchi (with English label) in all the Chinatown markets. DON'T get that brand unless you have to. I find it to be a bit off in taste - a strange slightly bitter after taste.

            I prefer the Korean brands found at local Korean markets. In Boston, you can try John's Market in Allston, which offers its own homemade kimchi (pretty good from what I've tasted). You can find a lot of jarred kimchi at Lotte in Cambridge or at Reliable in Union Sq.

            Kimchi comes in different varieties, radishes, napa, etc. My favorite is the radish cubes because of the crunch factor. I haven't noticed anything on the jars that suggest how spicy they are (but again, don't read Korean). I tolerate heat well, but don't find kimchi too spicy. My parents don't eat spicy food, and they find kimchi too much to handle. This may not bode well for you, if you don't care for spicy food.

            To really hit the jackpot in kimchi, go to HMart in Burlington - tons of store-made and jarred varieties.

            8 Replies
            1. re: kobuta

              I am really fond of the house-made kimchi at the Reliable. It is in the 'fish room' on the farthest wall in the refrigerator case.

              1. re: smtucker

                Here's a picture of the kimchi wall at Reliable. There are lots and lots of versions to work through. I learned to make it recently with my mom, I'm hoping to turn my pad into a kimchi factory -- super easy and fun!


                1. re: yumyum

                  And while I'm bragging, you should all see a picture of my gorgeous kimchi. It's burbly and fizzy now, but in a week, it is going to blow the roof off!


                  1. re: yumyum

                    I bow to you, oh great kimchee master. Gorgeous.

                    1. re: bear

                      This is why I've always liked you, bear.

                  2. re: yumyum

                    Holy cabbage! I need to get there stat. Hope they have my favorite panchan as well -- the cold strips of fish cake.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      and here is one part of the area at H-mart. There are 3 walls plus a whole center bulk-deli like area where they weigh it out and let you try samples. In this photo you can just see 1-1/4 of the walls.