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How do you like your kimchi? ^^

Lest I should take the WFD thread too far off topic, and inspired by an exchange with onceadaylily, I thought I'd post the question here.

Me? I like it at various stages of fermentation for various reasons. I love taking a few bites of freshly made kimchi just by itself, but not as an accompaniment for other food.

After the first few hours, I don't care for it as much until a little bit of the tang of fermentation starts to kick in. Depending on the weather, this could be 1 or 2 days in the summer, and up to a week or more in winter.

When it just begins to sour, I like it as a side to meat - boiled or steamed pork belly especially. That is one of my comfort foods for sure.

And then when it's all gone to fermentation hell, it's perfect for kimchi jjigae and bokkeum bahp (fried rice).

Lots of others seem to be in the either/or camp: fermented or not.

How do you like your kimchi?

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  1. 3 times a day?

    i like kimchi any day of the year, with or without food/beer.

    actually, i was planning to go to Seoul to fulfill my dream of eating kimchi 3 times a day but have decided Taipei is more urgent. have never been to either. besides, a childhood friend is currently working/living there so the timing is perfect. sometime next week.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Pata_Negra

      Lucky dog. :)

      I've never been to Taipei. (But Seoul is a blast, especially if you like to eat and drink late and then karaoke afterward. :) )

      Safe travels. Do report back on the food!!!

      1. re: Pata_Negra

        Have fun in Taipei, and definitely check out the night markets.

        And yes, three times a day. I've been served kimchi for breakfast in Seoul.

        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

          kimchi fried rice, the world's greatest hangover cure... LOL (really)

          1. re: KaimukiMan

            There's a Korean soup that literally translates into "Hangover soup." It's fantastic whether you're hung over or not!


            1. re: joonjoon

              When I was in Korea, my friends swore by spicy bean sprout soup (with extra kimchi) as the ultimate hangover cure. It was pretty good.

              1. re: joonjoon

                Pork back bone soup! A moment of parental bliss. Sitting in the morning w/ my 2 sons and son's to be Korean BIL, eating pork back bone soup, then off to meet the women and the wedding.
                We were So Ju-ish the night before.

        2. I like kimchi throughout its lifecycle. When it is younger, I can eat it straight out of the jar. Give it a little more tang and it's still great, though it benefits from some starch or a light saute. This is the time when it's assertive enough to pair with cheese and sauces, though not so tangy it will overwhelm a dish. But once it has gotten so tangy that it feels effervescent on the tongue, it definitely benefits from cooking. In the summertime, kimchi doesn't typically last long enough to get to that stage, but in the wintertime I will leave kimchi to age for jjigae.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JungMann

            So I take it you like kimchi pizza, JM? :)

          2. I don't know, I have just recently began eating it, after trying an INCREDIBLE kimchi pancake at Parks BBQ. So I thought about making it, but still haven't gotten to a K-town grocer to get the goo-I-don't remember-what-its-called red pepper paste. spice that you need. So others on the LA board recommended getting a jar at the store, but avoid the ones w MSG. Hard to find ones without MSG. So I broke down and bought a jar. Still waiting to open it. Yes, I am a lame white girl, can't you tell?? Next time I make bul gogi, I'll break it out!! At least I know my DH loves it!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Phurstluv

              You mean gochoojahng? You don't need that stuff for kimchi pancakes. :)

              A good all purpose dipping sauce for any kind of Korean pancakes is soy sauce with a bit of vinegar, dash of sugar, a clove of smashed garlic, some chili flakes (you can use the kind you get for pizza if you don't have the Korean stuff in your pantry) and some chopped green onions added right before you serve.

              And for me, the pancakes definitely take to fermented kimchi better than fresh.

              1. re: inaplasticcup

                I thought I needed it to make homemade kimchi which would go into the pancakes : ) But now I have a jar, so will do them that way, when I get around to making bul gogi again, love that stuff. Still want to get back to K-town, though, maybe I can go w/ BUWaT on one of our excursions! Will let you know! ; )

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  LOL. I just assumed you're one of the kimchi buying peeps like the bad Korean that I am. I have to be inspired to make kimchi. :)

            2. I've never had it any way but fresh, most likely always from a jar, mostly in restaurants. I love it; it appeals to my fondness for its European cousin, sauerkraut, and adds dimensions of spice and flavor. My first bite, at a Korean restaurant upstairs in a building across from the Japan Center in SF, sometime around '68, was probably the best revelation of the meal. But in all that time I've never had it except at restaurants or the occasional international food fair. However, there's a man who is selling a variety of kimchis at a weekly farmer's market I go to, and now I'm thinking I should stop and talk to him about what else one can do with this beyond simply eating it fresh and cold. Not that there's a thing wrong with that!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Will Owen

                We often make it in large batches - I think partly because making a proper kimchi can be a somewhat involved process, and we want to maximize the effort - so we find all kinds of ways to use it. In the pancakes that Phurstluv mentioned, in stew, in soup, in a stir fry, in fried rice, steamed...

                Most of the cooked preparations are intended for kimchi that's long into the fermented state. Hope you'll try some of them. They're really delicious. :)

              2. I really miss the stages of kim chee since I left Seoul a couple of decades ago. My friends mom came and did kim jjang for us, three big pots out on the balcony of my Seoul Apartment. It lasted from mid/late November till the end of march, at which point it made the most amazing jjigae and bokkum bhap. I still have two of the pots that I use as end tables.

                Here in Honolulu I buy kim chee occasionally, but it is always fresh, and I just can't convince myself to leave it out on the counter for a few days to let it ferment. And there is nothing like fermeted kim chee to liven up that 4th of July hot dog or burger. Thanks for bringing back some great food memories.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  Wow. You lugged the earthenware jars back from Seoul??? They are pretty awesome...

                  So I'm guessing you buy the small bottle of kimchi and go through it so quickly it doesn't ferment in the fridge. When I buy or make the large bottle, it invariably ferments in the fridge and there's always sour stuff left over for jjigae.

                2. I find that just a trace of sugar really improves the flavor of kimchee greatly. The faint sweetness rounds it out nicely and contrasts well with all the tartness and sourness. Be careful, though, because if it tastes "sweet" you have added too much sugar.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Tripeler

                    I've noticed the same thing. My favorite kimchee is served at San Tung, a Northern Chinese restaurant in SF. Their kimchee has a mild BBQ sauce note and is delicious and very accessible.

                    1. re: Tripeler

                      I often add sugar to dishes in which I cook the kimchi. And if you cook it with just enough oil, it takes on this really lovely caramelized flavor. :)

                    2. Any way I can get it. But I do have a serious love for fresh kimchi - probably because it doesn't last long in that state.

                      My favorite ways to eat kimchi:
                      Fresh: With pork, like a simple Bo Ssam.
                      Tangy: In a roll with sesame oil toasted seaweed. (Kimchi Gim Bap)
                      Sour: Again with pork, but this time in a stir fry. Or Kimchi Chigae!
                      Way beyond sour: Caramelized kimchi; make it the same way you would caramelized onions, finish with sesame oil and mirin. I call this Kimchi Crack Candy. All you need is a spoonfull of this stuff and a bowl of rice...time to go to town! You can also use this caramelized kimchi as a base for an awesome kim-chili.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: joonjoon

                        I remember reading another comment you posted about that caramelized kimchi and thinking it did sound a little crackish... :)

                      2. ...in a state that gives me instant cat's-bum-mouth :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: montrealeater

                          Oh then you'd love the stuff that's made with oysters. :)))

                        2. I like it all ways - really fresh, fermented, in fried rice, in ramen, in mandu. Mmm. I even got used to eating it for breakfast when I was in Korea. I taught English there for a year :)

                          1. I may lose my Korean credentials, but I hated kimchi until I got older. When my mother was pregnant with me, she lost all her taste for the stuff and regained it after my birth. When my sister didn't want me to touch her food, she would spread either pickle or kimchi juice on it.

                            Now I really appreciate it, but am really picky about it. Most kimchi served at Korean restaurants don't pass my test. They're either too old or too sweet. My version of perfect kimchi is at Gahm Mi Oak in NYC. They've got the perfect level of sweetness and fermentation. Not too funky but not too young. Leaves a slight tang on your tongue. I do like freshly made kimchi as well, but I don't really consider it kimchi but more of a Korean salad. Never really liked the old stuff -- the idea of kimchi in casserole kind of makes me sick. But I can definitely appreciate the kimchi and pork belly stir-fries.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              I love Gahm Mi Oak's kimchi too! They have my favorite kimchi in all of NYC. And no worries - I didn't eat kimchi until in late teens. The only time I would eat it is when I was eating Korean BBQ, and even then sliced very, very thin and one slice at a time with lots of beef and rice. Now I like it - can't say love, like I couldn't eat rice with kimchi all by itself. Hmm - maybe we will both lose our KP creds.

                              1. re: uwsister

                                Gahm Mi Oak really does have some great kimchi. I've tried making it myself. Fine, but not quite up to GMO's standards.

                                Ah! Another kindred spirit! I've had so many Korean people tell me that I wasn't really Korean if I couldn't eat kimchi.

                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  You need to go to the Kimchi Museum, not too far from the Olympic stadium in Seoul.

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    About 20 years ago, a trip to the kimchi museum would have made me running for the hills. Now it would be really cool. A trip to Korea is certainly long overdue -- has been about 30 years! I know it's changed quite a bit.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                      Man I'm so bummed we didn't make it this summer a new grandson in May.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Congratulations, Pdk. Hope you get back to meet him soon. :)

                                      2. re: Miss Needle

                                        30 years - oh my! You will be in for a shock! Haha. My parents have been living there for a while now so I've been going back pretty consistently in past few years. Still haven't been to kimchi museum though - will have to check that out next time.

                                    2. re: Miss Needle

                                      >I've had so many Korean people tell me that I wasn't really Korean if I couldn't eat kimchi.

                                      Oh, me too. All my life. Kindred spirit indeed. And now kimchi is more known and popular, there are all these non-Korean people who tell me "You're Korean and you don't like kimchi? I *LOVE* that stuff!" Like my Caucasian husband whose favorite meal is kimchi and rice - for him GMO kimchi is not spicy enough. I think it's perfect.

                                2. Kimchi So Ju shooters. Believe it.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Dear God. That was one way I did not try soju. The lemon kettles nearly wrecked me though.

                                    1. re: BabsW

                                      I had 2 sons teaching in Seoul. We'd get a little crazy during visits.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        I can believe it. lol I taught in Seoul as well. 1996/97 Good times. :)

                                        1. re: BabsW

                                          Eldest is still there. 6 years, 2 kids.
                                          I grow chinese cabbage here in Maine, just so I can make kimchi: kimcheed turnips, daikon, radishes and carrots too.

                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Oh, as much as I love regular kimchi with bok choy, the daikon radish kimchi / kkakdugi is my absolute favorite!

                                            I'd love to go back to visit or perhaps to teach again. Maybe after my kids are in college.

                                            1. re: BabsW

                                              TAKE YOUR KIDS W/ YA!The boys were born in Norway & Finland, while I was running schools there. They are citizens of the world. Chowdogs par excellance and Ivy alumns.

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                I would love to, but i'm afraid that neither the ex-husband nor the custody arrangement would agree to that. :/

                                                FWIW, the kids have both said that they'd love for us to travel together. :)

                                                BTW Finland is one of my favorite places on earth. I definitely have to go back there.

                                                  1. re: uwsister

                                                    Hey, I'm a citizen of the worldtoo! I'd druther eat kimchi, bulgagii, kimbap, etc than a Big Muck, any day!