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Jan 13, 2012 04:25 PM

Help me get over my fear of kimchee!

I finally bought a jar of kimchee from my local market. I have wanted to try it for a while, and it seems like I would like it, but for some reason I'm nervous!

Can you please suggest a good way to try it first? Thanks :)

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  1. Describe it a bit, or give us the name or key ingredients. It can range from a mild 'white' pickled cabbage, to something quite hot. It can be made from napa cabbage (most common), daikon, seeweed, cucumber, radish, etc.

    Normally it is eaten like any pickle - along with other meal items. You can cook with it as well, but for a start just open the jar and taste it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      Like paulj said, just taste it, you've probably got the standard cabbage type. It's going to be spicy and hot but it's not like your sticking a raw habanero in your mouth, nothing to be afraid of. You'll either like it or you won't!

    2. Lol. Girl, just twist off that top, get a clean fork, and dump a little into a small bowl. It won't tear off your soft palate, I swear. Once you taste it on its own, you'll know what it goes with.

      It's not like I just walked into your house with a gallon jar of my homemade kimchi (which is still fermenting until Sunday, anyway).

      1 Reply
      1. re: DuchessNukem

        Think of it as a kind of sauerkraut...because that's basically what it is. Try some plain on its own to get a feel for it.
        It's addictive...personally I love the stuff, and go through quite a bit of it using it as an accompaniment to meat dishes as well as in stir fry recipes (it's really great stir fried with strips of pork).

        The kind I buy is domestically made (in NY) and is not pasteurized, so the ferment actually continues slowly and it gets more pungent as it ages; since I like it ripe, I tend to not even open a jar until a week or more after I purchase it. If I've saved some for more than a month, it is particularly good in Korean style soups.

        It has been a regular part of my diet since it was first introduced to me by a Korean friend more than 30 years ago!

      2. I'm not sure I can write anything that will prepare you for sour, funky, spicy cabbage if you are not used to such a thing.

        I remember the first time I went to a Korean restaurant. For an American it is the oddest experience. Not only is much of the menu unrecognizable, but after I ordered the server started bringing me a half dozen strange-looking things I didn't even order. Or did I?

        Some were jellies, some exotic vegetables, some fishy looking and smelling. I had no idea what to think.

        Now I adore Koreran food. It is a taste worth acquiring. The best thing I can tell you is that you probably won't like it, but don't give up on it.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          Why would you assume she won't like it? I loved kimchi the first time I tried it - which happened to be in Korea. There's nothing scary about it at all, especially if you have any experience whatsoever eating any kind of spicy food. Now that I have had it, I just do not understand the fear. The Professor has it right - it's like spicy sauerkraut. Nothing crazy about that. Just taste it. It's delicious.

          1. re: hilltowner

            I said 'probably' because the OP stated she is nervous about trying it. Being nervous about trying something can be an imposing psychological hurdle.

            Fortunately, that was not the case, per the post below.

            1. re: Steve

              DH started out saying he hated kimchee- at this point I have no idea what it was he tasted that made him hate so much, but we went to a Japanese/Korean restaurant nearby and I caught that there was kimchee on the sampler menu and when he tried it I got him to admit that he liked it. Normally he's not the least bit squeamish about unfamiliar food (thank the good Lord), he must have had some bad kimchee first time around, maybe something I got at an Asian grocery, not knowing a thing about what makes kimchee good.. That's what I thought about yellowtail the first couple of times I tried it, it must not have been that great, I thought it was fishy and gross so the sushi chef overheard me and made up a little tasting of yellowtail- I became an immediate convert. Being nervous about trying something is normal, but one has to just flap one's wings and dive down into it sometimes.

        2. I make my own and it really goes with a wide variety of foods. Tonight I had a steak with wasabi mayo, and a side of kimchee. Treat it as you would a pickle or coleslaw and you will find it easy to eat!

          1 Reply
          1. re: sedimental

            You may not like it but there certainly is nothing to fear about trying it.
            I like it with just plain white rice. Even better to add some kind of grilled meat to that.
            I have been known to eat it, standing over the sink, out of the jar with some saltines.

          2. People either like it or they don't, nothing to be nervous about.
            The first time I had kimchi was in Korea and I loved it. A friend of mine tried it and didn't like it, so I had it all to myself.
            Kimchi will go with nearly anything, but is best with grilled pork belly - there is just something about that combination that puts it over the top.
            Eat it with plain rice, any meat, inside a leaf wrap, on a taco, by itself ------
            I eat it in omelets, wrapped around meat, in tortilla wraps, on hamburgers, in soups, fried rice, and Korean pancakes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: hannaone

              Nicely put hannaone.

              If you can get some new Kimchi it will be milder in taste.

              If you are timorous, open a tin of saurkraut and practice on that (honest)

              but once you enjoy Kimchi there is no going back....

              1. re: hannaone

                Won bok kim chee (the cabbage kind) is also great on sandwiches in lieu of lettuce and/or pickles. I use it all the time (my brother's Korean ex-MIL makes it for me) for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It also makes some of the best fried rice! Cucumber kim chee is really good and, somehow, milder. Maybe it's the coolness of cucumber chunks that cuts through the hotness of the spices. Won bok kim chee you can usually get in varying degrees of heat, so read the labels and start off with a mild version. It really is delicious stuff. Once you've tried some you'll wonder what you've been missing all your life.

                Oh, and hannaone is absolutely right about the grilled pork belly. It's practically indispensable with Korean style BBQ meat.