On Tuesday I turned Chicken Soup & Homicide in to my publisher. All summer there was a lot going on with life in general, beyond my writing life, so getting the book whipped into shape over the last month and a half was intense. I’ve written before about how I end up with food obsessions whenever I work on big writing projects. Beyond the always present coffee, the editing phase of this book brought on a craving for kimchi. Yay for a healthy obsession, for once!
Kimchi is spicy fermented vegetables that is also the national dish of Korea. Traditionally it’s made with cabbage, but it can be made with all kinds of vegetables. It’s one of those dishes that has seemingly endless varieties and every cook that makes it has their own version. I would love to try making it, but the last few months I haven’t had the time to experiment in the kitchen. If you want to try it here are a bunch of recipes from the Beyond Kimchi blog.
For the most part, I buy the mild version of the commercially made brand of kimchi at my local grocery store. A rather standard napa cabbage variety. It is garlicky, mildly sour, slightly salty and pleasantly spicy. I like the taste of the fermented cabbage, so I’m not particularly interested in the sinus clearing spicy version. A few weeks ago I found the cucumber kimchi pictured above at a farmer’s market. What a difference! Even though it is red with chili pepper flakes, it isn’t extremely spicy. You can definitely taste the ginger in this variety and the cucumber gives it a rather grassy “green” flavor. I love it.
So kimchi has been the flavor-packed ingredient that I’ve been adding to my quick lunches while I’ve been writing. One ingredient = a cornucopia of flavor. It’s great with ramen noodles or rice. I also like to accompany it with eggs, either poached in ramen broth or fried and slid on top of rice. My favorite dish so far has been rice topped with low-sodium soy sauce, a fried egg and kimchi. I actually do a one-pan version of this in my little 4-cup rice cooker, by cracking an egg on top of the almost cooked rice then letting it cook from the residual heat. Add soy sauce and the kimchi. Stir to break up the egg into bite-sized pieces and enjoy!
Have you tried kimchi? If you have, do you have a favorite variety?