Recently, I was celebrating a co-worker's birthday. Since the birthday boy is Vietnamese, we had spring rolls and salad rolls to go with the cake. Mmmmm. Someone mentioned kimchee, which was met with many blank stares. I thought they were joking, but it turned out that a significant chunk of the dozen or so people in the room had never had kimchee or even heard of it. What the . . . ?
Kimchee is the staple food (along with rice) of Korea. It's cheap, it's nutritious and it can be served as a side dish or cooked into other dishes. Most of the kimchee we see in stores is pickled Napa cabbage, cured with salt, ginger and a significant amount of hot pepper, but it can be made from a variety of vegetables and. A friend of mine who had married a Korean woman and lived in Korea told me about a version called "little boy" because it was made from tiny radishes that looked like a baby's penis. I've not seen any of that for sale, but I've had other versions of kimchee, including one his wife whipped up in a few minutes from lettuce and a LOT of pepper.
Thinking about kimchee reminded me I hadn't had any for awhile and that made me think, hmmmm, what goes with kimchee? And so I'm getting ready to eat Dak Jim (garlic chicken), white rice, Shigumchi Namul (sesame spinach salad) and kimchee. I'm lucky.
That's the kimchee and spinach in the picture. Garlic chicken is a simple stew made with lots of garlic (d'oh), green onions, soy sauce and sesame oil and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.