Saturday, June 07, 2014

Watch This Space

Every once in a while you get the itch to try something new and different to wake up your taste buds. Lately I've decided to not do things anymore that I don't like doing, and the corollary to that is to be open to new things because, well, life is kind of short and can be shorter than you think as I found out recently.

I've been thinking about getting some kimchi for a while now but my local super stopped carrying the stuff. So I shelved the idea until yesterday.

What it is is pickled napa cabbage that is fermented by the lactobacillus method-washed, salted, and packed in a jar with garlic, ginger, daikon radish, green onions, and chile flakes-lots of chile flakes. When it's had a couple of days to percolate it's got to be refrigerated. You can also use this method to create things like kraut and kosher style dill pickles-which, since I bought a dozen 1 quart Ball jars-ought to keep me busy down at the farmers' market next weekend looking for things like pickling cukes and napa cabbage.

Of course, say the word "chile" and right away you have my attention. I'd been looking for a good excuse to visit Des Moines' Saigon Market, where the good folks who own the joint set up shop in a dead Blockbuster video outlet. I bought a pretty good sized jar of the stuff for five bucks, and discovered a few things.

Traditionally kimchi is made at home, and no self respecting Korean grandmother would be caught dead buying store bought commercial grade kimchi-although for long nosed foreign devils like myself, it serves as a pretty good introduction. There also may be a few people who are nipping in and out of the Saigon Market-or other fine oriental groceries-and hoping the neighbors don't catch them buying the store bought merch.

Going to the other side of town is always a good strategy if you're involved in some potentially dodgy business.

I sampled it when I got home and I liked it enough to start gathering the materials I can't get locally to make my own-it is rather easy and there are plenty of recipes on la internet.. I think rolling my own will yield a crisper, fresher version of the commercial stuff.

I think the Old Man would have liked this stuff. It's spicy and piquant but not overpowering, and should be a good adjunct to a lot of otherwise ordinary grub. As for the homemade stuff , stay tuned.


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