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Kimchi and Indian food...


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I remember Mongo mention in an earlier thread that Khim chi paired very well witrh Indian food. I meant to ask him to elaborat then, but did not get around to it.

THe question came to mind again recently when I at at "All Stir Fry" recently. IMO the Khim Chi there was very good. There were two types bothe with large pieces of cabbage and a subtle sweetness. One was SPICY (red chilli flakes and chilli powder were in it I think) and the other was sweet sour and worked to soothe the flames of the first. It had little bits of carrot in it and corriander as well but besides that it also had an underlying flavour which I think was imparted by lemongrass since thought I saw bits of it in there. I am not sure however.

What I am sure of is that I am hooked! I have been trying to duplicate the flavour since then using white and red cabbage but I want to know more. What is the authentic version, is there only one or does it vary? Is ther food lore attached to it?

Basically if Mongo or anybody else is so inclined a detailed post on the subject of Khimchi and recipes (please) are more than welcome....

Rushina

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We occasionally make sort-of-fusion instant baida rotis using kimchi.

So, ready-made 'puff parathas', made in Singapore and easily available at Indian stores around here. These take two minutes to heat up on a tava, then an egg (beaten with salt and pepper and finely diced scallion) sis poured on and the heated paratha placed on it so that the egg sticks properly in the manner of a standard baida roti.

Then, a lot of fresh leafy lettuce and some good spicy kimchi gets wrapped up in the roti.

The whole process shouldn't take more than 5-6 minutes, and the results are highly satisfactory.

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What I am sure of is that I am hooked! I have been trying to duplicate the flavour since then using white and red cabbage but I want to know more. What is the authentic version, is there only one or does it vary?

Rushina -

Kimchi is an accompaniment to pretty much all Korean dishes. I spent a summer in Seoul and Pusan and during that time I did not eat even one meal without kimchi. Breakfast, lunch, dinner - you can even order kimchi pizza! :shock:

Kimchi could be any of several pickled vegetables (i've even heard of some fruit), but the standard kimchi (dong bae chu) is pickled Chinese cabbage, which is probably the spicy one you referred to. It is fairly easy to make, but every family seems to have their own special recipe. Basically, the cabbage is pickled and combined with red chili and any number of other ingredients such as garlic, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and more. Back in the day, large earthenware jars were used to make kimchi and they were buried about a foot below ground. I made kimchi once in undergrad, and it came out good, but it wasn't worth the effort especially considering I went to school just next to Koreatown and had access to excellent store bought products.

Besides the standard Chinese cabbage, kimchi is made from radishes, cucumber, and turnips. These other types of kimchi are usually served in small dishes on the table for the meal collectively referred to as panchan. Sounds like the sweet one you had is radish. My favorite is a spicy radish one called kkakdoogi.

Is ther food lore attached to it?

They say kimchi leads to longer life and reduces cholestoral among other health benefits. I've heard some people drink kimchi juice to clear sinuses and even as a health tonic. I read one article that claimed kimchi was the reason Korea wasn't affected to badly by SARS. I haven't seen any empirical evidence to support any of those claims but who knows.

-Richie

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  • 2 weeks later...

rushina,

richie has explained kimchi quite succinctly. as far as i can tell anyway--i'm not an expert on korean food by any means, i'm just married to a korean-american woman with high-standards (well, in the food department anyway).

what i am an expert on is the eating of kimchi with bengali food. vikram has gone on record here to say that he doesn't think kimchi goes with any indian food. i'm tempted to guess that the quality of kimchi available in korean restaurants in india is not that high. more likely the kimchi vikram has come across was very freshly made--at which point it can be "squeaky" and sharp and clash with the flavors of much indian food. however, in our house we favor kimchi that has fermented for quite some time and has a softer texture and less aggressive flavor. i like to substitute it for achar and eat it with dal and rice (especially bengali style mushoor dal). it also goes well with a spicy meat curry

i should say, however, that this has not been a conscious culinary choice. as any hardcore korean will tell you kimchi is eaten with everything. to illustrate: my wife's family has a traditional american turkey dinner on thanksgiving--they get the turkey, the cranberry sauce, the mashed potatoes, the works--and then they break out the kimchi. they don't find any contradiction there, nor do they think they're bravely hybridizing food traditions. a meal simply isn't a meal without kimchi.

my wife is not quite as extreme in her attachment to it. she doesn't bring out the kimchi when i make pasta, for example--but i have little doubt that she would unconsciously make a move towards it if there was some on the table. when we went to india this winter we had to carry kimchi with us so that she wouldn't go insane. talk about lethal baggage. people complain here about the smell of hing/asafoetida; well, nothing can clear a room of the meek and mild like opening a jar of well-fermented kimchi (well kathal and shutki might do the trick as well). we had to wrap ours in layers and layers of plastic bags to take it on the plane and if we'd been asked to open it in security i might have been in guantanamo bay right now with little thought for egullet.

mongo

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I think Mongo is right that the type of kimchi I ate was the reason for my sweeping statement. As he says, it was very fresh and squeaky and the fact that I was trying to eat it with sambhar and rice probably didn't help. (I think coconut and tamarind, both South Indian staples, can both be problematic in food combinations. They don't make it impossible, but you have to be careful).

I'm back in Madras now and overdosing on the excellent Korean food you get here, courtesy Hyundai's mega factory here. (Also, in passing, I'd like to note that of all Indian cities, Madras/Chennai now seems the most in tune with the Asia-Pacific region. I think this is partly geography, partly the Tamil diaspora, but I keep coming across A-P links here like Australian companies, the Korean places I mentioned, another really good Japanese place, some places serving Malaysian food, Thai in abundance, and even that Singapore institution, Komala Vilas now has a branch here).

Back to the Korean food. If anyone wants to try it out, there are two places - a decent, non-fancy place called KyungBokChong in Nandanam, and a slightly better place, in terms of both food and ambience, in Alwarpet called InSeoul (its the old Arirang). Great bulgogi, bibimbap, kimchi of course, but the thing I'm currently tripping on is the slightly fermented tasting red chilli paste called, I think, kochija. I've been told there's a place you can buy it here, and if I get my hands on it Rushina, you will definitely get your share!

Vikram

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but the thing I'm currently tripping on is the slightly fermented tasting red chilli paste called, I think, kochija. I've been told there's a place you can buy it here, and if I get my hands on it Rushina, you will definitely get your share!

i believe a closer transliteration would be kochu-jang or gochu-jang. it is a fermented red bean paste with chillies. it was another of the things we had to take with us to india as well--but this only because my wife wanted to cook a meal for my family and this seemed like an ingredient we probably couldn't find in delhi (i've since been told that it is available in i.n.a market but have not verified this). it is a very versatile ingredient--used as an ingredient in "sauces", marinades, as a dipping sauce, and just last evening i caught my wife eating a bowl of steamed rice with kochu-jang (from the guilty look on her face i gathered this is not something adults do). it would probably be great with some types of kababs as well, or as an ingredient in a dry chicken curry. my wife makes a chicken "stew" with onions and potatoes, soy sauce, sesame oil and liberal doses of kochu-jang that looks like it could be indian, and tastes only a little less so.

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Hmm, possible pairings:

Rich butter chicken with crunchy, light cucumber kimchi? I would go for this.

a nice bossam kimchi with its myriad treasures plucked and eaten with some fluffy, hot idlis?

pakoras and mak kimchi?

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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These sound like great combinations.

One Korean-Indian fusion (if I may use the word) thing I have tried multiple times is bindaetteok-pakora. It seems like a natural merging. This basically means a spinach pakora with the usual spices, but made with ground soaked nokdu (moong dal) instead of besan. That works pretty well. . . If you want to make it thicker, add mung flour or besan, but don't add too much or it will be stodgy.

If that sounds basically Indian and not Korean enough, chopped up kim chee can be added instead of spinach, but I haven't tried this. Not sure if there will be any clash with the spices and they will have to be adjusted. . .

BTW, we always had kimchi with our turkey at Thanksgiving growing up as well. Also, "mook" salad was seen as a good accompaniment for turkey for some reason.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Thanks everyone, for all of the detailed replies.

I still have a few questions, Is Khimchi store bought or homemade?

If made at home, is it possible to make it in the humid environs of Bombay?

Mongo, do you make yours at home, would you be willing to share a recipe?

The one I tried was definitely fresh, however it did not have the squeak to it.

Vikram looking forward to that red chilli paste, and anything else you can find. I am sure we can work out something to trade. My trip to Dehra DUn is finally happening and while researching for my book I have found out that Walnut and Apricot oil are produced in Garhwal and I intend to bring some back ( I am told that walnut oil has an amazing flavour.) Would u like some? Maybe when I am back we can have a bombay egullet meet... and compare notes...

Rushina

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Is Khimchi store bought or homemade?

Yes. :biggrin:

That's the short answer. The longer answer is that I understand that few Koreans home-make it anymore, especially in cities, because it's so widely available in stores.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I still have a few questions, Is Khimchi store bought or homemade?

If made at home, is it possible to make it in the humid environs of Bombay?

Mongo, do you make yours at home, would you be willing to share a recipe?

The one I tried was definitely fresh, however it did not have the squeak to it.

Both storebought and homemade. Here where I live, you can even go to a boba cafe and get kimchi jars to go. I've never seen this before. Recently, I was waiting for my drink, when a family came in and after a chat with the owner, bought a big glass jar of kimchi and went on their way. I guess he's good. But there are also kimchi shops, and Pulmuone makes a decent line of packaged kimchis that I admit to buying.

Homemade is good but kimchi takes some time and effort to make.

Personally, I think you can make kimchi in Bombay, so long as you have a fridge. You leave it out to ferment a bit, and then stick it in the fridge so it won't go bad so fast, so you don't waste your efforts.

I am not mongo, but after some more testing, and hopefully a new camera, I will be posting a dummy proof basic kimchi recipe, sometime in the hopefully nearish future, after finals that is. i am no monica bhide, but i hope you like it.

I usually get the "squeaky" (hehe good characterization in one word) kimchi at Korean-Chinese restaurants, where I live (L.A. area). Most of the owners that I've seen(not all) are Chinese people that lived in Korea and are fluent in Korean. Often crap kimchi, but their black bean noodles/spicy seafood noodle soups etc. tend to be superior to the Korean-Chinese restaurants where Koreans are the owners. I've been eating a lot of Korean-Chinese lately, so this is fresh in my mind.

--I know there's got to be exceptions to this, but I can't think of any right now.

Oh man, if only I was in Bombay with you guys. I would bring so much kochujang (red chili paste) you would never want to see it or me again.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Tryska, "mook" is a kind of gelatin made from either mung bean or acorn starch. You make a salad out of it by slicing it in strips and covering it with spicy soy sauce, shredded nori, carrots, and the like. You often get it as a side dish in Korean restaurants.

Rushina, there are plenty of Kim Chee recipes available on the web. My late father had a very simple recipe that he used to make all the time - it had a very "clean" taste because there were no salted seafood products in the recipe, as there are in the vast majority of "authentic" recipes. Thus it would be acceptable for vegetarians than most Korean kimchees (though perhaps not many Brahmins, since it does contain garlic). You can just visit this page to find my father's recipe, in his own words.

We make Kim Chee all the time here in the Manoa district of Honolulu, which must be one of the most humid places on the face of the Earth, probably even more so than Bombay, so I don't think heat and humidity should be a problem.

Joan, looking forward to seeing photos of your wonderful kim chee!

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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I still have a few questions, Is Khimchi store bought or homemade?

Mongo, do you make yours at home, would you be willing to share a recipe?

rushina,

kimchi can be either store-bought or home-made. we go either way depending on availability of the brand we like and my wife's patience for doing it herself. it is arduous, smelly work to prep and make it and if commercial versions just a rung below home-made quality are available it doesn't always make sense to chop 20 heads of cabbage at home. then again we're lazy people.

one of the best things to do with kimchi, by the way, at least in my opinion, is to make kimchi-chigae--a spicy soup with kimchi as the star, alongside meat or fish or something else. kimchi fried rice is also excellent, as are kimchi pancakes--my wife makes all of these with cabbage kimchi, i don't know if that is the norm or whether they can be made with radish etc. kimchi as well. i would give you these recipes if i could get my wife to write them down for me, but she has no interest in my egulleting activities, certainly not enough to make her sit down and think about and write down recipes she cooks entirely by feel. jschyun and skchai are going to have to be your sources here. but the next time we make kimchi at home i'll take notes for you--my wife and m-i-l just made a huge batch when we were in l.a so i doubt she'll want to tackle it again anytime soon.

we're talking about coming to bombay on our next trip--some very close friends of mine live there now. don't know when it'll be but you can be sure we'll have kimchi and kochujang with us. we can plan an egullet dinner--while my wife is uninterested in talking about food online she is very easily talked into cooking for people.

how's that book going?

mongo

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Hmmm...

All right since I have not found ready khimchi anyplace, I am guessing I will have to just make my own.

jschyun, since we are both planning on oing it at home, how bout if we do it simultaneously? I am going to Dehra Dun on the 19th but will be back in the first week of July, so how bout we do it then?

We could use skchais dads recipe (thanks skchai and mook sounds really interesting too...) as a starting point and see where we end up...

we could compare notes along the way...

Mongo, (and Monica - I got ur PM thanks) the book goes well, thanks, I am looking forward to the coming trip to Dehra Dun, as I intend to go deeper into some of the regional cooking in Garhwal.

As for you trip to Bombay, whenever it happens you're on! (Needless to say I am curious to meet you and your wife...). Maybe we can do a pahari dinner, accompanied by Khimchi and whatever else catches our fancy.... (edited to add that i am sure vikram will have something to say here....)

Rushina

Edited by Rushina (log)
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