The fermentation quest: gimme Kimmy

I love Korean cuisine. I actually discovered this in Berlin, where Korean restaurants are plentiful. And I hope I get to visit the country some time, so that I can taste the most authentic versions of the barbecues, bibimbap, and of course, kimchi.

So it was clear from the beginning that after my sauerkraut endeavour, I would try to imitate the spicy fermented Chinese cabbage kimchi, as I know it from the restaurants. Added benefit: it allegedly is the healthiest food in the world. So there you go: a clear win-win.

For St. Nicholas (the Dutch “Christmas”, with the only ressemblance being an old guy in a red outfit and the fact we get presents) my mum was so kind to give me a book about fermentation (this one: literally the title means “about rot” 🙂 ). The book is a great manual on how to ferment, what equipment to use, and what bacteria to expect with which type of fermentation (good and evil).

The even better part is that it contains recipes for each fermentation type as well, so I quickly moved on to the kimchi recipe on page 67. It combines the Chinese cabbage with radish, spring onions, carrots, ginger, and garlic. To that comes fish sauce, sugar, and Korean paprika powder (which I couldn´t find, so I used a mix of normal paprika powder and my crazy spicy chili powder). And then of course, salt.

The veggies were easy to squeeze and it didn´t take long before they had produced enough water and reduced to half the volume.


Kimmy, as I dubbed her, proved to have a lot more temperament than Frank. She bubbled and fizzed passionately, and was very, very stinky (big mistake to open her in the kitchen; the balcony is a much better option). In the end, we had to take her along on our Christmas holiday, because I feared she couldn´t be left alone without farting at regular intervals and the gas would break the glass…

Eventually Kimmy calmed down and became one very tasty kimchi. Spicy, but not too spicy, the right level of acidity, an interesting mix of flavours coming from the different ingredients, and quite close to what I would expect a kimchi to taste like. I was pretty happy with this easy-to-make, difficult-to-manage, tasty-to-eat creature!

Then it was time to “use” her the right way. The choice was easy; I would cook my favourite dish, bibimbap. Without the hot dolsot stone pot, but with the help of my friend (recommended, as there are lots of things to cut and cook at the same time!). The result was highly gratifying and Kimmy matched perfectly with the ginger-, soy- and sesame-seasoned veggies. I think I have a new favourite 🙂



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