Korean Food and the Kimchi Chronicles

Our family loves the spicy and rich flavors of Korean food.  When the kids come home during their school break, their restaurant of choice is the local Korean BBQ.  Apparently, in their neighborhoods, there are plenty of Japanese and Chinese eateries but not many Korean.  So, off we go and they consume an embarrassing amount of food, but are extremely happy after a good meal.

Korean food is very popular in Japan and Hawaii and we grew up enjoying kimchi, super spicy fermented cabbage and bulgogi, grilled marinated beef.  But, as with all foods, they tend to transform and change to suit the local taste.  For example, the kimchi in Hawaii isn’t has spicy as the real Korean versions.  They say it developed to suit the tastes of the immigrant Japanese workers, so it’s a cross between Japanese pickles and Korean kimchi.   I think that weather has an influence on flavors as well.  For Hawaii’s tropical weather the milder kimchi works well.  However, I just like to know what is authentic.  As I was looking for authentic Korean food on the internet, I came across this fabulous website that you may wish to check out:  Trifood.com      Their tag line is Celebrating Korean Food.

I don’t know about how one feels about challenging a new recipe when the ingredients and equipment are different from what you’re accustomed to.  For myself, although I understand the recipe, I find that it’s hard to envision the procedure and always wonder if I’m doing the right thing.  Of course it’s always great to have friends who are willing to teach you, and one of my childhood best friends is Korean.  However, there’s a small problem… she lives on the other side of the earth from where I am….  But, about a month ago, my good neighbor, Joy, introduced me to a fabulous show on T.V. called the Kimchi Chronicles that was aired on PBS last year.  It introduces us to Korean culture through food!   Unfortunately, it isn’t on air anymore, but they do sell the DVD and cookbook on their website www.kimchichronicles.tv

 

Chef, Marja Vongerichten, the hostess of the show is warm and so genuine.  She also teaches us Korean recipes for the American Kitchen.  Although there are no video recipes, just watching these videos on Korea gives you a glimpse into their culture and how they enjoy food.

 

I tried Marja’s LA Galbi (Thinly Sliced Barbecued Short Ribs) recipe.  Click on the recipe and it will take you to her recipe and website.

Her suggestion of putting the major ingredients in a blender is such a good idea – no more grating or chopping!  As our family prefers our food a little less sweet, I eliminated the cola and instead added a quarter cup mirin, Japanese sweet cooking wine, but otherwise, followed the recipe.  Thank you Marja for opening the path to enjoy more Korean food at home!  It was delicious!

 

Make your own kim chee with this kim chee base from Momoya

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5 Comments

  1. Even the kimchi in Korea tastes different at different places. Some is much closer to being “pickled.” It has a more more sour taste. Some, of course, is super spicy. I actually prefer to use the spicy kimchi as a flavoring agent. For example, kimchi sam gyup sal is super delicious. You can marinate the pork in the kimchi or you can just throw it on the grill and cook it together. If you’re going to marinate it, go with the really thin cuts of meat–it absorbs the flavors much more. The traditional thick cuts are best with a big lump of cooked kimchi on top!!!

    Cheers!

    Ryan

  2. Hi Ryan.
    It’s interesting how flavors vary depending upon each region. Marinating port with kimchi sounds very good. I’m going to try that! Have a great day, and thanks!

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