I am obsessed with kimchi. I think about the earthy, fermented, spicy pickle all the time. I know that some people find kimchi’s deep funkiness repellent, but I love it.
Kimchi is one of the most common Korean condiments and is made with vegetables, chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger and salt. It is lightly fermented, sort of like sauerkraut, and then eaten as a side dish or used as an ingredient in Korean cooking. The kimchi most of us are familiar with is made with Napa cabbage.
Although kimchi is easy to make at home, I usually buy it already made. A friend recommended I go check out Grace Market, a tiny, immaculate Korean grocery on South Oliver. Grace Market had no fewer than five varieties of delicious-looking, house-made kimchi, so I bought them all. I also picked up a roll of kim bap, a sushi-like rice roll filled with cooked vegetables. The delicious kim bap didn’t make it home. I ate it in the car.
Grace Market’s kimchis are wonderful and remarkably different. The Napa cabbage traditional is perfectly spicy and salty and has the strongest flavor of the five. The garlic stem kimchi is crunchy and pungent, as is the cucumber. The absolute standout was the one made with shreds of daikon radish: spicy, tangy, slightly sweet, and packed full of sesame seeds and chili. It was so good that I ate nearly a pound of it last night.
This commentary originally ran February 23, 2012