how kimchi saved my life

John's Kimchi: The Question of Why

Growing up, I had always loved it whenever my parents brought home Asian pickled vegetables in all its variants. I especially loved the pickled carrots and daikon radishes used in Vietnamese subs, but my favorite of all the pickled products was the traditional (Tong Baechu) kimchi.

I fell in love with kimchi at a very early age, and it was always a treat whenever there were some in the fridge. But I remember one experience that really made me question the proposition of purchasing kimchi from the local markets; one day, as I was minding my own business just trying to exist, I opened up the fridge to see a new, plastic jar of kimchi with all its seals on. I immediately opened it up and tried the content, and in turn, was left very, very disappointed. There was no real taste to the kimchi at all, and I did not recall it having the tanginess, spiciness that I was accustomed to. At one point it was even bitter. So I closed the jar and shoved it back in the fridge, swearing it off for good - at least for a few days. Eventually, I kept coming back and eating pieces here and there and it started tasting better as the days went on. I did not know it at the time, but I had been inadvertently introduced to the process of fermentation. To my defense, the kimchi should not have been sold until it was adequately fermented. 

From that bad experience with kimchi up until recently, I always get excited whenever I go to a restaurant and there was kimchi laying around. I would always order some or grab some if they were available, and for the most part, I would always be, again, left disappointed. I had never, up to this point in my life, purchased kimchi for myself. And it doesn't help that walking into a random Asian market and picking up a container of kimchi is like a shot in the dark - you are never sure of the quality you will receive. And, so, I felt like I needed to remedy that situation. 

A bit of background information on me: I really love to cook and entertain, and I especially enjoy the cooking and preparation process. I would recall spending 2-3 hours in the kitchen at a time, look up at the clock, and wondered where all the time had gone, but it was so much fun! 

The trick to cooking is, I believe, to seek out a recipe for a food you really enjoy and follow it according to the instructions. Once you have tasted the final product and you have approved, you may then proceed on to the next occasion adjusting the recipe more to your taste - how food tastes to each individual is subjective, and here, you have the liberty of catering it to your very own tastes. 

So one day, as I was lounging around at home, I came up with the idea of making some kimchi of my own; something I could make with consistent taste that would never leave me wondering. I googled kimchi recipes until I settled on one that I felt would taste good to me. I proceeded to make my first batch and everything went well. I was unsure of how long I needed to ferment the kimchi for, so I would keep tasting it every day until I felt the taste was right. I concluded on letting the kimchi ferment in a cool area outside of the fridge for at least two weeks before it reaches close to its peak in taste. I have since adjusted the recipe to accommodate my taste and it has not disappointed me yet. 

That is the reason "why" behind John's Kimchi.