how kimchi saved my life

how kimchi saved my life

John's Kimchi: The Question of How - Part One

I am not really sure where to begin to speak to how John's Kimchi even got started. I remember spending a good six hours in the kitchen on the day I decided to make my very first batch of kimchi. I did not expect it to take so long, but I attributed it to the learning curve and having to refer back and forth to the recipe and checking over and over again that I got the numbers right -  I admit I have a pretty bad case of obsessive compulsive disorder, and I am a recovering perfectionist. 

I remember following the recipe as close to the T as I possibly could, so I ended up making a batch worth of twelve pounds of kimchi - that is, with all the ingredients and vegetables combined. I was able to stuff and manhandle that first batch into four 64oz jars with little breathing room. I was quite proud of myself. So I decided to take a photo of my accomplishment and posted it on my Facebook account, but I received very little fanfare for it. I was a little bit dejected, but really nothing new at that point in my life. 

Previous to that account, I had mentioned to my Korean nurse girlfriend that I was going to attempt to make some kimchi......

Okay, lets give a little backstory to my Korean nurse girlfriend. She's not really my girlfriend at all, but she's a nurse at the hospital I work at and she already has a boyfriend. I had seen her around the hospital before and she was always so friendly and always waved and said hi to me, and I thought, what an attractive girl. So one day I was walking into work from the parking lot when I noticed a figure in my peripheral, so I turned to my left and I noticed it was her, and I thought to myself, that's that cute nurse, and then went back along my merry way. 

Then out of nowhere, it seemed, I hear footsteps approaching fast from behind, and I hear a female voice say, "that is a small lunch bag you have, look at mine, it is huge. I have to eat every two hours or I turn into a monster." That female was my Korean nurse girlfriend. So we conversed along our way into work and introduced ourselves and then parted ways. Then for some reason, I told myself, maybe she was just flirting with me. So for the next couple of weeks, whenever I saw her in the hallways, I would always try to accompany her to her destination and chitchat. There came a point when I told myself I should muster up the nerves and ask this girl out. I mean, what did I have to lose but my pride and dignity? 

So she's not normally someone I would risk rejection on - I am 5'5" and she is 5'9", and that was way out of my comfort zone, because I do not date women who are taller than me, but then again, since i happen to be the height of a hobbit, my options are very limited. I was really tentative about whether I should ask her out on a date or not, because I told myself there were three possible outcomes: 1. she has a boyfriend 2. she's not interested 3. she has a boyfriend and she's not interested (sick burn). So I told myself that the next time I saw her, I would put myself on a limb to face rejection. After about two weeks, the day came when I noticed her getting in an elevator at work, so I immediately dropped everything and rushed over as the door was closing fast, and I risked an arm and shoved it in so that the elevator door would open :). So I believe there were two other men riding the elevator up to the first floor, and I knew she had to go to the fifth floor, so I had a small window of opportunity. So I took a deep breath and said to her, "Can I ask you a question? Can I take you out to lunch sometime?" So she didn't say anything for like two seconds then proceeds to let me down gently by saying, "I am sorry, I have a boyfriend." I wanted to crawl into a little corner, assume the fetal position and just cry. But she left the elevator and waved bye to me.

Long story short, I saw her again and she was really friendly and it put me at ease because I didn't want to always see her and feel uncomfortable because she rejected me. We eventually started chatting through a messenger program and became friends. It turns out, we are a lot alike, and I am not sure if two like personalities should be dating. But she is a very unique woman, and she and I get along really well as friends, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.

Her name is Melissa J Han, and I spent a lot of time introducing you all to her because she was the person that planted the whole idea of bringing my kimchi to the public. Turns out, she has a lot of very good marketing ideas that I have employed with John's Kimchi up to this point. I take her suggestions and advice very seriously. John's Kimchi was her idea for the name of this business. She tells me that it is a very simple but elegant name and people can readily relate to John. She tells me the John's Kimchi is a representation of my personality, simple and sophisticated. I'll take her word for it. She also came up with the name of what will be my first book, "how kimchi saved my life." I can't thank her enough :)


This is a picture of my Korean nurse girlfriend.

Please tune in for part two of "The Question of How" and how I have come to this juncture, where I am seriously considering leaving my full-time job and pursuing my dreams.

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.