Special Dispatch: Kimchi, Seoul, Korea
by Hashley Brown
The heart and soul of Korea lie in the perfect confluence of chilli, garlic and cabbage. The heart and soul of Korea then sits in a pot for yonks until it is the smelliest heart and soul you would ever have the fortune to wake up next to, even after a particularly unfortunate date. And this was how each of my days in my borrowed home of Seoul began - she wasn't pretty but by god did she taste good.
I talk not of my girlfriend, her sister or indeed her mother, with whom I had the pleasure of residing, but of kimchi. It stinks, it's hot, and it's delicious for breakfast.
The pedants amongst you dear readers, will no doubt inform me that actually this humble dish of fermented vegetables need not always use chilli nor even cabbage, indeed that the folk of Hamgyeongdo season theirs with fresh fish and oysters, and that to be frank I should probably get my self off to the Kimchi museum. But, throughout my short stay in Korea it was this fragrant, if potent combination of flavours that, like a good espresso kicked me roughly into each day.
The combinations were varied: kim-bap, a kind of kimchi based sushi roll; kimchi-chigae, a potent kimchi based soup; kimchi-jaen, yup, kimchi based pancakes, all featured. But for my money it was the simple start of a bowl of rice, some roasted seaweed and a plate of kimchi that relieved me of the night's stupor and threw down the gauntlet to any who dared come close to my new found kimchi-based aroma.
The best thing though, as potent as I now was, everyone else smelled bad too.
A link to the Kimchi Museum
Buy kimchi in London at:
Centre Point Food Store
20-21 St Giles High Street WC2
41 Store Street WC1E 7QF
or online at: www.skmart.co.uk