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Step-by-step guide to… trying kimchi?

April 12, 2010

I just had kimchi for the first time! What a dork, right? You must wonder how someone so into Korean culture could be such a Korean food noob. I’m sure some of my readers know kimchi so well they can’t even think of life without it. For me, however… I guess I’m unbearably American. Furthermore, I live in a part of Florida where Asian cuisine is limited to fast-food Chinese (or extremely pricey Japanese trend-fests).


How I wish my kimchi had looked lol.

But kimchi, right? How could I not have tried it until now? I’ve actually been keeping my eyes peeled for any possible way to try it, and today my eyes bugged out of my head (lol not really, but maybe) when I saw it at the grocery store. To my disappointment, it looked nothing like what they show in dramas. Also to my disappointment, it was so. freaking. expensive. Six dollars? Really?


Don’t let the perspective deceive you; my peanut butter jar is bigger than this.

BUT IT WAS KIMCHI!

So tonight I snuck out into the kitchen (my roommate’s mom is staying over and I didn’t want to share this ~experience~ with anyone… but you, of course) and stared at the jar of it for about five minutes. Not really, but I studied it and assured myself if it was gross, it wasn’t the end of the world because nothing can really compare to the real thing (and I do not consider store-bought, jarred kimchi in Florida to be very authentic).

I cautiously opened the jar after I read the ~freaky~ warning that natural gasses may have built up inside and the top could shoot off (what???). I smelled it.

AND IT SMELLED NOTHING LIKE I EXPECTED!

More vinegary than I was anticipating? Or something. And then I got some on my fork…


It doesn’t look like this in dramas…

And all I can say is that it reminded me of pickles. What??? But different! It’s tangy and pungent and somewhat slimy. I thought it would be spicier and have a bit of a crunch. I suppose I say it reminds me of pickles because it is kind of pickled… it also has an “olivey” feeling because they are cured in a similar way. In my limited-scope of things I’ve tasted, kimchi just doesn’t compare well to anything so “pickles” is all I can come up with (probably due to the sour tanginess).

I need to try it when I have a good appetite because the texture was a bit off-putting. I could tell that I could get used to it. I am the type who likes everything (except mayonnaise~), so I’m not worried about my ability to develop a taste for it. ALSO, I need to try it at a restaurant or something (home-made would be perfect!) because that’s where it’s really at 😉

I’m happy I tried it. Woot! I can now have some idea what kimchi tastes like every time it’s mentioned/shown/etc. FINALLY!

When was the first time you tried kimchi? Do you like it? Have you eaten it forever? What do you think it tastes like?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric permalink
    April 12, 2010 12:52 am

    Cool. :]

    But don’t be too disappointed. There are several different types of kimchi and judging by the picture of the one you bought, you got one that’s more liquid(?)-based. It’s meant to be a bit sweeter, vinegary, and less spicy. Also, the juice(?) is meant to be consumed along with the kimchi (versus the kimchi pictured above, which is the typical type thought of when kimchi is mentioned).

  2. April 12, 2010 1:30 am

    Thanks 🙂 I still don’t REALLY consider myself to have tried kimchi. This was just to satisfy a part of my curiosity. I wish a Korean place would open up around here. Heck, I live in a different town for school and yet neither has anything. Sigh!

  3. April 12, 2010 1:35 am

    I LOVE kimchi! Really surprised you haven’t tried it before ;o

    But yeah… too bad your first experience of kimchi wasn’t the greatest. That kimchi you bought doesn’t look very authentic. From my experience, there should be far more chili, and therefore much more red, and should not feel “slimy” at all.

    Perhaps if you ever happen to find an asian supermarket (i’m sure there is one hidden away somewhere nearby, since we Chinese have pretty much penetrated every city in the world ^^), you might be able to find packets such as this: http://mykoreankitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/kimchi.jpg

    This is great stuff, and are a very good representation of what “home-made kimchi” tastes like. BTW, I think there are up to 100 different types of kimchi (based on ingredients and type of veg), so if you don’t like the common nappa cabbage kimchi, there’s bound to be others out there. I myself quite like the “stuff cucumber kimchi”

  4. April 12, 2010 7:05 pm

    The first time I tried kimchi, my dad made it himself–it’s pretty easy. The vinegar smell is actually more of apple vinegar. And I loved it.

    At first, I didn’t think it was gross or anything, but I realized kimchi is a LOT like this vinegar cabbage in Vietnamese cuisine, so the texture of it wasn’t new to me. Vietnamese “pickled cabbage” (which is really good too!) is a little salty and it usually made fresher compared to kimchi which I find is spicier and sweeter. I eat it with most Vietnamese cuisine, and I prefer to eat it with rice or sushi. But in the end, I think you would be a lot happier with kimchi if you buy it from an Asian brand. ;]

  5. nene permalink
    April 19, 2010 8:46 pm

    Omg!!! You’re hilarious! I know what you mean I live in miami and asian food is scare lol. I actually tried kimchi for the very first time at my korean friend place and it wasn’t that bad but it was spicy for me because I’m not a huge fan of spicy food. It actually smelled better than the one in maryland. Anyways you’re writing had me laughing a lot.

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