Crazy for kimchi

Kimchi, why has it taken me so long to make your acquaintance?

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I blame my parents and their ketchup-is-an-exotic-condiment attitude for keeping my palette sheltered for so long.

Anyway, I was on my way to the tahini-free hummus during a recent Trader Joe’s run, when I saw this in the refrigerator case:

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Image credit: kimchi by Andrea Nguyen, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

It was cheap, and I have read positive reviews of kimchi, so I thought “What the heck?” and put it in my cart. (I’m happy to report, this was my only impulse purchase this trip; I was a good budget shopper and stuck to my list for the rest of my shopping excursion.)

What exactly is kimchi? Well, according to my internet guru, “kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings.” Here’s what I call it: a bag of tangy, spicy deliciousness!

It closely resembles sauerkraut in taste, but with a spicy kick. Not clear your sinuses spicy, but more of a nice, mellow burn in your mouth. TJs version is made with napa cabbage. A quick Google search found a lot of tasty looking recipes using kimchi as an ingredient, but my bag didn’t make it to the recipe phase—I’m ashamed to admit it, but I ate it straight out of the bag with three separate meals. Actually, I’m not ashamed. It was so good I couldn’t bear any delay in getting it into my belly!

Not only is kimchi super tasty, Health magazine listed it as one of the world’s healthiest foods. The fermentation process creates lactobacilli, the good-for-your-gut bacteria that also lives in yogurt. Kimchi is a bit high in salt (TJs bag claims 18% of your daily value in a 2 tablespoon serving), so you might want to lay off the stuff for a few days before an event where you plan to wear a snug outfit. It is a calorie bargain at just 20 per ¼ cup serving, which is probably the most fermented cabbage a human should eat in one sitting…

Have you tried kimchi? If I am able to keep my fork out of the stuff to try a fancier dining option, any good recipes you have to share?