Kimchi: The New Yogurt

Because of my intense predilection for spicy, garlicky, sour foods and the special place I have in my heart for vegetables, it’s easy for me to love kimchi. Spicy pickled veggies? Yes, please. And the more I learn about the health benefits of this tangy mess, the more I eat it.
I’ve never been a fan of yogurt: cold, slimy foods aren’t my thing. But the fermented vegetables in kimchi are another great source of probiotics that aid in digestion (and may prevent yeast infections). It’s also a good source of vitamins. And the right kimchi is an all-natural mound of rotting vegetables that’s vegan and gluten-free.
And in case that hasn’t sold you, the tasty kimchi I’m snacking on right now has a mere 15 calories per serving. Now that the weather’s warmer and the running and swimsuit seasons are upon us, kimchi is the ideal snack.
If you haven’t had it before, go get you some! The 16-ounce jar of Sunja’s my spoon is currently occupying was about $6 at the local co-op. (In the future, I’ll go for the local Virginia brand that I overlooked last time.) And if you like it, I hear it’s no trouble to make.
If you aren’t ready to dive in utensil-first, here are the recipes that put kimchi back in my fridge in the first place.
Closet Cooking’s Kimchi Quesadillas
These two recipes came from one of my favorite cooking sites, Closet Cooking. Kevin Lynch from Closet Cooking is an adorable Canadian who has made his tiny kitchen into a cooking empire. Seriously, dude has like 17,000 fans on the Facebook, which is approximately more people than live in Canada.

You might not believe it, but kimchi and cheese are amazing together. I first tried kimchi pizza as a teacher in Taiwan, but even in the US, Korean-Mexican fusion food is becoming more and more popular. I got these at the aptly-named Seoul Food truck in Arlington a few weeks ago:

Kimchi quesadillas from Seoul Food

Fast forward a few weeks to Weird Movie Night and my friends are requesting the kimchi pizza I ‘ve been bragging about. Friends want me to cook? Love it. Boom. Done. Would have been nicer of me not to eat four of the eight slices I made, but they all brought their own takeout dinners. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Closet Cooking’s Kimchi, Bacon and Shiitake Mushroom Pizza

A few of my friends admitted to me that they had never eaten kimchi before or had been afraid to cook with it. But once you spread it on some carbs and top it with cheese, it’s no scarier than cabbage. Both Closet Cooking and Pig Pig’s Corner have plenty of kimchi recipes to keep you busy.
Just this weekend, I went to Mr. Sato Express for tempura, which they served with a giant side of white rice. The rice just sat there, all lumpy and indignant in the bowl. I took it home with me because I felt sorry for it. And then last night, in my Facebook feed, I got a lovely post from Pig Pig’s Corner (which you should check out because he has an awesome blog, amazing recipes, and beautiful photography): 
Pig Pig’s Corner’s Kimchi Fried Rice and Gammon
And because I had Korean spicy sauce (gochujang) and turkey bacon leftover from the pizza and one sad, lonely bowl of white rice, I had every ingredient I needed already in the fridge.
The universe wanted me to have kimchi fried rice for lunch on Thursday. I obliged. Thank you, universe. You chose wisely.
Two final notes: 

  1. I was going to skip the gochujang and just the Sriracha I have in the fridge, but I ended up grabbing it just because I found it without even trying. BUY IT. I have been putting it on almost everything. It’s like spicy, delicious Korean ketchup.
  2. I ate half a jar of kimchi while writing this post (and then a truffle). I maybe should not have done that. 
What’s your latest food crush? How are you preparing it? Got any unusual recipes to share or a favorite food blog you want to tell the world about? Let us know in the comments!

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