Bulgogi is a Korean marinated and grilled steak, which historically was a dish for wealthy people during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea (1392-1897). Seems pretty basic, does it not? Kimchi however is a Korean institution. It’s a pickle of several vegetables, most notably napa cabbage and red chillies. It can include spring onions, garlic, radishes and cucumber (hundreds of variations exist!). Traditionally kimchi is fermented for days in large jars stored underground. Early kimchi was just cabbage fermented in beef broth, as chillies were not found in Korea until the Japanese brought them over during the Japanese invasions (1592-1598). Kimchi is such a staple to the Korean people that during the Vietnam War, the South Korean troops were reported to be desperate for it and the South Korean government asked the USA to ensure that kimchi was supplied. In a quote from the South Korean President at the time, Park Chung-hee, kimchi was of “vital importance to the morale of Korean troops.
Kimchi has to be one of the most pungent foods I’ve ever eaten. At least, that’s what happened when I ate the kimchi I made. Although it was nice in small doses with the bulgogi, it was too much for one sitting. Maybe I put too much rice vinegar in. Maybe I left it in the fridge too long. Maybe I should have put it in a jar instead of a bowl for tighter packing. Who knows? If you’re up for making a pickle that gives you big punches of flavour, then please give this a go. The bulgogi I made was just steaks marinated in soy sauce and fried before serving, but the kimchi recipe is a little more involved:
I realised with hindsight it was quite a lot of food to handle…
The original recipe I looked at for kimchi can be found on the David Lebovitz website.
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