Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

A Kimchi Sunday

October 27, 2008

Turnip and turnip leaf kimchi, Debra Solomon,
Turnip and turnip leaf kimchi in a pool of sauce shaped like the silhouette of a kimchi-lover

Community/Communauté Choucroute is one of my proposals at the City Eco Lab in Saint-Étienne for the Design Biennial this November. Designing resilience into urban food systems is essential, and one way to achieve this is to store food en plein public. There’s precedence in the salted and/or pickled cabbage installations centered in traditional villages and along the roadside in parts of East Asia.

Kimchi array, Debra Solomon,
Kimchi array from l to r: daikon cubes, turnip greens, carrots and chard stems, chinese/napa cabbage, kimchi juice for extra rice lubrication

In preparation for the installation/demonstration of Communauté Choucroute, I’ve been experimenting with different fermented vegetable recipes. And when my landscape-architect friend Jacques decided that our shared passion for Korean pickled cabbage/kimchi as a way of spending a Sunday for us to get better acquainted, it was nothing short of prescient. Jacques prepared an exquisite workshop for us that included an instructional video from our online mentor Maangchi and all manner of traditional kimchi vegetables.

Napa cabbage kimchi, Debra Solomon,
Classic chinese/napa cabbage kimchi

Although I’ve been making kimchi for decades, in my laziness I had resorted to using a pre-fab Korean kimchi paste from the Chinese supermarket. The flavours were good on their own, but not like the kimchi from a great Korean restaurant. Jacques introduced me to the ease of preparing the kimchi paste myself and an easier, faster recipe. Pardon my sounding like an advert when I gush that the results were astounding - perfect kimchi, 100% authentic flavour, in a fraction of the time. It’s like when you figure out how to roll your own pasta in 20 minutes, there’s no going back to storebought. Within a day our kimchi was bubbling away with a flavour so rounded with umami that I feel inspired to open up a kimchi boutique. The new secret ingredient? Chopped up raw oysters and all the sweet oyster juices. I am certain that it’s this enzyme-rich liquor that together with the lacto-bacilli-beasties transforms mere rotting vegetable matter into the champagne of cuisine vegetal.

Turnip kimchi, Debra Solomon,
Kimchi turnips like jewels on a plate.

debra at 11:49 | | post to


  1. oh, your website looks wonderful!
    Yes, the turnip kimch on the plate looks like jewels! My mouth is watering.

    Comment by Maangchi — October 27, 2008 @ 15:52

  2. Now i’m curious how the holier than thou big K in the sky tastes like. Oyester the magic ingrediants. Can you replace fresh oysters with dried?

    Comment by james — October 27, 2008 @ 18:15

  3. Maangchi, the feeling is mutual, I’m loving your site too. Thanks for the expertise!

    Comment by debra — October 28, 2008 @ 16:43

  4. James, do you mean - you wonder what Gawd’s kimchi would taste like if Gawd made kimchi? Probably more or less like mine. ; P

    I just got done making 12 different kinds including apple and shiso. It might be time for a kimchi happy hour with… vodka martinis kimchi pancakes and… a kimchi taste test for the Friends. I’ll start to make this happen.

    Pity that the real yummy kimchi isn’t kosher. I’m going to sort this out.

    Comment by debra — October 28, 2008 @ 16:47

  5. Looks Yummy!
    And I never told you, but I love your website!

    Comment by Berber — October 28, 2008 @ 18:38

  6. I had the honour of attending the kim chee tasting party. Such a magnificent variety of such authentic, chili rich treasures is hard to describe in words! I was surprised that the apple kim chee was my favorite. Is there anything that the great K cannot do?
    Gefeliciteered Deb for the gorgeous spread. The kimchee nation waits for more…

    Comment by Jacques — November 21, 2008 @ 15:17

  7. Ooo Yum… I had to break out a jar from storage. Miso soup and a few bites of Kimchi…. Killer !!!!!

    Comment by Jeff Pool — June 6, 2009 @ 0:46

  8. Making this right now. I can’t wait to trick out my kimchi with all sorts of crazy Beijing vegetables.


    Comment by Joanna Swan — March 9, 2011 @ 7:58

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