tirsdag den 27. januar 2009

turning a new (cabbage) leaf

clockwise from top: gamja jorim, miyeok guk, kimchi

it's a happy coincidence.

i mean, what are the chances that a girl born and raised in california would fall for a danish guy and then have the minerals to pack up and head over to him? moreso, what are the chances that they would still be able to tolerate eachother after living together with 5 other roommates (and occasionally more).

it's an unfortunate coincidence.

living in orange county, i was surrounded by asians. vietnamese markets and japanese restaurants no more than a 10 minute drive away from anywhere. 8oz of soft tofu? $0.99 when not on sale. dirt cheap produce (unfortunately from all over the world). a gazillion varieties of instant noodle. sadly, i had merely tolerated eating korean food. sure, when my grandmas made kimchi pancakes or rice cake soup, i ate it. but mostly to be polite. kimbap was a waste of stomach space. if my mom announced that dinner would be soondubu, i wasn't hungry. when my friends wanted to go out for kbbq, well, you guessed it. i just didn't enjoy the hodge podge of garlic, chili peppers, and sesame oil. not to mention my interest in the culture had always been zero. after all, i had been born in the states. korea was a far away country that could offer me nothing that america didn't have. all i wanted was bean burritos and sushi.

nowadays when i'm out and about in copenhagen, it's rare to see more than 2 asians in a day. i wonder how many koreans live in this country. as far as i know, there are only 3 korean restaurants in the whole city and i'll be damned if there's a k-supermarket. you'll be lucky to find 400g of tofu for any less than the equivalent of $7. hey, i thought the number of danish vegetarians was growing! wait... i'm not a vegetarian by any means. a lot of my favourite korean dishes just happen to involve that funny soy shizzle! don't get me wrong; i quickly fell in love with danish classics like smørrebrod and pickled herring. but again with distance making the heart grow fonder; less than 2 months after i moved, i was craving a cuisine that was nearly inaccessible here.

you could say i was forced to make my own kimchi.

listen, my mom is a great cook but she has never made her own kimchi. her mom does it all the time, burying the red-stained cabbage in earthenware pots in her backyard. OLD SCHOOL. and obviously it's the best-tasting kimchi ever. but come on, when we could either get that or buy a gigantic jar of it for less than $10, why go through the laborious process of making it yourself? it's messy, smelly, and the hot pepper flakes burn your skin. but i had packed the aforementioned flakes into my suitcase when i visited my parents in december and along with a slew of other strange ingredients, i hoped to make myself at home in denmark. one lonely and exceptionally homesick night, it happened. thanks to maangchi, i was encouraged to scamper out to the green grocer across the street and buy a napa cabbage (kinakål) and a daikon radish (kinaradise) that was way too long. 5 hours later, i had my beloved pickled dish and way too much confidence.

thank you, maangchi!

the kimchi has been sitting pretty for a couple weeks in the fridge as i chip away at it. i even got a few of my roommates to try it, including my fiance! they say it's good and very spicy. danes are so sweet, i wonder what they really think about it. the other night i made a skillet of kimchi bokumbap mixed with lentils and spinach (what, i couldn't afford the meat) and left it out on the stove after eating a bowlful. by the way, it was SO GOOD. 30 minutes later, someone had eaten it all! there might be potential for korean cuisine in this city after all. even though there's quite a bit of kimchi left, it bothers me that there aren't enough hot pepper flakes left to do a whole cabbage again. though a sweep of the shops around the central station will turn up something, i'm sure. denmark, i haven't given up on you yet!

1 kommentar:

Maangchi sagde ...

Your writing skill is awesome! From the beginning to the end, your story is full of excitement! : )
Congratulation on your successful kimchi making!