All I used to know about kimchi was that it was delicious and ridiculously addictive, as most pickled dishes tend to be. That was until Cham Bistro, the contemporary Korean restaurant in Pasadena, stepped in and showed me the way. Now, I know how to make kimchi and kimchi soup! I’ve come a long way.
It all started when I was invited to a how-to-make-kimchi workshop hosted by Cham Bistro. Along with a slew of other bloggers, I got step-by-step demonstration on how to make the fermented cabbage dish. I witnessed it all: the chopping, the salting, the soaking, the draining, the marinating, the folding and….
…the waiting. We had to wait a whole month to dig into the jars of kimchi that we were given at the end of the lesson. Though trying, the downtime gave me a weeks to make plans for my stash. I considered kimchi pancakes and soup, both of which were suggested with by an enthusiastic B-Side. In the end, the cold weather helped me make up my mind.
There are about a million kimchi soup recipes online, so it took some doing to find the right one. I eventually opted for one posted by Karen of Globetrotter Diaries, a blog I really admire. Karen’s recipe seemed easy enough, and I had the right amount of kimchi to do the job. All I had to buy was some pork belly, ginger, scallions, sesame oil and soft tofu. Simple and cost effective.
The result was a soup that I will describe as vibrant. The pork belly didn’t overtake the dish at all, but added sultry bites of fat to the otherwise lean soup. It had the same texture as cabbage soup that you get in a Jewish deli but none of the sweetness. The kimchi flavor remained distinct, adding a nice amount of heat, tang and saltiness.
Check out the rest of the photos from the kimchi lesson–just click to expand. Thanks to Cham Bistro for treating us to some great food and drinks while we learned.
If you want to make your kimchi from scratch, see the Gastronomer’s (she was there, too) “How to Make Kimchi” post for all the particulars.