What is kimchi?
Kimchi is a Korean delicacy made from spicy, fermented vegetables. It’s got a history stretching back over 1,500 years, and it was originally developed as a method of preserving veg through hot summers and harsh winters. It’s made by chopping and brining vegetables, then combining them with a sauce traditionally made with ginger, garlic, fish and chilli, then left to ferment in buried clay pots. It can be eaten on it’s own, with rice, or as part of all sorts of recipes.
What makes Kim Kong Kimchi different?
Our kimchi ticks lots of health food boxes (it’s unpasteurised, probiotic, vegan, gluten-free and loaded with vitamins), but most importantly (to me anyway) it’s addictively, incredibly delicious!
Kim Kong Kimchi is based on baechu-style kimchi, made with hand-cut chinese leaf cabbage, carrots and spring onions. What makes our kimchi special is that we wanted to make something that tasted totally authentic and delicious, but was suitable for everyone (thus vegan & gluten-free). In order to keep the traditional flavour and rich, deep colour we source sweet, slightly smoky ‘gochugaru’ chilli flakes. While we omit fish products (as would often be found in kimchi) to keep my product vegan, we’ve found that aged ‘aka’ miso provides an excellent umami kick.
Once it’s mixed it’s left in huge barrels to ferment. Some kimchis are jarred after just 3 or 4 days, but we wanted Kim Kong Kimchi to have a richer, more developed flavour, so we ferment ours for much longer.
It’s left unpasteurised (unlike imported kimchi), to keep all the good, probiotic bacteria alive in the jar. That means that even when you get it home it will slowly develop, ripening and becoming more sour (which is great for recipes like jjigae!).
Probiotic lactic acid bacteria, like those found in kimchi, are fantastic for gut health, aiding digestion and helping the immune system, as a huge part of our immune system is in our gastrointestinal tract. Because we don’t pasteurise our kimchi, all those good probiotics are still alive in your jar.
The vegetables in kimchi are high in vitamins too, especially vitamin C and carotene, as well as vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron.
My name’s James (or Jim), and one day in January 2016 I was experimenting with a new fermentation crock, to see if I could make a kimchi that tasted as close as possible to traditional kimchi (which contains fish products) but using vegan ingredients. I created something that I thought was really delicious, but I had way too much of it! So I posted on a couple of local Facebook groups in Harringay to see if anyone wanted some, and got a really great response. Now you can find it in loads of stores, all the way from Oxford to Whitstable.