It's no secret that we love kimchi!
I (Jen) first tried it in 2008 when I lived in the USA for student exchange and the family that I was staying with was also hosting a girl from South Korea, Haerang. She introduced me to some Korean dishes like Jjajangmyeon (chewy noodles in black bean sauce), Instant Ramyeon and of course, kimchi!
For anyone unaware, kimchi is the national dish of South Korea and whilst there are many types of it, the most traditional and classic version is made of napa cabbage, radish, spring onions and carrot with a flavourful gochugaru (Korean chilli flake) paste. The whole thing is then fermented and usually eaten as a side dish. It's spicy, tangy, savoury, crunchy... it's a bit like Sauerkraut but spicy!
When Kier and I started Condimaniac, I knew it wouldn't be long before we'd introduce a Korean inspired product and whilst we were actually planning on it being kimchi, there are some issues with selling it online: It's alive.
Don't get me wrong, that's a wonderful thing and really what makes it so healthy and tasty, but it also means that it doesn't really stop fermenting. The only way to slow it down is to keep it cold, so shipping it through the postal network means it gets warm and may explode or leak! Temperature-controlled shipping is extremely expensive and just wouldn't be worth it for one product, so we've struggled with a solution for a while - we've got a great wild-fermented kimchi recipe ready, just not 100% there with how to get it to you. Anyway, that was a long winded way of getting to how kimchi pickle came about. It was a way of trying to bring the essence of kimchi flavour to you without the shipping issues. So whilst traditional kimchi doesn't contain vinegar, it lends itself really well for replicating the tangy nature of it.
It's shelf-stable unopened so a breeze to ship and once opened if you keep it in the fridge, it'll last months and it won't change flavour like fermented kimchi will. It's really its own product rather than a wannabe kimchi as we have both in our household at all times - and both get used in different scenarios. I like to think of kimchi pickle as a crunchy spicy vegetable cocktail.
One day we will also offer you our wild-fermented kimchi, but for now, this is a nice one to try as well. I don't actually know if anyone else has done something like this yet, but also what's truly original anymore nowadays, so it wouldn't surprise me. I certainly haven't seen it before, but I hope it catches on.
Use it as a side dish, on a hot dog, in a sandwich (lightly drain beforehand), on a burger, in a salad... or just eat it out of the jar like I do!