Growing up in a family that was half Italian and half Eastern European (Polish, Czech and Hungarian), never would I have thought that kimchi, Korean fermented cabbage, would become such a widely-used ingredient in my kitchen. But it is. There’s something about kimchi’s salty, sour and spicy notes that can transform the flavors of a dish into something so unique. For example, when you add it to pizza, the sour notes of the cabbage cut through the richness of the mozzarella cheese while the salt and spice amp up the tomato sauce. I also love mixing chopped kimchi into my morning scramble, adding it to deviled eggs, or stirring it into a hot bowl of broth.
The key to really enjoying kimchi is to find a particular brand that suits your taste. There are many varieties of kimchi available for purchase, and not all of them taste good. Some can be too mushy. Others overly funky or fishy. Don’t give up on your kimchi hunt after your first bite of bad kimchi! Keep searching. Here in San Diego, my boyfriend discovered a suuuuuper tasty kimchi sold at our local farmer’s markets called Happy Pantry Kimchi. It’s got a nice spicy fermented flavor without the fishiness that can be found in traditional varieties. I also enjoy the kimchi available at Trader Joe’s.
The other option is to make a kimchi recipe at home. This will allow you to control each flavor, adding more or less of something to taste. Which brings us to this Quick Fennel and Cabbage Kimchi. Continue reading for the recipe.