I got introduced to Korean Cuisine by a buddhist monk.
Since I’m sensitive to MSG, I must confess that I stay away from Asian food with no distinctions… It may happen I cook fusion, but I will skip the part where you have to add processed sauces.
Besides, suffering from hyperesthesia, I don’t manage to enjoy strong taste that you can find in those countries (or eating at Bottura’s): smoked/fermented taste, fish/oyster sauce etc.
Once I saw a documentary on this Buddhist monk explaining that they were not allowed to cook with garlic or onions (a bit like Filippo La Mantia), and in order to give taste to food they were using fermentation. She was explaining as well that thanks to probiotic bacteria appearing during the fermentation process, this cooking methodology helps to cure disease like cancer, or reduce obesity and skin ageing.
I got curious about it but had no chance to dig more into the topic.
So when I was invited to a workshop on Hansik, I decide to embrace the opportunity…
Most of the foodies know already about Kimchi and just love it. But we’re not all foodies…
Korean cuisine is represented mostly by two fermented products: the fermented soja pasta (soja beans dried for months before being put in brine) and the kimchi (usually cabbage fermented with salty fish, garlic, shallots and ginger).
During the cooking demo, I had the pleasure to discover a cuisine that does two things I love: one is using a lot of vegetables and cutting them all upfront in small sticks, the second is to play on colors: while plating, but also by preserving the color of boiled veggies "diving" them into cold water.
They say that Korean Cuisine is a cosmic balance of the 5 colors (blue, red, yellow, black, white) and 5 tastes (spicy, sweet, sour, salty, bitter).
It’s interesting to see how some diets we built over the years were in harmony with the earth and the human being and as we tend to forget about it nowadays by eating processed food.
I came back from the workshop, inspired, with a beautiful book and could not wait to try some recipes (reducing the amount of garlic and onions probably for my personal taste…)
I was ready to do my own kimchi as well but I got a bit scared to do something dangerous. To my mind, fermentation is still a process related to “bacteria”. I thought: how will I know if the taste is correct as I’m not familiar to it?
Salt is supposed to be the answer that will kill any “bad” bacteria , leaving the “good” bacteria that will convert sugar into acid lactic.
At the end, fermentation is a process we use to do "lievito madre" /sourdough and most of the people have no idea about it. It may sound more familiar when we mention wine or pickles. So why to be worried, exception of some rare people that died doing pickles at home...
P.S. While looking for risks associated to kimchi, I read a few articles saying that the acidity and the salt was creating inflammation that could increase the rate of esophageal cancer, so basically, you won’t get a colon cancer, but an esophageal one? :-)
Well, I guess I will start cooking recipes without kimchi…even if my consumption would be probably not significative enough. Any volunteer to be my guinea pig during a diner?