Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://specialtyfoodmagazine.epubxp.com/i/282647

Contents of this Issue


Page 66 of 131

The Korean Table A peninsula with hot summers and cold winters, Korea is home to a cuisine that's agrarian at heart. It satisfies throughout the seasons with light and fresh noodle dishes; raw fish and coastal specialties; wild, sauteed greens and mushrooms; and rich, satisfying stews. Korean cuisine shares similar building blocks with other Asian cuisines—ginger, garlic, green onions—but differs primarily in the use of two seasonings: doenjang, fermented soybean paste, and gochu- jang, fermented red pepper paste. Koreans fell in love with chile pep- pers at first bite when the Portuguese introduced them in the 17th century. They were in wide use by the 18th century, and now grace nearly every Korean meal in some form. Tim Ashman, president of Ashman Manufacturing and Distributing Company, has witnessed the universal appeal of Korean-style chile sauces. KimKim Korean Hot Sauce, created in 2012 by Ashman and partner Steve Kim, took off faster than any other product the Virginia Beach, Va., company has introduced. Orders for four or more cases at a time have become the norm, and a line expansion is in the works. Ashman says the hot sauce, which Kim perfected based on a family recipe, was an instant hit. "It's the balance of f lavors that give it that authentic taste," he says. Authenticity is an integral part of the appeal of these essen- tials that define the Korean table: Banchan. To the Western eye, the Korean table may appear a dizzying spread of options. "Each meal consists of—at least—rice, kimchi, soup, and four to five different side dishes," says James Lee, president of Kim Chee Pride, Inc. "Korean cuisine has complex f lavors," he explains, because banchan—a procession of vegetable dishes served in small bowls at the center of the table—is central to the dining experience. Koreans KIMCHI: THE (UNOFFICIAL) NATIONAL FOOD W hat began centuries ago as a method for preserving the last cabbage harvest of the season has become the defining element of Korean cuisine. Kimjang, the ritual November pickling of cabbage for kimchi, has given way to a year-round national obsession with this tangy and pungent condiment. "It shows up at every table, every meal," says Lauryn Chun of Mother-in-Law's Kimchi. "A meal is not complete without kimchi." Kimchi has the crunch and pungency of sauerkraut, but its distinctive earthiness and fiery bite come from garlic, ginger, and Korean red pepper. "The flavor of fermentation is something Koreans really prize," explains Chun, who authored The Kimchi Cookbook. "It creates a multi-dimensional play of flavors, textures, and spices." In starting her business, Chun saw a need for kimchi to join the highest ranks of specialty foods, along with artisanal jams, cheeses, and condiments. In Korea, she explains, kimchi is a very personal culinary custom. "Everyone has a secret family recipe," she says. Chun's recipe is based on the one used at her mother's restaurant, Jang Mo Gip (which translates to "mother-in-law's house"), in Garden Grove, Calif. She sells a variety of cabbage and daikon radish kimchi at national retailers like Whole Foods, in addition to a newly launched line of gochujang pastes. The traditional recipe calls for salting and seasoning cabbage, then fermenting it in earthenware jars. It can be made with cucumber, eggplant, carrots, and pumpkin, among other vegetables, and fermentation can last as little or long as the maker desires. When aged for just a few hours or days, the result is crisp, like half-sour pickles, which is favored in the summer. Kimchi left to ferment for weeks or even years makes for a stronger, more acidic version. Kim Chee Pride has been producing all-natural kimchi in Flushing, N.Y., for more than 30 years, and James Lee has witnessed along the way the rising interest in Korean culture and cuisine in the U.S., which he says started with the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and continued to evolve. Kimchi, particularly, has been inching its way into the American condiment scene. Driven in part by the popularity of Korean-fusion food trucks, traditional takes like kimchi fried rice and kimchi stew are giving way to kimchi fritters and kimchi-topped pastrami sandwiches. "You don't have to have a Korean meal in order to enjoy kimchi," Chun says. "You can have it on your grilled cheese sandwich." 64 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com cuisineSpotlight_korea.indd 64 3/17/14 8:15 AM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Specialty Food Magazine - SPRING 2014