'Kimchee is a let-down if you are familiar with Korean cuisine.' said Marina O'Loughlin in Metro last month.
Waiting to be seen at my local GP, I picked up the newspaper and flicked through until my eyes caught that head line.
You know, being away from home-home for so long, for me, it is always exciting when I see any descriptions of Korea or Seoul. It brings little butterflies in my tummy and makes me wonder what it is all about.
Some ends up as a joy of proudness and others, unfortunately digs up a pond of sadness.
But it is however, always comforting knowing we are here; staying guests of this culturally celebrated land of London, participating and contributing towards ever so growing multi-cultural society.
The exciting part of the article was that it was quite clearly a restaurant review about this hoping-to-be up-and-coming Korean restaurant, Kimchee.
The unfortunate part of it was, sadly it is not doing it how it should be. It is not super chic kick ass cool Korea.
I must say, it is probably quite hard to make Korean food appeal to everyone.
Shortages of interests and the lack of gastronomic cultural education about the cuisine, people who are doing this Korean food business probably starts thinking they have to diffuse the original contents and become a fusion fare in order to attract the punters which ultimately results a confusion in what this bloody food is all about.
An utter shame.
Of course, some alterations must be made to fit the target markets and to compete with this ever so growing food industry. But this does not require of losing its identity or its authenticity, surely.
There's no doubt it is a great start that Korean food is being recognised and gathering more audiences to its tables.
I just hope that they do it how it should be. No charges to the side dishes, and well informed staffs to guide us on how it is done to enjoy great Korean table.
Visit to the Korean restaurant should be a high octane fun filled journey of its culture that makes you want to go back for more and some more.
Before I read the review, I heard of Kimchee and thought of trying them with couple of friends. But I might just give it a miss and have my friends over at mine instead for some good old home cooked kimchi hot pot/stew, whatever you want to call it.
Mum's kimchi Jjigae
some freshly prepared kimchi ( you can source this from most of oriental/asian supermarket)
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped
150-200g pork shoulder stakes, sliced (substitute with tuna, shellfish or some mushrooms, if you preper)
some tofu, cubed
spring onions, sliced
1tbsp fish sauce
500-750ml water or your choice of stock
1/2 tsp sugar
1tsp corse chilli powder
2tbsp rice bran oil or vegetable oil
The most important part of this dish is the kimchi/kimchee.
If you want, you can make this of course which I am hoping to share with you one day on how to following my memories of my family's recipe.
However, in this occasion like many other times when I'm up for a little short cut that still provides great quality, I am using shop bought kimchi. Make a trip to a oriental or asian food store and source freshly prepared Korean kimchi. They come as roughly chopped or quartered.
It is best use the ones that had been sitting in your fridge for a little while. The riper they are, the better the dish becomes. It gives more matured depth of flavour in my opinion.
Please do make sure to save all the juices/liquid it comes with as well.
They are packed full of goodnesses you want; garlic, ginger, fish sauce, shrimp paste and etc, you name it. All mingled together for subtle but all mighty flavours.
Start the dish by frying some onions over medium heat in oil. Once softened, add garlic, kimchi, sugar and chilli powder. After about 10mins or so, add pork slices in with the fish sauce and the juices from the kimchi. Keep stirring for couple of minutes and add water or choice of your stock. Bring them up to boil and then simmer for 45mins over low heat. You might want to give it a good stir every now and then but you can pretty much leave it to do its own thing.
About 10mins before it is due, add the tofu cubes. Once ready, garnish it with some spring onions and serve with freshly cooked white steamed rice.
I know you are not used to all this but please, try.
And I, I promise you, you will be delighted with a mouth watering, tongue twisting and nose sweating deliciousness. Sweet, sour and kindly spicy; a delectable, mouth full of surprises.