Kimchi Banchan at the Koreana Restaurant in Ottawa
I have previously posted a number of my own recipes for Kimchi, with two of these being Napa Cabbage varieties. One of these is a Basic Cabbage Kimchi, much like the one shown above, while the other is a more complex Cabbage Kimchi with Conpoy and Dried Shrimp. I take a fair amount of pride in my Kimchi preparations, and I believe that some are pretty darned good, but I have to be honest and say that, so far, I don’t believe I have managed to match the truly excellent Cabbage Kimchi served to me at the Koreana Restaurant in Ottawa.
Part of the appeal of this particular dish was that it was not on the menu and was supplied free of charge unexpectedly. I noted, with some surprise that there were no Kimchi dishes listed on the menu and my waitress informed me that it usually only comes as a side to main course meals. I was only ordering some of the appetizer sized dishes (which is my preferred way to eat in many restaurants) and therefore not actually entitled to any ‘Banchan’ servings. Accordingly, I was pleasantly surprised when my very nice server brought me a little dish ‘just to taste’.
The Kimchi my server brought me was a very simple Napa Cabbage type and it was very clear that it had been made with Korean powdered chili, rather than Gochujang (which yields a completely different taste). If you follow the links to my recipes provided above, you will see that the Basic type is made with Gochujang, while the complex version uses powdered Chili.
Anyway, the complimentary Koreana Kimchi had been fermented to the perfect degree of sourness (for my taste, at least), but the Cabbage still retained a pleasant crispness. Another feature of the dish was that the taste was not dominated by the acidity, nor the sulfurous compounds that can become more pronounced after fermentation.
Napa Cabbage has a delightful sweetness when fresh and, here, this taste managed to survive the Kimchi-making process. Indeed, the subtle effect of the Chili, along with the chemical changes of lactic-acid fermentation managed to produce a background sweetness that was almost fruity. I was happy to give the Kimchi Banchan at Koreana a Rating of 5 out of 5.