On a grey cold day in Toronto, Battle Kimchi was the place to spice up your Saturday and warm up your tastebuds!
Robust. Fiery. Savoury. These are the three words Sang Kim used to describe truly amazing kimchi. Kim was the host of Battle Kimchi, held at his restaurants Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food Co. He was one of six competitors – the only male of the bunch – competing for the ultimate kimchi maker title, in which the winner gets to sell their highly prized Kimchi along with “Sang’s Kickass Kimchi” in his store.
“I’m comfortable with losing!”
Kim said, after describing the passing down of kimchi-making from mother to daughter, and the fierce expertise and competitiveness of the other five women. Kimchi is traditionally made by fermenting napa cabbage and daikon radish with a bold mix of spices, and the outcome is a truly magical and unique flavour experience! Its often described as a “super-food” because it’s high in vitamins, fiber, and probiotics.
So here’s how Battle Kimchi worked: the six competitors presented their kimchi in the raw form and then in a food application. The public got 25% of the vote, and the expert judging panel got 75%. Each competitor presented their own unique and diverse interpretations of kimchi in all its forms, and OCTA was honoured to try each one! From spicy to sweet, fresh to fermented, these women (and Sang!) knew what they were doing.
Contestant #1 was Sun Mi Kim, a mother and student hailing for Korea’s Cholla province, famously known for its style of kimchi. She, along with contestant #6, adorned a hanbok (traditional Korean dress), and served her lightly spicy and crunchy kimchi with a mung bean pancake topped with ooey-gooey cheese.
Kimchi comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, as evident in contestant #2’s preparation. Rebecca Hutton from Alchemy Pickle Company chose to just use Daikon in her kimchi, as she only uses local Ontario ingredients. Her kimchi had an amazing texture and flavour, and her application, “The grilled Kim-cheese” was a perfect combination of salty and crunchy.
Belle Park – contestant #3 – is a natural food caterer who presented two types of kimchi: one freshly made the day before and one fermented for a two weeks. Her application was one of the stars of the show: delicious soba noodles with kimchi, nori, egg, and watercress that was a delight on the eyes and taste buds.
Kimchi poutine? Yes, Please! Contestant #4, Kathy Kim, unfortunately couldn’t be there (slight problem, she lives in Vancouver!), but she sent over an amazing Kimchi, standing out for its sweetness and freshness.
Contestant #5 was the one and only Sang Kim, with his kickass kimchi having a tangy fiery flavour. His application was salmon sashimi cured in kimchi juice, creating a delicate and spicy treat.
Seung Ah Kim was the last contestant, but certainly not one to forget! Her kimchi packed the biggest punch, and her application was perfectly balanced and simple: kimchi on nori and rice with traditionally fried daikon. Seung Ah Kim is a professional storyteller, and after the battle was fought, she told a self-created folktale about two fighting brothers – kim and chi – who are brought together by their mom’s creation of kimchi and the eternal love between mu (daikon) and pechu (cabbage). After her amazing story, Seung demonstrated that traditional process in making kimchi. It might be a time-consuming process, but in her own words,
“Kimchi is love. Without love, you can’t make it!”
And the winner is….
Belle Park! Her Kimchi will be available at Seoul Food Co. next month, so come pick up a bottle and experience all this fiery super-food has to offer.