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Eat & Drink

This is what a kimchi battle looks like

Posted by Guest Contributor / February 25, 2013

kimchi torontoThe humble cabbage never tasted so good. Yakitori Bar hosted the inaugural Battle Kimchi this past Saturday. I came for the battle but left with the history of this Korean dish which is steeped in family legacy. Six contestants proudly represented their recipes where a panel of culinary judges and the audience selected a winner.

kimchi toronto"Robust, fiery, and savoury," are what makes a great kimchi says Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food Co. owner Sang Kim. His "Sang's Kickass Kimchi" is sold at his restaurant. In fact the winner will also have their kimchi sold alongside his.

kimchi torontoKimchi is a labour of love, and the technique is often passed down through grandmothers. Master storyteller Seung Ah Kim describes her refreshing open-faced snack of nori, rice, radish, spicy kimchi, with a hint of perilla oil as home-style country cooking.

kimchi torontoThough traditional and unconventional can tastily meet together. Sun Mi Kim, a mother and student, entered a Kimchi Pancake made with mung beans topped with sweet mozzarella and cheddar, which came together harmoniously.

kimchi torontoDistance wasn't a problem for Kathy Kim from Vancouver, owner of Kim's Marts, who couriered over her entry. East meets west in more ways then one with her quirky crowd pleaser Kimchi Poutine.

kimchi torontoPresentation is also important in Korean cuisine. Belle Park's Soba noodles with kimchi and watercress made us eat with our eyes. The natural food caterer's kimchi was a balance of spice, savoury, sweet, and sour and added just the right addition to the noodle dish.

kimchi torontoKimchi also comes in different shapes and sizes. Rebekka Hutton, owner of Alchemy Pickle Co. used diced daikon instead of the traditional thinly sliced vegetables. The kimchi added a crunch to her simple and delicious crostini of frilano and cheddar topped with kimchi.

kimchi torontoAnd our last contestant, host Sang Kim provided a decadent Salmon Sashimi with kimchi lime sauce. The hint of citrus complimented the fish and spice wonderfully.

kimchi torontoBut Battle Kimchi was not just a competition. Seung Ah Kim got the crowd involved in her kimchi story and demonstration. And the day capped off with a 5-course prixe fix dinner where every dish inventively contained kimchi.

The day was full of stories and kimchi secrets but we were all waiting for the results. With her beautifully balanced dish, the winner of Battle Kimchi was Belle Park.

kimchi torontokimchi torontokimchi torontokimchi torontoSee also: This is what a taco throwdown looks like

Writing and Photos by Terri Tu



Greg / February 25, 2013 at 03:10 pm
The lemming foodies of Toronto- = pathetic
Greg / February 25, 2013 at 03:15 pm
Blehh, fun is for losers and poseurs.
rob / February 25, 2013 at 03:16 pm
pho / February 25, 2013 at 03:55 pm
This looked pretty fun. Four out of six contestants were Kims. awesome.
Kim / February 25, 2013 at 10:46 pm
Why wern't some of the bigger Korean restaurants invited or some of the bigger Kimchi manufacturers? Sounds like a closed contest between friends.
Jason Kucherawy replying to a comment from Kim / February 26, 2013 at 12:20 am
Yakitori Bar is a smallish restaurant and this wasn't the "Kimchi Olympics". Sang Kim announced the contest through social media and word spread through his friends and followers. If I hosted a chili cooking contest at my place for fun, I probably wouldn't invite restaurants to compete - I'd invite my friends.
Sang Kim / February 26, 2013 at 12:29 am
As the organizer, I did not know a single person participating in the event until calls were put out. To answer your questions, some context is required.
1. Originally, I had intended that it would be an event for grandmothers in the community so that they- most of whom are on social assistance- can benefit financially from winning the competition. They did not want to be in the spotlight.
2. Regarding the kimchi manufacturers, almost all of whom are produce their products in factories in Korea and China, well, they all use MSG to preserve their kimchi. I did not want that in the competition.
3. I am the owner of a Korean restaurant. However, as most people know, I work really hard to reach out to everyone and am friends with the owners of most Korean restaurants in the city. Unfortunately, it was not something they felt they had time to participate in. They run restaurants- a 24 hour job.
In the end, I wanted non-professional cooks, people who deserve, as amply as possible, to have attention paid to their daily work in the kitchen. The winner, Belle Park, is one such person. I had to get involved myself, knowing I would lose, because two of the participants dropped out in the days leading up to the event. Hence, also, the Vancouver contribution.
Asian Catering Services / February 26, 2013 at 04:56 am
Impressive i liked the way it is made and presented and would love to give it a try.
j-rock / February 26, 2013 at 09:15 am
I heard Sang Kim on the radio talking about this and it sounded really interesting. I'm the least Korean guy around, but I love kimchi. Although most of what I eat at restaurants or buy in the shops pales in comparison to what some of my friends' moms make. Congratulations to Belle Park, I love how happy she looks in that last photo.
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