kimchi toronto

This is what a kimchi battle looks like

The 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.

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"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.

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Kimchi 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.

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Though 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.

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Distance 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.

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Presentation 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.

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Kimchi 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.

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And 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.

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But 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.

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See also: This is what a taco throwdown looks like

Writing and Photos by Terri Tu


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