International Kimchi Day 2021: The Best Kimchi Dishes Our Editors Love
Kimchi, a staple in Korean cuisine, can be cooked in a number of ways—in rice, in soup, in noodles, in a pancake or even just as a side dish. Indulging in Korean food just isn’t complete without kimchi. And just like K-pop, Korean dramas and movies, kimchi has also reached global status.
But did you know that there’s an actual day that celebrates this spicy condiment? The Kimchi Association of Korea chose November 22 as International Kimchi Day since 2017—the date was chosen based on scientific research. According to the association, this is the day when the kimchi’s flavour is at its best.
To join in the celebration, our Tatler editors share their favourite kimchi dishes for you to try. Read on to find out what they are.
I love kimchi of all varieties—baechu (classic cabbage), oi sobagi (stuffed cucumber), kkakdugi (cubed radish) and so on—but unfermented geotjeori (fresh cabbage kimchi) is probably one of my favourites. It’s the crispness of the fresh cabbage with the spicy kick of the gochugaru (Korean chili pepper) that makes this particular variation so great to eat just on plain steamed rice.
The version at Jin Luo Bao—a pretty old-school Korean restaurant that has been at Island Beverly in Causeway Bay for as long as I can remember—is excellent, with snappy leaves and punchy yet balanced spice. If I’m going the fermented kimchi route, it’s hard to beat the comforting profile of a good kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) with properly old, tangy cabbage, or the hot delicious mess that is budae jjigae, or army stew, with all the essential goodies such as spam, instant noodles and even baked beans.
— Charmaine Mok, Content Director, Tatler Dining Hong Kong
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The kimchi stew with pork at Sorabol Korean Restaurant in Causeway Bay. This is the most perfect winter dish. Actually, scratch that, it’s a perfect dish all year round. Savoury, sour and spicy, this stew is served in an earthenware pot which keeps it steaming hot—the correct temperature to eat it.
Chock full of pork, kimchi, tofu, mushroom and round rice cakes, every bite has a different texture. It’s served with the most perfect rice, a selection of banchan and a side of orange slices for dessert. The best time to go is in the afternoon, because the lunch deal is excellent value for money, although you might not get much work done after!
— Amalissa Hall, Style Writer, Asia
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What’s better than stir-fried pork belly with kimchi for a quick and easy dinner? The brilliance of this simple dish is that kimchi is so flavorful that the pork belly does not need much seasoning, just to absorb the kimchi juices to create a delicious complex stir-fry.
A little secret here is to use sesame oil which increases the aromas. I followed the recipe of the Japanese online recipe platform Delish Kitchen—it’s perfect for cooking beginners like me!
— Cristen Tsoi, Digital Writer, Hong Kong
Call it dull or basic but I absolutely love Kimchi fried rice. It’s so easy to make yet so filling! I love the one at Uncle Padak’s—affordable and a good portion. I can’t that spice that much but kimchi is an exception and the one at Uncle Padak’s is just the way I like it.
I usually go to eat kimchi fried rice on a rainy day and pair it with soju (mixed with beer) and Korean fried chicken with radish on the side while binge-watching Korean dramas—the perfect way for me to unwind.
— Jianne Soriano, Digital Writer, Hong Kong
Some people baked bread as their pandemic hobby, I got into kimchi. Many batches, and lots of gochugaru later, I'm pretty happy with my attempts––but I’ve still not been brave enough to let anyone else try it yet! I’ve followed Korean food writer and blogger Maangchi’s recipe pretty much to the letter, and would recommend it as an easy beginner’s recipe if you want to try your own!
— Sam Book, Digital Content Director, Hong Kong and Social Media Director, Asia
To celebrate International Kimchi Day, I plan to make this kimchi gratin recipe from Food 52. Spicy, sour and cheesy. What more could you ask? If you’re vegetarian, just make sure you're not buying kimchi made with fish. Green Common sells a couple of different vegan options, but the much cheaper version is just to make your own, at least three days ahead of serving.
— Lauren James, Deputy Editor, Hong Kong
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The fried kimchi seafood and onion pancake I had at Sorabol Korean Restaurant in Causeway Bay was a memorable triumph of freshness, spice and texture. Featuring a simple yet delicious mix of ingredients with kimchi’s tangy and spicy flavour setting the perfect base for the pancake batter, this classic Korean dish is always at the top of my list of comforting dishes.
Sorabol’s creations are fried to a glorious crisp, offering an explosion of flavours in every bite and taste even better paired with the dipping soy sauce...their pancakes always had me fighting for bites with my fellow spicy food-loving dining companion!
— Helen Yu, Assistant Editor, Hong Kong
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Korean eatery OBP’s kimchi pancakes are hands-down one of the best kimchi dishes I’ve had recently. Using house-made kimchi and applewood-smoked bacon, and served with a side of house pickles, the pancakes are expertly cooked to a crisp sear while maintaining a moist interior. The earthy, sour and spicy notes of the kimchi open up the appetite for the meal ahead, and of course, drinking as well—perhaps a bottle of makgeolli?
— Gavin Yeung, Editor, Tatler Dining Hong Kong
Kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) is one of my favourite kimchi dishes. This ultra comforting spicy stew is loaded with pork, tofu and kimchi. I like to eat it with plain steamed rice, especially in the wintertime! It’s simply irresistible!
— Doris Wu, Sales Manager, Tatler Dining Hong Kong
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I always have kimchi in the fridge. Shamefully, it's usually store-bought, as I haven't quite got around to making my own—though that does mean it's always there and not mid-ferment. And because of that, it features in one of my favourite fall-back recipes, a basic noodle soup made from chicken stock, egg and rice noodles.
It’s a riff on a recipe I saw that additionally included parmesan and black pepper, instead of which I decided to substitute kimchi and chilli oil. Depending on what’s in the fridge, I might add some shredded chicken, tofu, spinach, and/or leftover vegetables. There are plenty of possibilities ensuring this bowl of kimchi noodles never gets boring.
— Rachel Duffell, Regional Content Director, Tatler Dining