11 (Mon) October 2010
The Kimchi Jjigae
from The Kimchi Jjigae
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Korea-
with the Family
Due to erratic temperature swings this summer, Korea is currently suffering an unprecedented shortage of cabbage. A single head of napa cabbage, if available, currently sells for over 15,000 won, up from less than 2,000 a few months earlier. This is an agricultural/cultural crisis that threatens the nation, where napa cabbage kimchi is typically consumed with virtually every meal of the day. Many restaurants have given up serving it altogether or limiting servings to one dish per customer or even charging for it, a measure that many find offensive. At home, we haven’t dared touch the small reserve of kimchi made prior to the crunch, just in case it gets worse. Somebody coined the term geumchi, a play on the word “geum (gold)” to signify its rare preciousness.
The Kimchi Jjigae is a Korean restaurant. Specializes in kimchi jjigae. Just opened a week ago by KIT, one of my camping buddies, who renovated his previous meat buffet restaurant (see 1.184 Spicy Grilled Eel) into this new enterprise. The restaurant’s twist on what is arguably Korea’s most ubiquitous soup is that it comes with huge chunks of pork that are meant to be wrapped and eaten in a leaf of lettuce and/or perilla in the manner of Korean barbecue. At 13,000 won for a basic order, it’s somewhat pricey, although the amount serves up to 2-3 persons, so not bad when shared.
KIT says that his stock of kimchi, which he secured before the prices went crazy, will hopefully last a month if sales are slow, a cruel culinary Catch-22.
When the camping crew dropped by for the soft opening last week, he gave each of us the basic ingredients for a single order, which I prepared tonight per his instructions and had for dinner. Despite the photo, which doesn’t make it look particularly appetizing, maybe because of the big rind of skin and fat on the pork, it was very good.