A rose to mask my smelly lunch…

a smelly lunch with cucumber kimchi

Kimchi is Korea’s national dish and it will be eaten with (almost) every meal in one form or another. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage or radish. It’s packed full of flavour, low in calories, helps boost metabolism, and contains immune- and digestion-boosting probiotics.

Kimchi can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a side dish (banchan), or as an ingredient for cooking like in kimchi fried rice, kimchi stew or kimchi pancake.

If you like spicy, strong and pungent flavours, you might like Kimchi, but be warned, it is very smelly!

I do like Kimchi and eat it regularly, but I don’t pack it very often in my lunch box because of the smell. I work in a small office, in an old building with bad ventilation, and we don’t have a separate room to eat our lunch. So although my colleagues are often quite interested in the contents of my lunch box, I don’t want to have them (and me) working in a room invaded by Kimchi smells!

It’s is not that difficult to make kimchi at home, every family will have it’s own recipe (allegedly there are over 180 different kimchi varieties) and Maangchi has some great recipes and also a video which answers a lot of Kimchi questions (here). But as said, be prepared for the smell…

It’s so strong that it’s no surprise there are special Kimchi fridges. Based on my limited and recent knowledge gained while watching K-drama (which is of course not the most realistic representation of Korean life…) possession of a kimchi fridge is the ultimate dream of a “proper” Korean housewife…  (But  I am happy to be corrected on this by someone with proper knowledge of Korean life). Apparently these special fridges offer not only the special storing conditions to properly ferment the kimchi, but they also keep the smell separate from your other food!

So instead of bringing Kimchi to the office, the above plate shows my lunch at home. The cucumber kimchi is shop bought and so is the Musaengchae (radish banchan). Lots of cherry tomatoes and plain cucumber to counteract the kimchi (actually cucumber kimchi is pretty mild because of the high water content of cucumber – compared to cabbage kimchi – but it’s still very smelly), plus some carrot bits and cress. There are also the end bits of a Korean omelet which I prepared for lunches later (I freeze part of it in portions)

Obviously, the single rose can’t mask the smell at all, but I had just bought some roses and was sad to discover one stem had broken. Luckily the stem was still long enough to pop into a small vase, which looks cute next to my plate.

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9 thoughts on “A rose to mask my smelly lunch…

  1. You’re right about the kimchi fridge. They are not old and I remember when kimchi fridges first came out and become a trend. Before this innovative invention came around Koreans would store kimchi in a buried pot to keep it under right temperature. Nowadays most people live in a condo so it wouldn’t be possible to bury a kimchi pot for most of us – hence the kimchi fridge became a housewife’s dream!

  2. Ha ha! I love, love, love kimchi and could eat it every single day. During my first year in Japan, my co-worker upstairs (we lived in the same complex) had a kimchi making party. Her place stank for ages but the kimchi was top notch. She did it about once a year, I think. I still miss the cheap little pots of kimchi that we could buy from the grocery store down the street from our last apartment in Tokyo. We haven’t checked out the Korean shops in our new city. Hopefully we can find a good batch! I prefer more spice with a hint of sweet and definitely not too much vinegar. How about you?

    • I prefer my kimchi also a bit sweeter, but found that the more sour kimchi is great to use for cooking, like kimchi jeon
      Have made some in the past, but it’s just so much easier to buy it (and less smelly…)

      • Oh yes… it *is* definitely easier to buy. Good point about the more sour kimchi being better for cooking. We had some that was super sour and I couldn’t stomach eating it on its own and I remember mixing it with egg and Hitoshi stir frying it into something and it became closer to edible.

  3. i like cucumber kimchi over the cabbage variety. though for the cabbage kimchi, it tastes good when made as a soup with plenty of egg drops and strips of bacon.

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