As Ellen DeGeneres will tell you, evidently, being vegan isn’t always easy. Even once you get past the cravings—I’m the first to admit that, even after all these years, I still wake up in a cold sweat after dreaming of cheese—there are still certain nuances to the lifestyle that can prove elusive, even to us old-school vegans.
Take kimchee, for instance, the spicy fermented vegetable dish often found in traditional Korean cuisine. I am fairly certain we consumed roughly a bathtub full of this stuff before realizing—hey, kimchee almost always has some sort fish sauce or salted shrimp at its base. Ah boy.
Which is why we were, let’s say, super-psyched—to coin a little-used scientific term—when we recently stumbled across Arirang Kimchee at the Dekalb Market. For anyone who hasn’t been to the Dekalb Market, it’s essentially the Brooklyn Flea. With a lot more food. And beer. On Dekalb. I know, genius, right?
Arirang doesn’t exclusively produce vegan/vegetarian kimchee—they’ve got a traditional kimchee made with napa cabbage and one made with radishes—but they do have one that is explicitly vegan, which is a rare find. Rarer still, it’s locally made…well, in New Jersey…and hand-cut, hand-jarred, and all natural. Take that, Korean robots! As they say on the site:
“Arirang Kimchi was created after a newly wed couple decided to move to America in the hopes of an American Dream for their children. The wife comes from a background of great cooks and has extremely keen taste buds. After experimenting with a few of her own kimchi recipes and receiving compliment after compliment from friends and family, Mr. and Mrs. Oh decided to open up shop. Today, after 30 years, Arirang Kimchi still sticks to their motto “always fresh, always delicious”. Our kimchi is still hand cut and hand produced which retains the fresh quality. Mrs. Oh still samples each batch for its perfect taste ’til this day.”
I don’t know if I want Mrs. Oh rootin’ around in my kimchee before handing it over, but I’ll take the rest of it. And the stuff’s really great. We recently hosted a make-you-own-soba night and the contents of the jar went in a flash amongst a pretty kimchee-savy (non-vegan) crowd.
You can pick up a jar of the kimchee at the Dekalb Market this weekend, grab it at a number of other New York area locations (right sidebar), or order it online (the postal carrier’s gonna be all like ‘Why your mail smell like that, girl?’).
No, I’m not sure why your postal carrier talks like that.
More into making it yourself and not smelling up your mail? Check out Lukas Volger’s blog. The author of Veggie Burgers Every Which Way recently live Tweeted (yes, that’s a thing) how to make your own vegetarian kimchee. We haven’t tried it yet, but, knowing the keen culinary senses of Mr. Volger and, judging by his picture below, we’d say it’s likely top-notch.