Judy is the host of Food Network’s Korean Food Made Simple and runs her own Seoul Bird restaurants in central London. She will be demonstrating how to make kimchi, a traditional Korean dish of salted and fermented vegetables. Here, Judy shares her passion for cooking and explains more about the importance of kimchi in Korean culture.
Food has always been a huge part of my life. My mother was an amazing cook, everything was made from scratch and so growing up I was constantly surrounded by authentic home-cooked Korean food.
I often watched my mum make huge vats of kimchi, which we stored in dozens of glass jars stacked precariously in our laundry room. At home food was a language of love and I learned so much from her. I hope to feed the soul through my cooking in the way her cooking does.
No meal in Korea is complete without kimchi on the table. There are officially 200 different varieties of kimchi so there is always plenty of choice! An incredible 1.5 million tons of kimchi is consumed every year in Korea and so there is no surprise it’s synonymous with Korean culture.
Kimchi, as we know it, began in the 17th Century as a way to primarily prolong the shelf life of fruit and vegetables through fermentation. This humble side dish is now popular worldwide and the Korean Embassy has launched The Kimchi Project with Westminster Kingsway College to make authentic kimchi more accessible in the UK. Kimchi plays a huge part in my cooking at home and at my Seoul Bird restaurants. I use it to spice up many of my fusion dishes and give them a distinct Korean twist. It is that little extra kick that transforms a plate into something extraordinary and truly memorable. Kimchi adds a deep complex flavour and a serious umami hit. At Seoul Bird I serve a zesty kimchi mac and cheese, which has become a menu favourite.
I am thrilled to be sharing the art of making kimchi and my own recipe as a part of the Korean Embassy’s current project Kimchi on the British Table at Westminster Kingsway College on 15 November. This masterclass will teach you how to make kimchi at home and give you an insight into its many health benefits.
There is an old Korean saying – ‘We cannot build a nation by keeping the people hungry and unhealthy’ – as such, kimchi is eaten at every meal. The fermentation process in making kimchi produces good bacteria excellent for gut health and is also known to support heart health and blood sugar management.
Westminster Kingsway College has been pioneering work on culinary nutrition, so alongside my masterclass, Elaine Macaninch, Nutrition Lead and Director of Culinary Medicine UK, will be discussing the many benefits of kimchi, including how it can help to boost your immune system and enhance nutritional value.
Westminster Kingsway College has also facilitated exciting conversations around hospitality and food in the past. In 2018, I spoke at their event A Profession for All, which discussed the key role that women play in the hospitality industry. I am delighted to be joining them alongside the Korean Embassy, to celebrate kimchi as a cornerstone of Korean cuisine and culture through my masterclass.
Here is one of my favourite kimchi recipes from my book Korean Soul Food, Whole Radish Kimchi. I love this kimchi because the radishes provide a much crunchier and more satisfying bite.