Chi for Your Chi
Not long ago, the fermented cabbage condiment kimchi was mainly found in Korean restaurants. But the American public’s enthusiasm for all things healthy and for improving one’s chi (life-force) has created a surge of interest in kimchi. Vietnamese-born/ Rhode Island–bred Minnie Luong and husband Tim Greenwald moved back from Los Angeles, where their daily grocery store was Korean, in 2015 to establish Chi Kitchen, which turns out handcrafted kimchi in “Napa” and “vegan” variations. Both begin with brining Napa cabbage to kill the “bad bacteria” and encourage the “good bacteria.” Once the salt is rinsed off, seasonings such as garlic, ginger and red chili are added, and the mixture is left to ferment for several days before bottling.
“We set out to create a kimchi for kimchi lovers,” Luong emphasizes. “It’s not for the timid, but we wanted it well-balanced, tangy, briny and spicy."
They also wanted to add umami with wild black anchovy fish sauce (to the Napa) and white miso to the vegan. Customers tell Luong they are addicted to it, and she feels that may be because fermentation was one of the first ways of preserving food and our bodies crave the natural probiotics in kimchi. And its tantalizing flavors.
Available at farmers’ markets in Rhode Island and Massachusetts (Coastal Growers and Hope Street in RI); Dave’s Marketplace stores and The Pantry at Avenue N, Rumford, RI. Visit ChiKitchenFoods.com.