Kimchi 101 with Chef Kala Sung

By Amanda Kim

On Wednesday, June 17th 2015, Chef Kala Sung taught her first class called “Kimchi 101” at Court Tree Collective. Although it was an introduction to the traditional Korean side dish, the real star however was Chef Kala Sung’s creative take on her own rendition of Kimchi. Aside from the traditional fermented Napa cabbage Kimchi, Chef Kala Sung demonstrated how any vegetable can become your own creation of Kimchi. From kale Kimchi to okra Kimchi, Chef Kala Sung uses all kinds of vegetables to create her one of a kind Kimchi that everyone can enjoy.

Before the class began, Chef Kala Sung greeted her pupils with a healthy cocktail made with Aloe Vera soft drink, vodka, and chia seeds. As the pupils took their seat by the table, many were curious to see various different Kimchi dishes placed next to a dish of dried seaweed seasoned rice balls and fried tofu pockets stuffed with seasoned rice. These various different Kimchi dishes consisted off kale Kimchi, radish Kimchi, okra Kimchi, mushroom Kimchi, and scallion Kimchi.

Once the Kimchi 101 class began, Chef Kala Sung cordially invited everyone to share their knowledge about Kimchi. Almost all were familiar with the side dish and claimed their love for Korean cuisine as well. Expected to learn more about the traditional fermented Kimchi, the pupils were in for a treat when Chef Kala Sung showed a Kimchi demonstration of her own creation. Her eagerness to teach others her own rendition of Kimchi was filled with optimism and excitement.

Chef Kala Sung showed a Kimchi demonstration utilizing pursley leaves and brined cucumbers, mixed with red chili powder paste to create a simple Kimchi dish. The red chili powder paste consisted of red chili powder, garlic, ginger, shiitake mushroom broth (for vegan), and a pureed apple to create a smooth consistency. Once the paste is added to the pursley leaves and brined cucumbers, Chef Kala Sung carefully massaged the ingredients together so that the pursley leaves and cucumbers have a generous amount of red chili powder paste.

When asked about her inspiration behind her rendition of various Kimchi, Chef Kala Sung expressed her determination to promote Kimchi as a super food with many health benefits. “I really want everybody not just Koreans, but everyone to experience and taste Kimchi because it’s so healthy”. With that said, it made Chef Kala Sung think that the only way for Americans to experience Kimchi is if she bought vegetables from local food markets that everyone can also purchase. “I went to the farmer’s market and saw many different vegetables and if I can develop a recipe where ingredients are available locally, I can create Kimchi that people also can make on their own”.

After she successfully created the pursley leaves and brined cucumber Kimchi, Chef Kala Sung stated that it was her first time creating this kind of Kimchi. “At the farmer’s market I saw pursley leaves and I never used them or eat them before, I thought it’ll be nice to try different vegetables to make Kimchi. I made with cauliflower, red cabbage, and Brussel sprouts. I tried everything”. Amongst the pupils, the pursley leaves and brined cucumber Kimchi was indeed the class’ favorite.

Last week, Chef Kala Sung did a cooking demonstration at the Albee Square farmer’s market where she showed people how to make kale Kimchi. “I taught a lesson on kale Kimchi and I don’t want to teach same vegetable again, it’s boring, I want to have fun too and teach Kimchi with different vegetables”.

Chef Kala Sung also referred to Kimchi as not just a pickled vegetable, but “a good, fermented, healthier benefit for people to try by making it at home”. She believed that Kimchi is a great way for people to stay heathy and wanted to spread the benefits of Kimchi to people who’s never tried it. “My goal is, I want to make everyone healthy by my own version of Kimchi that people can make at home and I want to share my beautiful culture, it’s such a good food, I want to share with everyone since not everyone knows about Kimchi”.

Chef Kala Sung previously worked as a chef at four seasons and is now a private chef who also looks forward to teaching more Kimchi classes in the future. Her plans and motivation includes to teach a Kimchi 102 class along with a hands-on Kimchi cooking experience class as well. “I want to make new version of Kimchi and continue to make it so that people can have many different version of Kimchi”. Chef Kala Sung wants more people to appreciate Korean food and also respect the culture. Her passion for Kimchi-making motivates her to continue to create new rendition of Kimchi using not only vegetables, but also fruits as well. Chef Kala Sung already has another idea in store for her new upcoming class. She plans to create a new version of Kimchi using watermelon rinds and the juices to create watermelon Kimchi that’ll highly be enjoyable for this summer.

Chef Kala Sung will be teaching another class called Kimchi 102 at Court Tree Collective.

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