Craving Homemade Kimchi? This CD-ROM Could Help

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Craving Homemade Kimchi? This CD-ROM Could Help

"Many people from abroad are very interested in kimchi. Some of them even visit Korea just to learn more about it. However, as they seldom make return trips, it can be difficult for them to further their interest in kimchi. Standardizing kimchi recipes can help foreigners to attempt kimchi themselves, contributing to the globalization of kimchi."

So says Jung Jae-hong, professor of hotel culinary arts at Ansan College of Technology, and now the author of "Kimchi Korea," the latest in a long line of works on the art of kimchi preparation. However, where her work differs is in its format: this is an interactive CD-ROM.

Currently available in Japanese as well as Korean, it contains 79 recipes for kimchi. It also boasts information on the history and different varieties of kimchi, and video files on kimchi preparation and storage.

Sales of the CD-ROM are targeted at Korean homemakers who need help in the kitchen, as well as Japanese.

Professor Jung said she hopes that the English-language edition of the CD-ROM, available in March, will help increase awareness of kimchi around the world.

According to Professor Jung, Koreans have been lax about the overseas promotion of kimchi, which is one of Korea's best-known and best-loved dishes, and comes in over 200 varieties. This neglect has meant that Korean kimchi has faced strong competition from the Japanese version, kimuchi, for official recognition from the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the UN food standards body.

"Korean kimchi was in danger of losing out to Japanese kimuchi because the Japanese were vigorously promoting their product and lobbying to get authentication," explained Professor Jung.

As might be expected from a Korean, she says she believes that Korean kimchi is superior to kimuchi in taste and every other aspect.

Professor Jung began work on the CD-ROM last May. She said that she and her student assistants grappled with kimchi in the lab every weekend for two months. They usually began at 9 a.m. and continued until 11 p.m. She often had to drive her students home because the buses had stopped running.

Her greatest problem was finding the correct ingredients for the different varieties of kimchi, as many are seasonal. She remembers stamping her feet in irritation when she failed to find the right kind of radish for dongchimi, radish pickled in salty water. She had no choice but to open a pot of dongchimi she had prepared the previous month and attempt to make the radish appear untreated for a photo.

On another occasion, she had to pilfer some yuchae (rape flowers) from a vegetable patch on the banks of the Han River because it was unavailable anywhere else.

And her search for gat, or leaf mustard, entailed making inquiries at every agricultural agency in the nation. She finally struck gold - or leaf mustard - at an office in Namyangju, Kyonggi province.

Those eager to promote Korean kimchi cite increasing world interest in the product, which mounting evidence suggests is an anticarcinogen and has excellent intestinal cleansing properties. Studies on the health effects of the dish have been stepped up.

Professor Jung next plans to publish a cookbook of dishes for a traditional Korean wedding. She said, "Kimchi, the food that represents Korea, goes well with many other national cuisines. The most important thing right now is to develop kimchi as a product with appeal in foreign countries. Finding the right dishes to use it in is just as important as learning how to make tasty kimchi."

by Ha Hyun-ock

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