And it's not just kimchi that terrifies me, but all forms of fermented cabbage, like sauerkraut.
But you can't say I'm not a trooper. I've eaten sauerkraut on hotdogs and with porkchops. I've tried kimchi in fine Asian restaurants, mostly Korean barbecue places. And I've tried multiple different kinds of it. I did appreciate some of the varieties a little more than the traditional cabbage-based one, but none so much that I'd snack on them on any normal occasion. I just can't get into it.
Recently, an excellent article about fermented foods by Ellen Byron went up on the Wall Street Journal site. (If that link takes you to a "Get the Full Story" screen, that means they've placed the article behind their paid subscriber wall). And it really got me thinking. It got me thinking that if a delicious condiment like Sriracha is actually fermented, a fact I was previously unaware of, that maybe I should give this whole kimchi thing another whirl.
I thought that maybe the dryness of this Trader Joe's product would cut down on the grossness of the kimchi. When it's all wet, I just can't get it out of my mind that it's cabbage being broken down into a liquid slowly by millions of little bacteria. So, after postponing the consumption of the dried kimchi as long as possible, I finally decided to be brave and open the bag. There were dozens of chunks of dried kimchi with a dusting of a powdered version of the traditional red spices you'd find on any regular kimchi. It looked and felt like the bag of kale chips I reviewed a while back. The taste, however, was very different from the kale chips.
Chalk it up to my aversion to kimchi if you must, but I simply can't recommend this stuff like I did that delicious bag of dried kale coated in a weird nacho sauce. This stuff STILL TASTES LIKE ROTTING CABBAGE!
I found it a shade more palatable when I ate it in a bowl of ramen instead of straight out of the bag, but in the former case, it gets wet again. I imagine that the millions of little bacteria responsible for the sourness of the cabbage have been in suspended animation for months, and then when I drop it into my bowl of warm soup, they come to life again like a package of Amazing Live Sea Monkeys and begin swimming about, devouring bits of cabbage and ramen, rushing to establish a culture of their own in my bowl before I can gag them all down and digest them.
My wife Sonia, who generally appreciates regular kimchi, felt like TJ's Dried Kimchi was mostly flavorless. I disagree. I think it tastes sour like authentic rotting cabbage. And I also tasted the spices, which I might have actually enjoyed if they were sprinkled onto, say kale, instead of ... rotting cabbage. Neither Sonia nor I could ever feature ourselves buying this again, but perhaps for slightly different reasons. I can only recommend trying this product if you're a big fan of regular cabbage-based kimchi. I know you kimchi fans are out there, and I wish I could join your ranks. But this is one food I fear I may never fully develop an appreciation for.
Sonia gives it 3 stars. I give it 2.5.
Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.