Who moved my kimchi smell?
Posted On March 30, 2021
Kimchi is not only one of the most important Korean side dishes that is also used in Korean stews and main dishes, but many, many of us love its unique smell. I love my kimchi and fried rice, and yes, the smell of fried kimchi is half the pleasure. I can’t imagine making and then looking at a kimchi fried rice dish that imparts NO ODOR of kimchi. What kind of culinary nightmare is this?
Well, the apparent nightmare, much like your favorite movie without sound, with or without color, or a cup of coffee in the morning without coffee aromatics, is now a dream or a nightmare come true depending on how you prefer your kimchi.
The garnish, as it has been served for hundreds of years, is, for most kimchi connoisseurs, perfect with its pungent smell and it even has its own national event called Kimjang. In preparation for the colder months of the year, the entire Korean nation participates in ingredient gathering, making, and storing Kimchi for Um-dong (the coldest 3-4 months of winter). This is one of the most important annual events. Housewives, friends, relatives and neighbors collaborate. In previous years, each fall, families traditionally took turns helping each other make Kimchi for the harsh winters to come, with its wonderful fermented smell, you might add.
The annual event strengthened ties between family and neighbors by perpetuating the spirit of “Pumasi” – Spirit of mutual aid.
This tradition has been lost in some areas due to cultural modernization, busier schedules, the availability of ready-to-eat Kimchi in local stores, and the revolutionary Kimchi refrigerator that extends freshness using lower temperatures.
Now, 56-year-old Kim Soon-ja (named First Kimchi Master by the South Korean Food Ministry in 2007) has created a Kimchi that doesn’t smell. She has run her own factory since 1986 and now has a patent on the toilet kimchi. Their creation is a new type of freeze-dried pickled cabbage that doesn’t smell even after adding water. 
As selfish as it may sound, I am not so interested in the reaction of the foreign palettes as what you might think of it. I understand Korea’s fight for the globalization of Korean food and kimchi in particular, but I love the smell of kimchi followed by the taste of the heavenly spicy pickled treat.
The Seoul-based Korea Institute of Image Communication surveyed that the unique smell of Korean food is the biggest obstacle to culinary globalization. Of course, fermenting cabbage, garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovies, fish sauce, and ginger greatly improves your chances of having kimchi breath, but that’s what brushing and breath mints are for!
Consider also that if such odorless kimchi and Korean cuisine in general are approaching the desired culinary globalization, what are we going to do with the 3,000-year-old kimchi recipes and approaches when asked about it? What do we say to those who order REAL kimchi at restaurants? Could we provide separate seating like we did for smokers? I’m being a bit extreme, of course, but I suppose we can provide a pseudo kimchi for those who aren’t willing to risk being around the smell of healthy fermented food. For the supplier, it could even be an additional source of income and is likely to sell for more than the actual product. One of the few requirements for a ridiculous price is the novelty factor and an odorless kimchi will certainly have it. People are funny that way, don’t you know?
Once the odor is removed, what does odorless kimchi taste like? Well, I personally haven’t had a chance to taste it, but I’m extremely doubtful and pessimistic that I’d enjoy it the way I do freshly served, naturally fermented kimchi with all its glorious smell. However, I’ll keep my mind open enough to say that I haven’t tried it yet and until I do I will have to hold my tongue a bit and effortlessly sniff the thing out, remember it’s odorless …
The creator of the odorless kimchi brand ‘just add water’ speaks best by saying, “When soaked in hot or cold water for a few minutes, it will turn into normal kimchi,” says Kim, the owner of Han. Sung Food at the suburbs of Seoul.
It sounded and reminded me of the sterilized, irradiated kimchi that was developed for space travel when astronaut Ko San entered orbit in April 2008.
I’m sure the creator of the odorless creation has nothing but great things to say about Kimchi, but I want the pungent smell to be part of the experience for many of us. For kimchi dealers like me, this odorless variety would be like a smoked barbecue without a trace of smoked meat in the air or a pastry with no sweet effect on the nose.
A food science professor at Kyung Hee University said, “Some people who like freshness don’t like ‘dry kimchi.’ The dish, an acquired taste, is not the same without its telltale aroma. says Cho.
I’d also be concerned about missing any of the true health benefits of traditional kimchi compared to its odorless counterpart. I enjoy the smell of my kimchi as it is served and I indulge myself. Despite the lack of its natural smell, I can’t help but wonder if the health benefits of odorless kimchi remain intact to include antitoxins, antiallergens, and antibiotics.
From Wikipedia: (Regarding REAL Kimchi)
“Health magazine named kimchi on its list of the five” World’s Healthiest Foods “for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth.
A Seoul National University study claimed that chickens infected with the H5N1 virus, also called bird flu, recovered after eating food that contained the same bacteria found in kimchi. However, the veracity of these results has been questioned due to the very small sample size of only a handful of chickens and the fact that no subsequent research supported the claims. During the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia, many people even believed that kimchi could protect against infection, although there was no scientific evidence to support this belief.
However, in May 2009, the Korea Food Research Institute, Korea’s state food research organization, said it had conducted a larger study on 200 chickens, supporting the effectiveness of kimchi in fighting bird flu. “. 
Among the real health benefits of Kimchi are better gut maintenance, omega-6 fatty acids, combats unhealthy cholesterol levels, high levels of garlic that contribute to high levels of allicin, a natural source of selenium and cleanser of arteries, and high content of chili with its content vitamin C. 
I suppose my future dining experiences may require a call in advance to specify and ensure that I am served the traditional stinky kimchi following my preference between the best tap water or mineral water in town. So if a slice of this odorless kimchi makes it to my table, for my taste it will be only half the experience.
It would certainly be a table and restaurant that he would have to avoid. I mean kimchi has traditionally been served fresh or slightly aged with all its natural flavors and fermented smell just as it was made 2600-3000 years ago. It’s hard to let go of such an old habit, you know?
I must admit that opening a kimchi jar will release a strong and lingering smell that most would find very noticeable and perhaps offensive. If I travel and cannot go where it is served as standard, having to eat in a hotel room or someone else’s house, I would be more than happy to venture into the usual food of the region. I mean, when you’re in Rome, you don’t fill your tupperware with kimchi. And even then, I know that in many parts of the world I can buy enough kimchi locally to meet my needs. This is not like asking for $ 750 a pound for white truffles during an expedition to the Amazon.
I reached out to Kim Soon-ja to get a sample of her Kimchi as I would like to review her product on my Love That Kimchi.com site. Just as I tried Granny Choe’s traditional kimchi (complete with the wonderful smell of fermented cabbage and ancient ingredients) and now recommend it on my site, I would offer a completely fair and unbiased review of odorless kimchi for both traditionalists and those alike. They have stayed away from this gem because of the smell. Despite having my strong preference, I can offer a fair review on the merits of taste alone. This despite a strong connection between the sense of smell and taste, at least mine. It may be like judging a steak sizzling, right before your eyes, without the smell of meat, but it would be the taste, after all, that is being judged. I had to make it worse.
Until then, with all due respect, and I mean it, I believe that ‘odorless kimchi’ will be tolerated among true lovers of Korean cuisine as much as zirconia diamonds among gemstone collectors.
In the meantime, I’m grateful to keep and as long as it’s acceptable to go back to my stinky kimchi.
I enjoy every mouthful of cabbage’s perfectly balanced fermented flavors and ingredients that make this strong-smelling food one of the top five healthiest foods in the world according to Health Magazine. But then again, what do those shmuks know about these things, right?
Finally, for those not willing to settle, remember, if it looks like kimchi, it SMELLS like kimchi, it is served as kimchi, then it is probably REAL kimchi.
In the meantime, don’t make me wonder who stirred my kimchi scent.