Where can you find fresh kimchi in Charlotte? Jars of fermented kimchi are handily found at area grocery stores. Many Asian markets have large selections, including the vast Super G Mart, which opened this summer in the former Bi-Lo space on Independence Boulevard.
Kimchi, undoubtedly the most famous Korean pickled dish, is comprised of Napa cabbage, daikon radishes and onions preserved in a solution of ginger, red chilies, garlic, sweet rice flour, fish sauce and a lot of salt. Sometimes oysters or dried shrimp replace or are an addition to the fish sauce. The longer this mixture sits as fermentation occurs, the more sour the taste. The balance of flavors — salty, spicy, sweet, bitter and sour — is what makes kimchi the ubiquitous condiment that it is.
Kimchi comes in a variety of styles. One of the more common is fresh kimchi, known as geotjeori, a dish made to be eaten crisp without fermenting. The owners at PePeRo, 10920 Monroe Road, Matthews (704-845-2107) make this kind of kimchi, but not in any predictable manner. During the past few weeks, this kimchi has been made on a Friday and once on a Saturday. The owner suggests if you are looking for fresh kimchi, you need to visit their store. You can call, but much may be lost in conversation. Speaking Korean has an advantage over the phone.
A restaurant that serves fresh kimchi is Cho Won Garden Korean Barbecue & Cuisine, 2501 Crown Point Executive Drive (704-845-6119). This kitchen makes kimchi daily. Kimchi is served as part of the seven-plus banchan (or side dishes).
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