To begin with, the Swiss chard is washed and dried. Then its leaves are rubbed with a marinade that includes salt, Korean chili powder, garlic, ginger, and an animal protein. Finally, the vegetable is placed in the fridge to ferment for days or even months. The result is a strong-smelling preserve that is very, very spicy.
Ever heard of kimchi? The ingredient described above is one of the symbols of Korean cuisine and is no longer restricted to typical South Korean cuisines to pop up in portions, sandwiches and drinks on the menu of non-Asian restaurants and bars in São Paulo.
“Kimchi is almost a matter of survival for Koreans, because it emerged as a method of preserving food,” explains Sae Kim, a South Korean who runs New Shin La Kwan, a restaurant in Bom Retiro.
The delicacy is present in every meal in the Asian country, from breakfast to dinner, and each family has its own recipe. Chard is the most traditional, but you can also prepare it with turnips, radishes, cabbage and other vegetables. In 2013, the tradition of its preparation was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
At New Shin La Kwan, the recipe is made by Kim’s mother, Suzana, and has become so popular that it’s now sold for customers to take home. Five years ago, says Kim, 150 kilos of kimchi were prepared a month — today, that amount is made a week.
The Covid pandemic was a game-changer for the search for the typical ingredient, he says. “Everyone who has watched a Korean soap opera, listened to a song, or is interested in this culture wants to try kimchi.”
The popularity of the delicacy even made Brazilians venture into the preparation. This is the case of the cook from São Paulo, Dery Lima, who works with Asian cuisine and, for two years, has prepared the preserves to order.
He started Agui Kimchi during the pandemic, offering different organic fermented and pepper pastes, made in his own home kitchen, for delivery. Orders grew and today he also sells to restaurants and retail outlets. Weekly, it produces 60 kilos of fermented Swiss chard —600 g costs R$45; 800 g, at R$ 55.
In addition to serving as a side dish, kimchi is used in dishes, sandwiches and even drinks. The selection below brings ten of these combinations and where to try them.
Requests by Instagram @aguikimchi or WhatsApp (11) 94076-5799
New Shin La Kwan
R. Prates, 343, Bom Retiro, central region, tel. (11) 3315-9021
where to try kimchi
On the menu dedicated to seafood is k-pulpo, a piece of grilled octopus with toasted rice, nori, roe and kimchi. The duo costs R$ 39.
R. Augusta, 2542, Cerqueira César, west region, tel. (11) 3062-0898
Capim Santo House
Chef Morena Leite assembles a bao with kimchi tartar and palm oil with fish breaded in tapioca, gherkin pickles, red onion, radish and sprouts. It costs R$41 and is served with cassava and Japanese mayonnaise.
Instituto Tomie Ohtake – r. Coropés, 88, Pinheiros, west region, tel. (11) 3034-4673
To accompany its own beers, the bar serves a portion of kimchi for R$12. The delicacy is also used to spice up the loin sandwich with bacon and buffalo mozzarella on ciabatta (R$40) and the Dorama Mary (R$38). ), a reinterpretation of the bloody mary with kimchi sauce.
R. Gandavo, 399, Vila Clementino, south region, Instagram @esconderijo.juancaloto
The hamburger offers a portion of fries with kimchi and melted cheese on top. Called kimcheese fries, they cost R$45.
R. Iaiá, 173, Itaim Bibi, west region, tel. (11) 3078-8098. Delivery via Rappi
The newly opened café and bar offers a daily brunch that includes, among the recipes, an omelet made with kimchi, sriracha pepper and cilantro. The dish costs R$ 29.
R. Bela Cintra, 676, Consolação, central region, Instagram @fechado.cafebar
In the restaurant, the Korean delicacy makes a bridge with the country cuisine. For R$59, the suggestion is a kimchi rice with homemade sun-dried sausage and egg (R$59), which also includes brown rice and chickpeas pulled in spicy preserves, made with green and purple cabbage, carrots, onions, coriander, babassu oil and chili peppers.
R. Cardeal Arcoverde, 2773, Pinheiros, west region, WhatsApp (11) 99674-2745. Delivery via iFood and Rappi
Kimchi appears in the filling of a sandwich, prepared with breaded chicken and fried with sriracha pepper, lettuce and mayonnaise. The snack costs R$28 and the combo with fries and soda or tea costs R$46.
R. Antônio Carlos, 395, Consolação, central region, Instagram @guarita.burger
Guillotina Bar In a milder version, the spicy ingredient is used in the sauce that covers the portion of brussels sprouts, finished with nori powder, for R$37.
R. Costa Carvalho, 84, Pinheiros, west region, tel. (11) 3031-0955
The most requested dish at the restaurant at Itaim Bibi is also the one with kimchi: a pappardelle with white ragu, without tomato sauce, with pork and beef, sheep curd and canned chard. It costs BRL 78.
R. Bandeira Paulista, 1096, Itaim Bibi, west region, tel. (11) 2925-8442
One of the suggestions is the PQP (R$48), a sandwich made on cornbread with caramelized onions in beer and melted Parmesan, semi-cured and Serra da Canastra cheeses, served with kimchi compote.
R. Amaro Cavalheiro, 45, Pinheiros, west region, tel. (11) 93208-2352. delivery via deliverydireto.com.br/tankbrewpub