No Korean meal is complete without a bit of kimchi, the love-or-hate-it fermented vegetable preparation, usually made of cabbage or radish. Kimchi's flavor varies widely depending on how it's made. It can anywhere from bright red and spicy with plenty of Korean chile powder to over-the-top-brush-your-teeth-immediately garlicky. Personally, I love them all and eat plenty of kimchi straight out of the jar, standing in front of an open fridge.
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Everything about cellophane noodles is just kind of fun—their cool plasticky appearance, their chewy, springy texture, the way they soften within seconds on coming into contact with hot water, and of course, eating them. This recipe for Japchae from Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee's Quick and Easy Korean Cookings combines the noodles with little strips of tender stir-fried ribeye, garlicky spinach, meaty mushrooms, and a soy-sesame dressing that coats everything.
For kimchi lovers, there's very little that this spicy Korean cabbage doesn't improve. It does wonders when added to fried rice, acts as a punchy cabbage substitute in dumplings, and takes a humble quesadilla to the next level. And when it comes to jeon, or Korean pancakes, chopped kimchi is an absolute must.