This post may seem somewhat out of season. I’ve taken a drink that is popular in the summer, but there is a reason for it. I promise. First a little introduction to the drink:
A couple of weeks ago an organization that does amazing work asked me to come up with a cocktail for their annual fundraiser. The organization, Nodutdol, has been working to build a community institution that promotes the self-determination and unity of the Korean people through grassroots organizing and community development. Every year they throw a “Kimchee Bowl” to highlight the year’s work, get people together to enjoy good food, good drinks, and great kimchee and just get friends together to celebrate another year.
Usually the main part of the event is the food. Drinks are just an afterthought that is meant to just be there for convenience. For this year’s Kimchee Bowl (which is today), they asked me to create a drink to serve at the event. The only requirement was that kimchee had to be part of it. I figured this would be a fun challenge and something for me to do during the storm. So, I spent a few days trying to figure out what drink I wanted to make. I played around with syrups, gin, and tequila. Some were excellent and some tasted not so excellent. Some masked the flavor of the fermented vegetables, while others only hinted at the kimchee. And, after a few attempts, I realized that in all the complexity of trying to make an innovative drink, I was forgetting the most important thing about this challenge: Highlight the amazing things about the ingredient. So why not just make a michelada?
For folks who are unfamiliar with a michelada (and I’m about to blow your mind with something amazing if you haven’t): A michelada is a wonderful Mexican invention that is part of a category of drinks called cerveza preparada. Out of the other beers in this category, a michelada is more similar to the bloody mary, usually containing various sauces and ingredients including hot sauce, worchestershire, lime, and salt. The flavor is usually a savory, tart, and refreshing combination that is perfect for any hangover, summer day, or Asian fermented vegetable.
It makes complete sense; the light crisp lager doesn’t over power the flavor of kimchee, but allows a canvas for the subtle (and not so subtle) flavors come out. Plus, if you think about it, the ingredients in kimchee are very similar to the ingredients in worchestershire sauce. Fermented anchovies, soy sauce, salt. Perfect substitution. In addition to that, it’s in the wintertime that kimchee is usually the most ripe and ready to eat and when first brought out to the tables after months of fermentation. So, why not celebrate the end of the pickling process with some beer?
For the event we had to make a video to share for folks who attended the event. As you can tell, it’s much more professionally done compared to my other video posts. A friend of ours edited it for us. So enjoy the fancy graphics and music, which I find very similar to adult movie music from the 80’s…but I kind of like that.
For more information on Nodutdol, please check out their website here.
1 tsp gochugaru (Korean chili powder)
juice of half of a lime
1 tbs kimchee
1/4 oz soy sauce
16 oz. lager or pilsner
blend of gochugaru and salt
rim the outside of a pint glass with lime juice and the salt blend
muddle the rest of the ingredients except for the ice and beer
add ice and beer and stir
garnish with a lime wedge