Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Last Night's Discovery: The Local Kimchi Man

After a failed attempt at creating sauerkraut, and my research on probiotics was leading me to believe that all "probiotic" labelled yoghurt is a trick to make us drink low fat sugar laced yoghurt containing man made bacteria strains that die as soon as they hit the acid in the stomach,  I was at a loss last night for a way to get my gut bacteria up to speed. Then I went out to check if they had any raw dairy type products in the overpriced organic supermarket that I live opposite and they had closed early as usual. It was a long shot anyway, whenever I go in that place I realise why I never go in there; it's a white elephant of expensive brown rice, pointlessly low concentrated servings of supplements I don't need, and silly macrobiotic diet stuff. I've only ever bought a can of coconut milk in there, and now I buy coconut cream for a quarter of their price online. So I went back across the road to grab a few baked sweet potatoes off the cart outside maruetsu and took a detour to see what actually goes on at the weird ginseng shop.

The Weird Ginseng Shop

Nobody is ever in there, it seems to sell only ginseng, how is this guy making any money?
Those are the thoughts that have always gone through my mind when walking past the weird ginseng shop on the way to the station. Beef stew was on a low heat upstairs so I had hours of time to kill before dinner - let's check out the produce that the weird ginseng man is peddling I thought to myself.

Got through the shop's broken door and was SHOCKED. The bottles containing ginseng in the window are only put there to keep people away! The inside of the shop is full of fridges at different temperatures containing cylinders full of rotting vegetables. Ginseng man was watching telly in the back room and came in to say hello. I know that all the "kimuchi" that the japanese supermarkets carry is just spicy cabbage so I asked the weird ginseng man if his wares were "発酵" (fermented) or what. I said "mate, is all this stuff hakkou or what like?" and he said "whay aye man, it's totally kosher. I've got fermented garlic, fermented, daikon, fermented squid, fermented potato, you name it lad, I've fermented it." I looked around and he's got some hot pot liquid in bags on the top shelf there, a tall fridge with fermented wares in circular plastic tubs already to go in case there's a rush (which there never is), the chest fridges full of stuff on the go, and a central display of different types of dried korean seaweed. Putting two an two together I reckon he might be one of those "hangul" fellas, but his face wasn't flat and box shaped, it looked more contoured like a japanese bloke.
He spoke the Emporer's pretty well, so the jury is still out on him. We had a bit chat about his affliction, I mean, who could be so obsessed with fermentation that they open up a whole shop dedicated to rotting vegetables? The guy is obviously addicted to rotten stuff. Then he talked me through the levels of spicyness of his rotten veg. The level starts with the 'only slightly hakkou' cucumbers, all the way up to the inedible 'tougarashi' kimchi. I darted for a regular container of kimchi in his tall fridge and he stopped me in my tracks. "Nah nah mate, I'll do you a fresh bowl straight from the cylinder" he gans. "That'll be a fiver". Not bad I thought so I handed over 5 sheets and he started off back to watch the telly. I couldn't believe the lack of sales ability in the ginseng man. Gullible foreigner comes in off the street, obviously fascinated by the wares being peddled, asking questions, picking up everything and that, he could have taken me to the cleaners. "Hang on mister ginseng sir, can I have some more" I piped up. And I took him for a couple of kimchi stuffed cucumbers at 100 yen a pop an all. Thought I'd start off down on the low end of the spice spectrum, with two of his least spicy offerings. With that I was out of the shop, and gave a sigh of relief that I had found a local probiotic dealer who will be able to grace my table every dinner time with all different kinds of bacteria from a plethora of different rotten vegetables.

Are these yoghurts the japanese
equivalent of the crap Activa and
Danone peddle in England? Or do they
have some kind of use? 
Now, rather than being fooled into throwing money straight down the drain by buying dairy products from Danone and Activa that have been stripped of healthy natural bacteria during the pasteurisation process, then are infused with laboratory created strains of bacteria that die on stomach acid contact, I will safely be able to transport good probiotic bacteria through my duodenum into my small and large intestine via the delicious vehicle of authentic, natural korean kimchi.

This one is so sweet, more like cramola
foam than yoghurt.

Thank you weird ginseng man, I will see you again tonight.


PoiPoiAloha said...

If we ever have a CCF BBQ, I guess you're bringing rotting veggies? :)

kie said...

yes! last time I brought fresh meat and veggies, but that's boring! Rotting stuff is much better! hahaha!