Hershey’s Market on Chocolate is cultivating an international flair this season with bi-weekly presence of Kimchee Girl, a tasty business developed by Joyce Park Williams in Mechanicsburg.
Kimchee is a traditional Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, such as Napa cabbage and Korean radish. Kimchee is made with a widely varying selection of seasonings, including gochugaru (Korean chili powder), spring onions, garlic and ginger. It is also used in a variety of soups.
Kimchee Girl makes and sells a trinity of kimchee – Napa cabbage kimchee, Cucumber kimchee and Korean radish kimchee.
What do you do with it? At her brilliant pink market stall, complete with griddle and grill, she and her staff fill the morning air with savory, mouth-watering aroma of LA Style beef short-ribs, Korean barbecue, sticky rice and even Kimchee hot dogs.
“One of my favorite ways to eat kimchee, besides right out of the jar, is to put it on a hamburger. The kimchee just adds that little extra spicy kick to the burger. It is good with eggs and chicken,” she said. “Plus you get all the healthy benefits of the kimchee, like all natural probiotics for good gut health, vitamins A, B, and C, plus antioxidants,”
Williams, whose family emigrated from Korea in the early ‘70s, is the youngest of five children and the only one born in America.
She said her family would grow cabbage and other produce for her mother to make kimchee.
“All the Korean ladies would come for my mom’s kimchee,” she said. “When she died, mother’s obituary said she made the best kimchee.
“After her death, I missed my mom so that I wanted to learn how to make her kimchee.”
In time she was able to replicate the recipe.
“I made it for myself because I missed her and missed it. I would give it away to friends. It all kind of snowballed. This just happened.
She says what she has is a “myth buster” — not super spicy and too hot to handle as some kimchee is reputed to be.
“There are hundreds of varieties of kimchee made with different vegetables as the main ingredients,” she said. “My medium spicy cabbage kimchee is handmade using my parents’ recipe that they brought with them from South Korea. I use the freshest Napa cabbage prepared with my mom and dad’s secret mixture of hot pepper flake, garlic, green onion, just the right amount of salt and ginger, and a pinch of sugar to help the fermentation process.
“What I am selling is pure vegetable, medium spicy with a great mouth feel and fresh taste. My kimchee is totally vegan; I do not use fish sauce or tiny shrimp… did I mention it’s awesome?”
Traditionally, kimchee was stored underground in large earthenware crocks to prevent it from freezing during the winter months. In the summer, the in-ground storage kept the kimchee cool enough to slow down the fermentation process.
“It will last in the refrigerator for about a year,” she said, “but it will continue to ferment, getting more sour, like sauerkraut.”
Kimchee Girl will be at Market on Chocolate from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 3, 17, 31, Aug. 14 and 28.
Williams says while presently Market on Chocolate is their only market presence, they provide catering and do pop-ups and special events. For more information visit kimcheegirl.com, their Facebook page or call 717-500-1663.