Danny Bowien's Best Kimchi Tips - Exclusive

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Danny Bowien is not afraid to admit he's got a thing for kimchi. "This is probably going to be the most chef-y-sounding thing I'm going to say, it really does captivate me," the former Mission Chinese owner told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview.

This may not come as a shock if Bowien's crush on kimchi has been on your radar for a while, especially if you've already stocked your kitchen with a copy of his new cookbook. In New York City, the era of Mission Chinese has come to an end. The best of Bowien's food, however, is still to be found in the pages of "Mission Vegan," a magnum opus that includes no less than 12 kimchi recipes. Perhaps there are so many because to master a single kimchi recipe perfectly is almost certainly as elusive as finally finding the fountain of youth. So why not, then, attempt to master 10? "It feels like an impossibility to always replicate and make [kimchi] exactly the same," Bowien explained. "And I've actually embraced that." 

There's beauty in the chaos of kimchi making, Bowien says. If you're looking for your next challenge after closing the book on a brief, pandemic-inspired obsession with sourdough, kimchi is probably in your wheelhouse. "There's a point where you will get to, where you'll almost be getting [kimchi] the same every time, right? But it's kind of like bread baking," Bowien reflected. "I look at kimchi and bread baking as kind of the same because it really depends on the climate temperature, quality of the ingredients, what time of the year you're getting the ingredients." 

Bowien says don't overcomplicate kimchi

In an exclusive interview, Danny Bowien shared his top two takeaways from kimchi making. First, the process is not Einstein-level impenetrable, so you can stop worrying about which vegetables you should or shouldn't use. Don't sweat over what you do or don't need to achieve Michelin-magnificence — kick up your feet and relax a little. "It's a fun journey to take," Bowien affirmed to Tasting Table. "It's a very humbling experience making kimchi, I think. But it's also something that I think that people tend to overthink and overcomplicate. At the end of the day, it's vegetables or whatever you're fermenting and salt, right?" Right.

Second, kimchi isn't just a delicious, fermented dish, it's also a life lesson. "It's such a really fun thing because it also forces you to slow down. ... There isn't this instant gratification," Bowien elucidated. "There can be. You can eat kimchi right away, right after you make it. I think that the instant ramen kimchi [you] could eat instantly, like in the book. But there's something about being able to taste it throughout its progress and then finding out what works best for you, or what you like the most, at its most pleasant stage."

Because we know you have "Mission Vegan" open on your kitchen counter, Bowien says most of the kimchi recipes in his book are best enjoyed at the "three or four-day mark." If you don't have "Mission Vegan," you can order it here.