Kimchi is a fermented vegetable often made with Napa cabbage. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com
Kimchi is a fermented vegetable often made with Napa cabbage. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

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You’ll have the chance to try Korean staples japchae and kimchi at Saturday festival

September 20, 2017 11:00 AM

UPDATED September 22, 2017 02:32 PM

Here’s your chance to taste kimchi.

And try Korean tea.

And see a Korean performing-arts group called Kkocdooseh.

Tacoma’s Korean ChuSeok Festival will be held 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center.

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It’s a Korean harvest festival celebrated worldwide to welcome autumn.

Patsy Surh O'Connell, president and founder of the cultural center, said the event will include family friendly activities, such as moon dancing, lotus flower making, paper folding and testing of Korean musical instruments.

O’Connell plans to introduce newcomers to Korean foods, including kimbap, japchae and packaged Korean instant noodles.

She’ll also offer different versions of the fermented dish, kimchi.

Food available for sampling will come from Lakewood’s Boo Han grocery market.

At Boo Han, kimchi comes in about 30 choices, said Jae Han, whose father founded the market which bears his name on South Tacoma Way about 40 years ago.

Workers there make the house kimchi about three times a week. Boo Han also sells kimchi from three other companies.

For newcomers, kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable. It typically is made with Napa cabbage but can also be made with mustard greens, radish and other vegetables.

It’s a staple at Korean restaurants along South Tacoma Way with most every restaurant making its own version. Other Lakewood Korean grocery stores, include Paldo World, H-Mart and Asian Market, also offer house-made kimchi.

Kimchi’s preserving technique is similar to making sauerkraut, but the flavoring is deeper and more complicated, with the fermented vegetable usually fortified with fish sauce, chile-pepper seasoning, garlic and sometimes ginger. It can be modestly spicy or hot-and-fiery, depending on the maker or time of year. It comes in sizes ranging from small jars to one-gallon containers.

Jae Han said the kimchi made at his family’s market comes with a tame level of spice while the version he imports directly from South Korea is spicier.

He also sells kimchi from local company Woori Kimchi, as well as from a Los Angeles-based kimchi company.

In addition to Napa cabbage kimchi, the Boo Han market sells kimchi made with radish and mustard greens. There’s also one version, called white kimchi, made without the chile peppers.

Now is a great time to taste the “heavier” styles of kimchi, Jae Han said. Kimchi made with Napa cabbage offers more concentrated flavors.

Spring brings versions of kimchi that come with a higher water content than the kimchi from winter.

“Spring and summer, that’s when vegetables come out and the watery ones become more and more popular,” he said.

Saturday’s festival will feature a few other popular dishes made at Boo Han, including japchae.

That Korean noodle dish is flavored with sesame oil, beef broth, salt and pepper and served with chopped green onions, bell peppers and spinach. It’s usually made in the morning and every afternoon at the grocery store and packaged in containers for take-out.

Kimbap is a ready-made takeout roll that looks like a sushi roll. At Boo Han, it’s made with a nori wrapper, with rice rolled up inside, plus vegetables and rib-eye that’s flavored bulgogi style.

Find Boo Han Market at 9122 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma; 253-588-7300; boohan.com.

Korean ChuSeok Festival

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 23).

Where: Asia Pacific Cultural Center, 4851 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma; 253-383-3900; asiapacificculturalcenter.org.