Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Madeleine # 1: Kim Chee UN Style

Hot, humid weather. Tropical rainstorms at 8 pm on the dot every evening. Burning feeling on the tongue. Breath to kill a rhino from 100 m. Cleared sinuses. Sunshine. Surprise treat... Yep, it's definitely my mum's infamous Kim Chee UN Style!

Now, don't think for a moment that I'm eating fermented Korean cabbage. I'm not disparaging it, I just haven't tried it - yet. And I doubt any Koreans (North or South of the 38th parallel) would call this stuff Kim Chee. That much they could probably agree on. The real one is prepared in a variety of ways, one of which is

But I'm digressing. The challenge of this first Madeleine is that - although I cook alot - I have actually never prepared KCUNS. It looks easy enough when my mum prepares it (as does most cooking), but would it be as easy to replicate? There's not even any heating involved, so I'm not sure it can actually be called cooking.

Logically enough, I start by a phone call to the Recipe-Owner, to know what I need to buy on my way home from the office. Tonight is KCUNS night!

Then, standing in front of my beloved Magimix food processor, I stack all the ingredients, in the quantities I think they should be in. Phone / Reality check to mum. Nope, MUCH less of that and HEAPS more of that. And that one, just at the end, to taste. And the last one you can leave out. Sometimes. That's about as precise as it gets. So, let's get started:

2 medium carrots, peeled
equivalent weight of raw white cabbage (or other
crunchy, non-coloured cabbage)
1 medium green pepper, deseeded
from 1/2 lemon
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 anchovy filets (tinned)
1,5 tbsp tomato puree
harissa or other chilli paste
dark soy sauce (to taste)
mild oil (sunflower or peanut)
Bread, thinly sliced, toasted

Put all the ingredients down to (but not including) soy sauce in a food
processor and WHIIIZZZZ! You can't whizz it too much, so take a few more
WHIZZZES for the road.

Taste. It needs to be so hot you think it's too hot, but it actually isn't (bearing in mind you'll have to eat in just like that, on bread). If it's not there yet, add some more chilli. Then pour in some soy sauce while it's whizzing. You are aiming for the consistency of tapenade (olive dip), so if it's too coarse, add some oil.

At this point, taste again. Which I did. And it was lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. Re-dial mum. Try to describe the taste by phone. Hear my dad in the background saying to leave the ingredients to settle for a while. This from a man who hardly knows where the kitchen is! But, as with Caesar, I must credit him with the final touch.

When I spread it onto the toasted bread 15 minutes later, it's all coming back to me. After-school treats (I have never liked sweet things, not even as a kid), then summer holidays as an adult, at my parents' home in Auvergne. Seeing my mum appearing with a tray, a stack of toasts, some knifes and cold white wine or beer. And a cheeky grin.

Back to the recipe. Pour into a nice bowl, and serve with the toasted bread. To
people you know REALLY well. Who have no dinner plans for the next week or so. Or need to be around other people. In the foreseable future.

I know you can keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge, but I don't know how long. We've never managed to have it around for more than 2 days, tempting us every time we open the fridge.
At this point, I know you are scrolling down to see if I ever explain where this malodorous things comes from, and why I call it like that. Gotcha!

Between the ages of 10 and 12, I lived with my parents in
Burundi. My dad worked for the UN (see, we're getting there!). We were fortunate enough to be there during one of this beautiful country's peaceful periods. There had been ethnic genocide in the past, and there would be again soon. So this particular childhood memory does not lead to international politics. I can't promise that it will always be so. But that, as they say, is another blog entirely.

One of our neighbours was an Egyptian lady, Samira, whose husband also worked for the UN. This is as far back as we can go, recipe-wise. We don't know where she got it from. But she passed it on to my Danish-French mum and her best friend, the American ambassador's wife, who was Vietnamese. My mum's memories of KCUNS is of eating it with her friend Tuy Camh, after playing tennis. As if being physically active in 40C and 80% humidity was not enough to make you sweatty and hot, they had to add chilli and garlic!
Together, I suspect they made a version of their own, which is the one passed on to yours truly.

I can't guarantee tropical showers and exotic memories, but I would still suggest that you give KCUNS a try anyway. Bon apétit!

Rhôôô la la tu me fais bosser mon englishe toi !
Mais quand même, c'est rudement bien écrit !
Quel coup de plume madame !!!
Loreal > Merci pour les compliments et merci de me laisser des commentaires. J'adore ça!
Thanks for sharing this culinary experience... I felt as if I were doing it myself. KCUS it is, this weekend!
Vero -> I hope T. eats some too, otherwise it might be some time before u get any kisses...
Not sure where to post this but I wanted to ask if anyone has heard of National Clicks?

Can someone help me find it?

Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn't have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.

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