Henry says Kimchi is 2021’s answer to banana bread

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Written byHenry Mackley

Do you remember the banana bread thing in Lockdown One? Seriously, banana bread! No-one really likes banana bread, but everyone was doing it. Not me though. I didn’t make banana bread once. When my grandchildren ask me in years to come, “Grandpa, what did you do in the Great Pandemic?” I’ll tell them that I didn’t make banana-bloody-bread, and their little jaws will drop.

I’ll wistfully recount to them that in the First Great Lockdown of 2020 I was getting paid not to work, pouring pinot blush on my cornflakes and cutting my own hair. I certainly wasn’t wasting time making gacky cakes with rotten fruit.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a banana. One a day, for breakfast, regular as clockwork, but I like them raw and medium rare. That is to say, just the yellow side of green. The moment any black bits appear, they go straight on my compost heap.

My compost heap during Lockdown One was my happy place. While my kids were home-schooling themselves on the Wii, I would be in my heap, getting it ready for its summer deployment onto my veg patch.

In Lockdown Three my compost heap is dormant and cold. I don’t have an excuse to play outside on my own anymore so when the kids have finished home-schooling themselves on the internet, we do some cooking.

We’re a bit more confined in January. When the weather is bad, daily exercise is more of a chore than a pleasure. My walks with the girls revolve around trips to the butchers, bakers and greengrocers. I’m not a big user of supermarkets anyway. Not out of virtue – nothing against supermarkets – I’m just fortunate I have a bunch of really good food shops within striking distance of my home.

My partner got my girls a doughnut-making machine for Christmas. When we’ve done that to death (almost literally), we have a go at oriental bao-ish buns instead. Filled with slow-cooked pork and veg it seems like a healthier option, but right now the healthy option can buzz off. Whatever gets us through, right?

I’m making kimchi today though, which happens to be pretty good for you. Only because I saw a daikon radish in Farmer’s shop, and because at the moment, I spend hours on Instagram looking at smug millennials fermenting stuff and felt like I was missing out. They also had Chinese leaf, which is a sort of cabbage-y / lettuce-y hybrid, in Farmer’s which you need for kimchi — a Korean version of sauerkraut. And, apart from doing my tax return and getting the car MOTed, I had nothing better to do.

I like it but it’s definitely not for everyone. There are dried shrimps involved (I couldn’t get any so I used Thai fish sauce instead). Essentially, you’re dealing with a jar of fishy cabbage. But with time it mellows and turns into something that excites the mouth, soothes the tummy and, ultimately, tastes delicious. Way better than banana bread. Trust me.

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