It's week four of the Circuit Breaker. We're guessing many Singaporeans have succumbed to binge-watching Korean dramas in their pyjamas and uncut hair. 'Cos, what else is there to do after you WFH or undergo HBL? Also, fact: K-dramas consistently feature on Netflix Singapore's Top 10 most-watched list of shows daily. If you've seen even just one or two K-rom-coms, you'll know that the wispy heroine always has the appetite of Kim Jong-un's horse. She'll inevitably feast like a fiend on mouth-watering spreads whipped up by a tall, dreamy, wealthy oppa with the rockin' bod who just happens to also cook like David Chang. The food — ranging from no-frills instant noodles and kimchi (a popular hook-up snack) to splashy hanwoo beef barbecues — is a constant supporting actor in these shows. Which stands to reason that kimchi must be the pandemic pantry staple veg of choice here in Singapore. How do we know this? Simply because for the past month or so, kimchi is almost always sold out whenever we try to buy it online from Redmart, NTUC FairPrice and Cold Storage. Even gochujang (spicy bean paste, a staple in Korean cooking) is often out of stock — that’s why we’ve omitted the latter in our recipes here to simplify matters.
Tip: try Korean specialty shops like Lee Mart, Harin Mart or Koryo Mart if you can’t get kimchi from the usual supermarkets — we’ve had better luck there. Mrs Lee, owner of the Lee Mart chain tells us that kimchi sales has increased by about 30 percent since Covid-19 surfaced. She comments on the somewhat erratic supply in Singapore these days: “While I don't have a definite answer, I believe it’s a mixture of the fact that more people are cooking at home now and that there are less imports from Korea to Singapore because of some shortages in Korea's domestic market due to the pandemic”. But fret not, she adds: "We've been selling kimchi and Korean side dishes for over 10 years in Singapore, so we always have enough stocks even when there's a delay in shipping. As for gochujang — we're also facing shortages, but we were lucky to secure some new stocks to sell from next week onwards". Here's another pro tip: order kimchi from a Korean restaurant in Singapore that makes it fresh, lots of them offer delivery now. Or try made-in-Singapore vegetarian kimchi from online store Jin Kimchi (traditional kimchi often contains Korean fish sauce and fermented shrimp).
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