Chi Kitchen Launches Two New Fermented Products
We got the dish on the new sesame slaw and kimchi pickles.
Pawtucket-based Chi Kitchen has created two new jarred products this season that just might help boost immunity. Best known for handcrafted fermented kimchi (available in original and vegan versions), the local food producer now offers sesame slaw and kimchi pickles.
Chi Kitchen was founded by self-proclaimed CHI-EO Minnie Luong, who runs the business with her husband, Tim Greenwald. Her family originally came to New England as refugees and she was raised on food grown in a garden and kimchi made by her father. She hopes to share these healthy Asian foods in more local retail markets and ship them nationwide from their newly revamped website.
“The products are all loaded with billions of probiotics in each serving. They also contain ginger, garlic and onions, which are all really good immune-boosting ingredients, plus they are low in sugar and fat, and high in fiber,” says Luong. She adds that in South Korea, a country with a high life expectancy, people typically consume about forty pounds — about two tablespoons a day — of kimchi annually. “Probiotics help support your gut health and some experts say your immune system is based on your gut health,” she says.
Kimchi translates to the words “salted vegetable.” The salt helps to inhibit the bad bacteria that you don’t want, which helps the good bacteria — the Lactobacillus already present on the vegetables — to grow. “Fermentation is basically a competition between those two bacteria: the ones you don’t want and the ones that you do want,” Luong says.
In five years, Chi Kitchen has gone from hawking single jars at local farmers markets to selling in 100 stores around New England. In 2019, the company moved into a larger, 2,000-square-foot production space in Pawtucket’s Lorraine Mills on Mineral Spring Avenue. The couple rents their previous kitchen space to Ming’s Asian Street Food, which serves Asian fusion from a food truck and incorporates Chi Kitchen kimchi into a fried chicken sandwich.
Minnie Luong graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in 2018, and the education helped her scale up their business, enabling her husband to join full-time in July of 2019. They had a new large mixing table fabricated by a designer at the Steel Yard in Providence to make it easier to mix fifty-five-gallon batches at a time, which are then stored for fermentation in plastic drums. It only takes about forty-eight hours for the fermentation to set up, then they move the product to cold storage before packing it in jars for retail sales. The jarred products can last for many months when stored in the refrigerator.
Luong and Greenwald say they’re excited to add the sesame slaw and kimchi pickles to their brand. They recommend saving the brine from the kimchi pickles and mixing it with olive oil for a spicy salad dressing or marinade or using it as a cocktail mixer. The sesame slaw can also be added to burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches or as a side for fish and chips. “The new products embody our brand in terms of being crazy delicious Asian flavors and they are all really good for you,” Luong says. “These are the future of Chi Kitchen.” chikitchen.com
● Eat two tablespoons of kimchi first thing in the morning with breakfast eggs to aid in digestion.
● Top a sandwich, burger, hot dog or pulled pork tacos with kimchi or sesame slaw to add an Asian twist to any meal.
● Add the products to a rice or noodle bowl or top avocado toast with a touch of kimchi.