By Tory L. Davis
Koreatown’s Galleria Market is a true local gem that boasts an astonishing array of kimchi and other fermented delicacies.
The cavernous market features what appears to be a never-ending salad bar. Upon closer inspection, a fermented fantasy is revealed: more kinds of kimchi than I knew existed, a vast array of fermented fish and shellfish (or jeotgal), and copious selections of crisp, pickled vegetables. Signs are in both Korean and English, and when I had questions, I found the staff and other customers were happy to help me out.
Why Eat Fermented Foods?
The fermentation process creates lactobacilli, the same healthy bacteria (or microflora) found in yogurt, only dairy-free; this probiotic supports the immune system, promotes a healthy digestive tract and helps fight yeast infections.
In addition, fermentation boosts the availability of food’s existing vitamins, minerals and nutrients, and recent studies have shown certain compounds in fermented cabbage can help fight cancer.
Korean fermenting traditionally uses cheonillyeom, a sun-dried sea salt full of calcium, magnesium, iron and minerals that’s believed to help eliminate toxic elements during the process. Most Korean fermented dishes also include health boosters like doenjang, a fermented bean paste similar to miso, as well as garlic, ginger and varying amounts of chili peppers. And kimchi is packed with vitamin A, thiamine B1, riboflavin B2, calcium, and iron, and comes in a wide array of flavors and spice levels.
One word of caution: many fermented foods are high in sodium, so eat them in moderation.
There’s a Korean saying that loosely translates as: “Happy is the man who, laying prone, can caress his full stomach.” After my inaugural trip to Galleria Market, I was indeed a happy (wo)man.
3250 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Images by writer Tory L. Davis.