So as I mentioned previously, my friend Gabe and I decided to do some blog crossover cooking and for our first blogoff we chose to take on Kimchi. Make sure you check out the Evella half of this blogoff as well. Kimchi is a kind of Korean pickle, usually involving cabbage, chili and fermentation... but there are a lot of variations on this theme.
I had never made kimchi before but I'd had such a huge hankering to try, especially after the Tanuki experience (and the fact that I've been on a bit of a pickling roll lately) . I decided to use a combination of a recipe from pyongyang metro and another from Tigers and Strawberries. I actually did this battle royale in two stages; I made a practice kimchi with radish, turnip and mustard greens because I had no cabbage but I'll only cover the real deal this time.
Napa cabbage or wom bok
Firstly I took one large napa cabbage (we'd call in wom bok in Australia, or baechu in Korea). The good ones are heavy but without soggy leaves or thick stems. I stripped off the outer leaves, cut it into quarters and washed the leaves very thoroughly. Kimchi involves fermentation and I was planning to ferment mine for at least 2 days unrefrigerated, so the most important thing was to make sure everything was clean. I had already cleaned down the kitchen like the good little microbiology major that I am. Once the cabbage was washed I cut it down into strips, about an inch across.
Next step was the salting of the cabbage leaves. Again this kills off all the bad bacteria but hopefully leaving only the useful lactic acid producing bacillus. I used a big ziplock bag, took a handful of salt and and couple of handfuls of cabbage and mixed them well, kind of rubbing the salt into the leaves with a bit of a kneading motion. Repeat with the rest. Then I removed the air from the bag and left it to brine for about three to four hours, mixing it every hour or so. Then it was into the strainer for many many rinses to remove as much of the surface salt as possible. The cabbage was delicious at this point! Soft but still a little crunchy and saltily delicious. Bad Jac no snacking on the job!
Brined and rinsed cabbage
While the cabbage was rinsing I put together the rest of the ingredients. I decided to use a bunch of radishes, a bunch of spring onions, a few cloves of garlic, a thumb sized piece of ginger, about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1/4 cup of sugar and the most important ingredient, Korean chili powder! This stuff is a lovely bright red but not too spicy so I threw in about half a cup, maybe more. I found it at our local Asian grocer.
The kimchi ingredients
I simply ran the garlic, ginger and soy sauce through the food processor. Then thinly sliced the spring onions and radishes.
Spring onion and gorgeous fresh radishes
Then threw all the vegetables into a mixing bowl...
This pic was too pretty not to include it
Then I added the garlic mush-mush, the sugar and the chili powder and mixed the whole thing up with my hands. And of course I wore gloves!!
I mixed this for quite a while to make sure it was well distributed
At this point I decided to throw in the secret ingredient...a little extra heat. My practice run with the first batch taught me one thing and that was needs more heat! The Korean chili powder tastes good but it just doesn't have the fire that I like. So I threw in a couple of heaping spoons of good old sambal oelek.
For when you really like it hot
From there I pressed the kimchi mix down into a very clean tupperware container, getting rid of most of the air bubbles, put the lid on and let it sit on the kitchen bench for 2 and a bit days. I considered it done when I could see bubbles forming and rising to the surface.
Pre-fermented kimchi looks a lot like fermented kimchi
Finished product is fabulous! Much better than my practice round and I definitely like it more with cabbage. It doesn't smell too funky, lots of garlic in front but the rest is all kimchi, and the heat is really satisfying, especially with cooling radish and cabbage in there.
So what do you do with kimchi? Well really it is a side dish or ingredient for soups, stirfries etc. To celebrate this batch I decided to make Tanuki inspired kimchi chahan (fried rice). No great detail for the recipe here but the ingredients included lap chong (chinese sweet sausage), fresh and dried shitake, bamboo, spring onion, garlic, asparagus, pea shoots and egg. I used a soy/sweet sherry seasoning on the rice.
I make the scrambled egg separately and run it through the rice at the end, but to give it some more grunt I mix a few dashes of chili sesame oil through the egg.
I use a short grain rice and mix it through, along with the soy seasoning, just after the last greens have gone in.
Wok on baby
Finished product is the fried rice. topped with kimchi and spring onion. Mix the whole thing up just before eating and hey presto, you're enjoying kimchi! Make sure you check out Evella's half of the blogoff as well!
This intermittent blog follows the random adventures of my family and me. We are a two mum family with our awesome three year old Marty Roo (formerly baby Tuesday) and our newest addition, Kenzie the Kelpie.
I love cooking and far too much of this blog is about food, traveling and eating. For me, cooking for people is how I tell them I love them.
I am a statistical geneticist, geek, gamer, inherently lazy, cheese addict and whisky drinker.
Right now we're working on settling back in to Tassie, holding on to memories and friends in Texas and getting into the rhythm of life. It is a fun ride and y'all are welcome to join us!