Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kimchi (김치)

The way I am, I like to follow a recipe, especially when it comes to baking since there's more science involved there. I was never good with science experiments anyway. The way my mom cooks, there is no recipe. She does everything by taste based on her years and years of experience. I can't ever recreate what my mom makes on my own, so I ask her for the recipes. Since she has been baking more recently, she gives me ingredient measurements in teaspoons and tablespoons which helps me out a lot.

Anytime I make a Korean dish successfully, it feels so satisfying. Well, I feel that way with any recipe honestly, but I think Korean dishes are more difficult for me to recreate the right combination of seasonings and spices. That's why I get picky when it comes to Korean food because there are some great restaurants and there are some terrible restaurants. I grew up with the best, but I guess every child thinks that of his/her mom. Every mom has her own way of cooking, even Kimchi (김치). Kimchi is THE dish of Korea and is rated one of the world's healthiest foods. Traditionally, it is spicy fermented cabbage but it can also be made from cucumbers, green onions, radishes, etc, and it doesn't have to be spicy.


I made a batch out of just one cabbage and it lasted me a while! I didn't eat it every day, but I did try to finish it quickly before it became too sour. I made fried rice with it and it was delicious. I put it in some tofu stew and it was delicious. I also made savory pancakes with it and it was indeed delicious. You could eat just plain too and it will be delicious. There are so many ways to eat Kimchi and I wouldn't get sick of it.

One of the most important ingredients in kimchi is Saewoojut, salted fermented shrimp. I mentioned this ingredient in the recipe for Steamed Egg. It really makes a difference in the taste of your kimchi, so go to your local Asian market and try to look for it!

Kimchi (김치)

1 Napa cabbage
1/2 cup Korean red pepper flakes
3 T water
2 tbsp Saewoojut
3 cloves garlic
1/2 - 1 tsp minced ginger
3 green onions, cut into 1/2-inch slices

Cut cabbage in half lengthwise. Chop off the root end. Peel off leaves one by one and cut bigger leaves in half lengthwise again. Then cut leaves into 2 inch slices. Rinse and drain the cabbage. In a colander, put on single layer of cabbage and sprinkle generously with salt. Put on another layer and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining cabbage slices. Let drain for 1 1/2 hours. Flip so that most of the top layers are on the bottom. Drain again for 1 1/2 hours or so.

After draining for a few hours, wash off the salt and drain again. Let the cabbage dry for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix red pepper flakes with the water to make a paste. Add cabbage slices and mix with a hand - the best tool. Make sure all of the cabbage gets covered with the red pepper paste. Add in saewoojut, garlic, giner, and green onions and mix again with a hand. Taste a slice and adjust seasoning.

Transfer to either a stainless steel or glass container. Kimchi will stain your plastics. Leave out at room temperature for 2 days. After a couple days, place in your refrigerator and enjoy! Kimchi is best served cold, or stir-fried in sesame oil for 15 minutes. Or as pancakes. Or in stews. Mouthwatering!

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