I like to cook. Sometimes my daughter likes to eat.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kimchi Fest

For some reason I got a bee in my bonnet to make kimchi this year. Not satisfied with one type, I made three in the course of one week, then took off on vacation while it "cooked" and came back craving a Korean grill-fest.

The first type was scallion kimchi. I saw a recipe for ramp kimchee, but at $25/lb., there was very little chance that I'd buy enough to yield a pound of greens. But scallions? Dirt cheap at the farmer's market, so I decided to give it a go.

Here's the recipe, not terribly traditional with the Aleppo pepper, but...

Once that was on the counter fermenting, I started thinking about the daikon and Napa cabbage we weren't going to get to before we left. I had ideas of making a Vietnamese bun bowl for dinner, but then w got a rain storm in June and that seemed less exciting.

I searched for recipes. David Lebovitz had one that looked tempting, till I noticed that more traditional recipes never call for rice vinegar. This one looks fabulous, a Steamy Kitchen guest post from Kimchi Mom complete with video, but with a grant due and a vacation to pack for, this was clearly more aspirational than realistic. I settled on the sauce and daikon prep from the Wandering Chopsticks recipe, with some Kimchi Mom influences.

1 large napa cabbage
about 1/4 cup kosher salt
1 T red pepper flakes, medium coarseness
2 T gochujang (Korean chili paste)
4 tablespoons fish sauce
3 t sugar
4 green onion stalks, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 T minced ginger (~1" piece, peeled)
1 T minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 8" piece daikon

Cut the daikon into 2" sections, reserve one piece and cut the remainder into 1" dice and place in a clean nonreactive bowl. Add 1-2 T salt and toss till well coated. Weight the top (I used a bowl with a can of beans in it) and allow to sit 3 hours.

Slice the remaining piece thinly lengthwise and add to the julienned carrot.

Cut the cabbage into four wedges, remove core and any discolored leaves, and cut into 2" pieces. Layer in a clean nonreactive bowl with a liberal dose of salt between each layer. Weight the top (I used a bowl with a can of beans in it) and allow to sit 3 hours

Just before the three hours is up, combine the sauce ingredients -- the pepper flakes through the minced garlic -- to make a sauce. Clean two jars that seal well and have a nonreactive top. I used an old caper jar for the daikon and a qt. jar for the cabbage.

Rinse the daikon well, squeeze out the excess water and return to the bowl. Add 1/4 of the sauce and stir well to coat. Add to jar but do not seal yet.

Rinse the cabbage in two changes of water, squeeze and add to the remainder of the sauce. Add the reserved daikon slices and julienned carrot. Stir and toss until coated thoroughly.

Do not clean the sauce bowl. Instead, add 1 cup water and 1 t salt. Stir to dissolve and pour over daikon until it's just covered. Pour remainder over cabbage, pressing cabbage down into jar.

Don't fill either jar more than 75% full, as the mixture will bubble and needs some air.

Seal both jars and set out on the counter out of direct sunlight for 24-48 hours to allow the kimchi to ferment, then put it in the fridge.

According to Kimchi Mom: After the first 24 or so excruciating hours, sample the kimchi. There should be a slight tang. At this point it is ready to be refrigerated. You can eat the kimchi right away, but I prefer to wait at least a week to indulge. The kimchi will continue to ferment at a much slower pace in the refrigerator and will keep for about 4 weeks. The kimchi will turn really sour at this point and if you have any left in the jar, it will be perfect for jigae, fried rice, ramen or jun.

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