Tuesday, January 10, 2017

More Authentic Kimchi

I've made kimchi before and we did really like it, but I kept on buying the commercial kind at the Asian store because it tasted better.  For reasons this fall that I cannot now remember, I got really determined to make more authentic kimchi. Linda Ly's recipe convinced me that I did really need to buy the Korean pepper, gochugaru (but what I actually got was gochujang, the paste, because that's what my Asian store and the herb shop had). I resist buying specialty ingredients that I only use in one recipe, but this one is totally worth it.

Oh man, this kimchi is good! Pungent, garlicky, gingery, spicy but not too. . . we eat it straight out of the jar.   I wish I could remember to get it out and serve it as a kind of relish or salad at meals. Do you eat kimchi?  With what?

I also wish I could say kimchi kept our household entirely healthy while everyone else fell to the dreaded stomach bug over Christmas, but no, that is not the case.  But I'm not really eating it to stay healthy - it's just intensely more-ish and the kimchi breath is totally worth it.  I think we're on our third batch since November.

Kimchi (modified just slightly from Linda Ly's recipe, linked above)

Place in large bowl:
2 lbs. Napa cabbage, sliced fine
1/4 cup non-iodized salt

Stir and massage well.  Cover with water.  Stir occasionally for 2 hours.  Volume should be reduced by half and cabbage should be limp.

Strain salt-water off cabbage. Rinse and strain again.

Add to cabbage in bowl:
1/2 lb. daikon radish, julienned
1/2 lb. carrots, julienned
6 green onions, cut in 1" pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, minced

In a blender, puree:
1 Asian pear, cored and chunked
1 small yellow onion, chunked
1 cup dechlorinated water
1/2 cup Korean chile powder (gochugaru)
2 Tbsp. fish sauce

Stir puree into vegetables.  Stir well (can use your hands if you wear gloves).  Pack into jars or a crock to ferment, leaving at least 2" headspace.  Weight the vegetables down under the liquid, pressing firmly.  Ly recommends pressing down firmly every day and fermenting for 3-7 days.  I don't always press daily, and I usually ferment a little longer.  Store kimchi in fridge when it's done fermenting.

1. I did use a Bartlett pear once and didn't notice any difference.
2. I halve the water since I'm using the chile paste instead of the powder; well, once I forgot, but I just had more delicious liquid so it seemed fine.
3. Use organic ingredients when possible for fermentation because they are more likely to have happy bacteria on/in them already, which assists fermentation.
4. On my previous kimchi post, I explain the methods of fermentation much more fully (but used cayenne! wouldn't do that now).  But if you're still confused, please ask.  I think fermentation is a strange process until you've done it a few times and know what to expect.
5. Kimchi is not like baking chemistry, so you can probably add or subtract ingredients up and down the line.  We love the flavor of this recipe because it's similar to what I used to buy.


Rozy Lass said...

When we hosted a Korean student he ate kimchi with literally everything we served. My daughter and I like it, but none of the males will eat it. Noble, our daughter, lived in Korea for two years while serving in the Air Force. I visited her and tasted several different kinds of kimchi. My favorite is the radish kimchi which is more like a pickle. There is a big difference between fresh kimchi, like you make and bottled kimchi (canned). The fresh is just so much better.

Tammy said...

I just made kimchi for the first time in over a year! I love it, but I've only had what I make, so I can't speak to its authenticity. I follow the recipe on Chowhound, which is different than your recipe, though it does have similarities. I do not eat shrimp, so I leave that out of the recipe.

I recently had quinoa (you could do rice too) with two over-easy eggs on top, and a nice amount of kimchi on top. Mostly, I just eat it plain because I love it so. Once we ate at a Asian restaurant and the rice had kimchi mixed into it, which was very good.

Becky said...

I eat on plain rice, or on the side. I also have been known to eat it on a peanut butter covered rice cake or toast. I have a friend who's Korean mother makes all kinds of kimchi and sells it at the farmer's market, so I'm learning to eat it in all sorts of ways (kimchi pancakes!). Also, her kimchi is kinda the bomb.

Margo said...

oh my word, Becky, I would love to taste "all kinds" of kimchi! Tell me more about kimchi pancakes - just kimchi bound with some egg and flour and fried??

jenny_o said...

This is something I've never had but it sounds good!

Kari said...

I once made a big jar of kimchi and left it for too long in the fridge. Turned out so strong that the family would not touch it. I managed to save it by draining the liquids and consequently dried the whole batch in a dehydrator. When totally dry I ground it down to a powder. Makes a nice touch to all kinds of Asian foods.

sk said...

Margo, would ordinary cabbage make as good a kimchi?

Margo said...

sk, I really think ordinary cabbage is fine. I used Napa because my farmers grew it and sold it at market! The key flavor difference is that Korean pepper.

sk said...

Margo, I got my answer. It's no.

From Tastes Like War by Grace M. Cho, p. 93:

The moment [in Washington state] when she first received my [U.S.] father's generous gift of American cabbages, indignation spread across [my Korean mother's] face.

"What is this? This isn't real cabbage." Her voice grew panicky. "Oh no . . . oh no! What I'm going to do now?" In the next moment, she directed her rage toward my father. "What I'm supposed to do with this? Huh?" Then, more calmly, she turned the head over and over in her hands, inspecting it with incredulity. "Hwaa . . . What American people can do with this, I have no idea."

The vegetable that Americans knew as cabbage was an inferior specimen and wholly inadequate for making kimchi. Or so I inferred from my mother's rant. Once she recovered from this bitter disappointment, she set out to source the "real" cabbage, which Americans call "napa cabbage." She would drive to Seattle to look for it and did so on a semiregular basis. Sometimes she'd "het the jackpot" and come home with several cases of baechu, having bought out the store's whole supply. On less fortuitous occasions, all she could find was bok choy. It was not the same, but it was still better than nothing. In other words, it was better than American cabbage.

(I think you might love the book.)

Margo said...

What an amazing quote, sk! And now I know about cabbage and kimchi. . .