Sunday, March 22, 2009

kim chi

For the last several years I've been making my own kimchi. Tastes nothing like what I've had in restaurants or purchased in stores. Fresh, clean, with the bite of ginger and garlic, delicious. Pretty easy, too. I added some turnip greens and jalepanos to the last batch.

kim chi recipe:

1 napa cabbage
daikon radish w/ greens if possible - chopped.
carrots - chopped, sliced into matchsticks, whatever you want.
scallions - one bunch, chopped.
garlic - as much as you want, but at least half a head
ginger - about the size of a walnut
fish sauce - a couple of tablespoons
korean red pepper flakes - several handfulls. try a small amount at first and taste.
sesame seeds - a handfull
a little sugar to feed it

(you could also add broccoli,turnip greens,lemons, apples... no potatoes or green beans)

first you need to salt the cabbage. i use a big plastic bowl. a glass or ceramic bowl would work just fine, but i would avoid metal.

remove several of the large outer leaves of cabbage and spinkle some salt over them. use sea salt or kosher salt. salt with iodine inhibits bacteria growth.

next cut the cabbage into quarters lengthwise and salt between the leaves. cover bowl and let sit for several hours or overnight. the cabbage should be limp.

rinse cabbage and cut into strips (leaving the large outer leaves to place on top), mix with the chopped vegetables, garlic and ginger, salt (you can be generous), pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. you want to make sure that everything gets well coated. the amount of pepper is really up to you. you can taste it as you go and see what you think. add some fish sauce and little sugar to get things started.

once everything is mixed place kim chi into a jar. i use glass jars with the metal fasteners and gaskets. you can also use a jar with a screw on lid. pack the kim chi in tightly. use a wooden dowel or pestle to pack it down, getting out as much air as possible. leave a little room at top and place one of the large pieces of cabbage on top and salt lightly. don't screw the lid on tightly or snap the metal fastener shut ( i use rubber bands to keep it closed, but if the gas in the jar builds up it can lift the lid slightly). what's happening is the kim chi is beginning to ferment and will produce gas (co2). oxygen will cause mold to grow, so you want some room for the gases to get out, but not for the oxygen to get in. leave out for 48 hours.that should be long enough to get things going.

sometimes the juice will seep out so you might want to place a plate under your jar.