Making Kimchi

March 7, 2009

kimchi_closeup

I’ve always enjoyed kimchi at Korean restaurants, or at a friend’s house, but not something I’ve purchased myself.  I have no idea why, but I decided a couple weeks ago to attempt making some myself.  I started researching on-line and found a ton of recipes, conflicting techniques and arguments over proper ingredients.  I’ve been told we do have a Korean grocer here in Omaha, just north of I80 on 84th, but I was too lazy to drive down there.  So instead of using Korean pepper flakes, Korean red pepper powder and Kimchi sauce; I used: Schillling crushed red pepper, Chinese red pepper powder and Thai fish sauce.  Maybe this isn’t a traditional kimchi but let me tell you; it’s sweet, sour, crunchy, soft, garlicky, spicy — goodness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Napa (Chinese) cabbages
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 5 green onions
  • 8 cloves garlic, about 2.5 tablespoons
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ginger root, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese red pepper powder
  • Thai fish sauce
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

Before starting make sure all cooking utensils, including hands, are very clean.  I washed everything with soap and water, and thoroughly rinsed under hot tap water.  Kimchi is a fermented product, you don’t want to add bacteria that will spoil the batch.

napa_cabbage

Remove outer leaves of cabbage.

napa_cabbage_split

Slice cabbage in half.  You want the two halves to remain intact for now.  Rinse the cabbage well under the tap, including between the leaves.

salting_napa_cabbage

Spread the leaves apart and rub/sprinkle salt on all sides of each leaf, putting more on the thicker areas of the leaves.  Some people soak the cabbage in a brine solution.  The idea is to force the cabbage to give up water and to soften.

napa_cabbage_limp

Within two to six hours the cabbage should be soft enough.  It depends on how much salt you use.  I salted mine four hours.  You can see in the picture above how limp the leaves are.  The ends of the leaves should be soft while the base of the leaves remain somewhat crunchy.  The next step is to rinse the cabbage three times under running water, squeezing the water out each time.  The halves should remain whole but don’t be afraid to really squeeze and twist hard.  The idea is to get as much salt off as possible.  Set the cabbage in a colander, cut side down and let drain while you make the sauce.

kimchi_sauce

In a large mixing bowl combine, crushed pepper, powdered pepper, sugar, ginger and garlic.  Add enough fish sauce to this mixture to make a paste.   Slice onion and green onion into bite size pieces and mix with the paste.

napa_cabbage_stem

Remove stem from the cabbage and cut the rest into bite size pieces, mix with the paste until all the pieces are coated.

kimchi_packed

Now all that’s left is to put the batch into a covered container, let it ferment at room temperature for one to three days, and then refrigerate.  I let mine ferment for 64 hours.  The time really depends on how sour you want the kimchi .  The longer you leave it at room temperature, the more sour it gets.  Also be aware that the fermentation continues after you put it in the refrigerator, it just slows considerably.  A good way to judge how sour the kimchi , is to taste it each day.  Just make sure you use a clean utensil; you don’t want to introduce bacteria that could spoil the batch.  Another thing, the lid on the container should allow some air to escape.  As the kimchi ferments it lets off gas which could cause a tightly lidded container to explode!  Enjoy your kimchi as a side, with soup, eggs, rice, whatever you like.

By Kenton


Icebox miso

February 26, 2009

icebox_miso

I posted about icebox risotto earlier this week and I’m now getting around to posting about my icebox miso.  When cleaning out the refrigerator last weekend, these are the odds and ends I pulled out that made me think of miso: 2 carrots, 1 baby bok choy, 2 cups rice, one half onion.  The soup is very easy to make and quick.   First step is to make the dashi if you don’t have any on hand.  Additions to the dashi can be just about any vegetable or meat you like, plus miso paste.  Miso paste comes in light, medium and dark.  I used medium for this recipe.

Dashi

  • 12 inches of Kombu (giant kelp)
  • 4 cups bonito flakes, loosely packed
  • 2 quarts water

Combine kombu and water, slowly bring water temperature up and simmer for 4 minutes.  Remove kombu, bring broth to boil, take off heat and add the bonito flakes.  Let bonito flakes steep for 2 minutes and then strain.  The flakes hold quite a bit of water, so remember to press all the water out of them.

Miso Soup

  • 2 quarts dashi
  • 1 baby bok choy
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 12 oz firm or extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups precooked rice
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons medium miso paste

Thinly slice vegetables and cube tofu into 1/2 inch pieces.  Bring dashi to a low simmer and add all the ingredients, except the miso paste.  Allow the water to just return to a gentle simmer and reduce heat to low.   Slowly add miso paste to dashi 1/2 to 1 tablespoon at a time, until you’re happy with the flavor.  Do this by scooping out 1/2 cup of dashi and blend with miso paste.  Then add the mixture back into the soup.  Make sure the vegetables are slightly softened and other ingredients warmed through and serve.

By Kenton