radish

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

by Heguiberto on January 11, 2013

This Napa cabbage kimchi turned out as authentic as the ones I eat at Korean restaurants here in San Francisco. It was fun to make and it took just 3 days before it was ready. (Three days might sound like a long time to some, but I’ve seen recipes where the kimchi had to ferment for a week or more.) I have made kimchi at home before but never used the traditional Korean gochugaru pepper. Instead I substituted jalapeño and poblano peppers, which resulted in an ultra-spicy version. This is milder.

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

This recipe, with some minor adaptations, comes from Insanity Theory written by Ellie Won, a South Korean who grew up in Australia.

Aside from the excellent recipe, she wowed me with a kimchi refrigerator! Pretty cool! It makes sense to me. My jar of kimchi only fit in the refrigerator after some serious reshuffling.

Steven served it for the first time with rice and beans cooked in the Brazilian way. I simply love mixing foods from different ethnic backgrounds. The results can be surprisingly good. I think that this is what they call fusion cuisine? A bit of this and a bit of that combined together? It certainly breaks the monotony of a meal that could otherwise be boring and monochromatic. A toast to globalization!

The recipe calls for Chinese pear, which I didn’t have. I added red radish to it and changed the proportions of chili powder, sugar and fish sauce. I also added a fresh red jalapeño pepper because… well why not?

authentic Napa cabbage kimchi

1 large head Napa Cabbage cut into wedges (~6Lbs)
~1½ cups non iodized sea salt
4 cups water (1 quart)
1 heaping tbsp sweet rice flour (sticky rice)
1 &1/3 cup Gochugaru chili powder
3 tbsp fish sauce (leave it out in case you want to make it vegan) use ~ 1 tbsp salt instead
1 tbsp sugar
6 whole scallions cut into 2’’ long segments
6 cloves garlic
1 2’’ piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
½ white or sweet onion
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and ribs removed
5 small red radishes, thinly sliced
1/3 lb daikon, sliced

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

key ingredients for authentic kimchi

Dissolve ½ cup of salt in the water. Add cabbage bottom parts in first. Make sure all leaves and base receive a coat of this brine. Drain water.

Use part or all the remainder salt to sprinkle over each leaf, including the thick white parts at the base. Put the cabbage in a bowl and let the salt dehydrate it for about 3 hours (Ellie recommends 5-6 hours or until it is floppy). Mine became floppy within 3 hours.

Rinse cabbage thoroughly in running water to remove excess salt. Squeeze it to remove as much water as possible. Place it in a colander and allow it to drain for another 15 to 20 minutes.

During the cabbage dehydration process, make a ‘pudding’ or ‘glue’ by mixing rice powder with ½ cup of water and cooking it on low heat, whisking nonstop until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Towards the last 10 minutes before draining is complete, add jalapeño chili, onion, ginger, garlic, and daikon to your food processor. Whiz into a pulp. Mix this pulp with the rice ‘glue’ along with gochugaru pepper, sugar and fish sauce.

Using a spatula spread the kimichi paste uniformly on both sides of each of the leaves. Put the cabbage in and jar, cover and let it rest in a dark, cool place for about 3 days. Be careful when opening it as gases that build up during fermentation will be under pressure. When ready the flavors will have married and you will sense a slight fizzyness, At this point refrigerate and enjoy.

As your kimchi continues to age in the fridge the flavors become more pungent. If it gets too intense to eat by itself, you can turn the kimchi into soups or make a yummy kimchi fried rice.

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This yummy recipe comes from The Kimchi Chronicles by Marja Vongerichten, a marvelous and very accessible Korean cookbook. Marja writes that she learned this recipe from her husband, who apparently first discovered it on a visit to a small island off the southern coast of Korea, called Jeju.

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeongol

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeongol

I love bouillabaisse-style seafood soups with flavorful clear broths, though this is not your typical one at all. This turned out lively with a powerful spicy and sour flavor. Somewhat reminiscent of Thai bouillabaisse this one does not use the aromatic herbs, galangal root, lemon grass and kafir lime leaves. But the umma paste gives it wonderful flavor.

I used store-bought kimchi this time but for the next, I want to make my own.

store-bought kimchi

store-bought kimchi

Korean kimchi seafood bouillabaisse AKA haemul jeogol

3 cups chopped kimichi with juices
8 cups water
1 small onion, cut into large cubes
6 Korean radish (moo) or daikon root sliced thin, ~ 2 cups
1 bunch watercress
3 tbsp umma paste
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp sugar
Salt
10 clams
10 mussels
6 shrimp
1 piece red snapper

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, add chopped kimichi and boil for about 5 minutes. Add moo, umma paste, fish sauce, sugar and salt and cook for 8-10 minutes. Adjust flavor with more salt, fish sauce or even umma paste. Add fish and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove fish and keep warm. Add clams and mussels and let them cook until they open. Discard unopened shells. Turn temperature to low, add shrimp, fish and watercress. Turn heat off, keep it covered until watercress has wilted and shrimp turn pink. Serve and enjoy!

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Vietnamese dipping sauce

by Heguiberto on December 16, 2009

This dipping sauce is very common in Vietnamese cooking where it’s used to flavor noodles, meat, spring rolls, rice or as a condiment at table. This time I used it to complement scallion pancakes. It’s sweet, sour, tart, salty, pungent and spicy. I love it to the point I can just drink it right out of the bowl!

Vietnamese dipping sauce

Vietnamese dipping sauce

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:
3 fresh garlic cloves
2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed then minced (preferably red)
3 tbsp sugar
Juice of 3 limes or lemons
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup fish sauce
2 medium carrots, shredded
4 red radishes, shredded

Soak shredded carrots and radish in salt water for twenty minutes.

Place garlic, sugar, and jalapeño pepper into a mortar and pound it until it turns into a paste. Transfer to a bowl. Add rice vinegar, fish sauce and stir, assuring all the sugar is dissolved. Add lime juice. Rinse carrots and radish then add to sauce.

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root vegetable kimchi

by Heguiberto on November 10, 2009

ripening root vegetable kimchi

ripening root vegetable kimchi

Last week we finally made our way to the Alemany farmers’ market. We love it and will return. Maybe we got carried away on our first visit. We bought so many vegetables there that I had enough for not one but two kinds of kimchi! So I made the Baechu kimchi with Napa cabbage again and tried a new recipe for a root vegetable kimchi.

The kimichi paste is basically the same for both kinds, though in the root vegetable version, I added grated horseradish. Last time I made the baechu, I avoided using the seeds and ribs of most of the peppers for fear that it would be too spicy. Unfortunately, that made it too mild. This time around I added more chili pepper and used them whole!

Both kimichis need about six days to mature due to the unusual weather this time of year. The temperature in San Francisco has been in the mid 70’s lately. Yoohoo! Well the baechu recipe you already know so here is my root vegetable kimichi:

Vegetables

fresh root vegetables for kimchi

fresh root vegetables for kimchi

2 medium daikon radishes, peeled and cut into thin 6-7 inch long match sticks
2 medium burdock roots, peeled and cut into thin diagonal slices
5 Jerusalem artichokes, rinsed and quartered
1 lb mixed colored radishes
4 medium carrots, sliced using a potato peeler
6 scallions, cut into 5 inch lengths

Kimichi Paste

3 tbsp grated fresh horseradish
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
5 cloves of garlic
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
6 fresh red chili peppers (jalapeño, cayenne) no substitutes
½ red bell pepper
Sea salt

How to: Fill a deep bowl with ½ gallon cold water. Add 6 to 8 tbsp. salt and mix till dissolved to make the brine. Add daikon, burdock, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes, carrots and scallions. Cover with a plate to keep vegetables submerged in brine. Soak for 4-6 hours making sure veggies are submerged at all times. Drain vegetables (do not discard the brine). Taste. The veggies should already be slightly tender at this point. They should be salty but not too salty. If too salty rinse some with cold water. If they need more salt, add it here.

kimchi paste

kimchi paste

Add peppers, garlic, grated ginger and horse radish to food processor and pulse to form a smooth paste. Add onion and pulse till smooth. Transfer pepper paste to vegetables and mix well.

Stuff veggies into a clean 2 liter glass jar. Press them down to remove air pockets and add as much as possible. Veggies must be completely submerged at all times. If needed, add a bit of brine just to top off. Using a small zip lock bag, fill it with some brine and place it on top of the veggies as a weight to keep them submerged. Seal jar tightly. Open jar daily to release built up gas and to avoid explosions.

Let jar stand at room temperature till ready for use. If you live somewhere warm, taste it every day for doneness as it’s likely to be ready sooner. When it’s sufficiently ripened, move jar to the fridge for longer term storage. Ours turned out to be spicier than I thought it would; it must be the horseradish. After a week the vegetables are still crunchy and ripening isn’t finished.

Eat this as a salad, with Asian foods or as a condiment to veggie burgers.

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homemade baechu kimchi

by Heguiberto on October 12, 2009

homemade baechu kimchi

homemade baechu kimchi

I have always been fascinated by kimchi. And I’ve been curious about making it at home but never got around doing it till last week. The reason I didn’t try it before is that I was afraid I was going to mess something up in the process of making it, thereby poisoning myself and the entire household. But then I read this inspiring book, Wild Fermentation, and decided that it was about time for me to overcome my phobia!

Some foods are preserved with salt or sugar, vinegar or dried by the Sun or with cold air. Well, fermentation is just another way of preservation. Think wine! It breaks down enzymes your body would not otherwise digest from certain foods(e.g soy beans); it lends additional layers of flavors and texture to foods; it adds nutritious elements to the food; and it helps you get through periods where fresh food might be scarce (well not so much nowadays as food keeps traveling across oceans).

I was surprised as to how easy it was to make kimchi. Now I’ve got a big jar of it in the fridge, waiting. Last Friday Steven made a beautiful sautéed tofu dish with my homemade kimchi. That was good.

Because it is Fall, I opted to make the traditional baechu kimchi. Baechu is the name for Napa Cabbage in Korean but the word is also related to the way this particular kimchi is made.

I am a bit sensitive to smells and kimchi has this pungent aroma that rings bells in my brain signaling me to ‘chuck this thing away immediately!’ It’s spoiled! I am sure everybody has issues with certain food smells here and there… think of anchovies, fish sauce, shrimp paste or preserved tofu, all stinky but extremely healthy. My sister-in-law hates the smell of alcohol so abstains from all wine, beer and spirits. Poor girl! I have to admit, that I struggle with the smell of certain wines. I could not conceive the idea of living without so many dishes that you can make with these amazing legacy ingredients left to us from our ancestors. Don’t be shy, give it a try!

Here’s my recipe adapted from the book:

Homemade Baechu Kimchi

1 medium Napa cabbage, rinsed and roughly chopped
2 carrots cut into fine strips
1 bunch of red radishes rinsed and sliced
6 tbsp of sea salt
1 large onion cut into chunks
8 cloves of garlic (or more)
1 (or more) red Poblano pepper, seeds removed
3 (or more) red Jalapeño peppers, seeds partially removed
5 tbsp fresh grated ginger

How to:
Fill two deep salad bowls with cold water. Add equal amounts of salt to them and mix till dissolved. Add Napa cabbage, carrots and radishes and cover with a plate to soak for 4-6 hours making sure veggies are submerged at all times. Drain vegetables (do not discard the brine). Taste. The Napa cabbage should already be slightly tender at this point. It should be salty but not too salty. If too salty rinse some with cold water.

fresh ingredients for kimchi

fresh ingredients for kimchi

Add peppers, garlic and grated ginger to food processor and pulse to form a smooth paste. Add onion and pulse till smooth. Transfer pepper paste to vegetables and mix well. Stuff veggies into a clean 2 liter glass jar. Press them down to add as much as possible. Veggies must be completely submerged at all times. If needed, add a bit of brine just to top off. Using a small zip lock bag, fill it with some brine and place it on top of the veggies as a weight.

Let jar stand at room temperature till ready for use. San Francisco is not that warm so it took about six days. If you live somewhere warm, taste it every day for doneness as it’s likely to be ready sooner. When it’s sufficiently ripened, move jar to the fridge for longer term storage.

Eat your kimchi as a side dish with your meals. Mine turned out fairly mild so I’ll add more pepper next time. I am super proud of my first kimchi! I will definitely experiment with different veggies and roots in the future.

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