Summer is taking her sweet time getting to the Colorado high country, and I’m fine with that. I got my first sunburn of the season over the weekend on a long trail run. The good news is that I was testing a new sunblock which worked really well, wasn’t sticky, greasy, or yucky. The bad news is that I forgot to apply sunblock to the back of my neck. But the other good news is that this tells me how well the sunblock works! I suppose every season requires some new manner of getting dialed in, but the transition from spring to summer is really quite delightful.
unsettled weather at sunset
cooling off in the snow after a long climb
lunch with my ski betties at pizzeria locale
When I met up with Erin and Nichole last week for lunch, I brought each of them a big slice of tiramisu because we had too much in the house. Erin questioned the validity of the phrase “have too much tiramisu in the house”, but happily did her part to alleviate our refrigerator of its burden. I also brought a jar of kimchi for Nichole, knowing that she loves the stuff as much as I do. I had offered some to Erin, but she politely declined. You either love it or you don’t love it. It falls into that category of foods that smell terrible and taste fantastic. I’ll tell you who doesn’t love it – Jeremy. He walked into the great room after I had opened the jars to check on their fermentation progress and he grimaced, “Ew!! Kaweah, did you?!”
start with napa cabbage and salt
quarter the heads
cut into bite-size pieces
place in cold water and cover with salt
Jeremy wasn’t off the mark at all. A couple of times when I walked into the room and had that odor hit me, my eyes immediately went to Kaweah. It’s all about gas – that is… fermentation. Kimchi is spicy, yes, but it is also slightly sour, almost effervescent, and a little funky in that wonderful fermented umami way. My pal, Ellen, gets it. She can down a lot of kimchi – that’s how she rolls. Jeremy is fascinated with the fermentation process, but not such a fan of the product and especially the by-products.
coarse red pepper powder, fish sauce, sugar, water, sweet rice flour
coarse ground, sun-dried red pepper
Ever since HMart (Asian grocer with lots of great Korean stuff) opened a new branch in Westminster (much closer to me than Aurora), I’ve been hankering to make my own kimchi. It’s as if the store beckons to you to make kimchi. Their napa cabbages and Korean radishes fill an entire section of the produce area, and then there are the stacks and stacks of 22-pound bags of Korean red pepper powder. Holy moly. I had to wheel around the store several times before I found the wimp-sized 1-pound bags for newbs like me.
stir the sweet rice flour and the water together
add sugar when the mixture begins to actively boil
cook until it starts turning translucent (it will be kinda thick and gooey)
add the fish sauce and the red pepper
Sweet rice flour is also called glutinous rice flour. In today’s culture, that happens to be a most unfortunate translation. There is no gluten in the sweet rice flour, it is called glutinous because it is sticky as hell. This is the stuff you use to make mochi or to immobilize arch enemies. It is gluten-free. Now, if you are celiac, please take note – not all fish sauces are gluten-free. The brand I prefer (Three Crabs) is totally NOT gluten-free. So if you want to make this, then you should source (i.e. Google) a good gluten-free fish sauce.
onion, garlic, ginger, green onions, carrot, korean radish, leek
place chopped onion, ginger, and garlic in a food processor
stir the purée into the sweet rice paste-red pepper mixture
The Korean radish is a kind of daikon radish. It is white and green, but if you can’t find it, use daikon radish instead. While prepping all of the ingredients for the paste, the cabbage should be soaking in salted water. Turn the cabbage over every 30 minutes for a total of 90 minutes soaking time. After 90 minutes, rinse the cabbage in cold water three times and drain the water off. I squeezed mine out a bit – you don’t have to.
julienne the radish
green onions, korean radish, leeks, carrots
stir the vegetables into the paste
I didn’t realize there were so many other ingredients in kimchi. I guess I’ve always just shoveled it into my mouth without inspecting it closely. Of course, I have a jar of store-bought kimchi that I compared to my homemade version. The store-bought kimchi really skimps on everything but the cabbage. I like that this recipe is chock full of goodies. Next time, I will cut the radish in larger strips or chunks because I love crunchy spicy radish kimchi. One ingredient I omitted from the original recipe is the salted squid, and that was mostly out of sheer laziness. I’ve seen some recipes call for dried shrimp as well as or instead of the salted squid. If you want to make this vegetarian, The Kitchn makes a version using kelp powder.
the drained, salted cabbage
mix the cabbage with the paste – be sure to wear disposable gloves
stuff the kimchi into a vessel with an airtight lid
Press the kimchi down into its container so that the liquid rises above the solids. Leave at least an inch of head space in the jar. I found after a day, I needed to transfer some of the kimchi to another jar so it wouldn’t leak liquid out the top. You might want to set your container over a plate or something similar to catch any liquid that does leak out during the fermentation process. I opened the jars and pushed the kimchi back down twice each day to release the carbon dioxide (a byproduct of the fermentation) and keep the liquid over the cabbage. After a couple of days, you will start to get the sour taste. I let mine go for 5 days because I really like that tanginess of the kimchi. Once the kimchi is where you like it, put it in the refrigerator. That will slow the fermentation process considerably.
Even though I absolutely love this kimchi, I’m glad I made half of the original recipe (the recipe below is half of the original). It makes a lot of kimchi and if you are the only one in the household eating it, you may not want or have space for 2 gallons of kimchi. And you can certainly reduce the recipe by half or a quarter as is your wont. I’m just thrilled that kimchi is so easy to make at home!
love to have myself some kimchi ramen
spicy, homemade kimchi
from Maangchi (I halved the original recipe)
5 lbs. napa cabbage
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (like Mochiko)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsps sugar
1/2 cup garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup onion, cut into medium chunks
1/2 cup fish sauce
1 1/4 cups coarse ground red pepper powder
5 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
1 cup leek, chopped (greens too)
2 cups Korean radish, julienned
1/4 cup carrot, julienned
Prepare the cabbage: Remove any wilted outer leaves of the napa cabbage heads. Quarter the heads lengthwise and cut out the cores. Chop the cabbage into bite-size pieces. Place the cabbage in a large bowl of water (use two large bowls if it won’t all fit). Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage (divide it accordingly if you have multiple bowls of cabbage). Turn the cabbage every 30 minutes to get an even brining for a total of 90 minutes. Rinse the cabbage in a large bowl of water three times. Drain the cabbage and set aside until ready to use.
Prepare the paste: Combine the sweet rice flour and the water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Keep stirring until it is bubbling and then add the sugar. Continue to stir until the mixture turns somewhat translucent. Pour into a large (really large) clean bowl. Place the garlic, ginger, and onion in the bowl of a food processor and purée. Add the purée to the sweet rice paste along with the fish sauce and the red pepper powder and mix it all together. Stir in the green onions, leeks, Korean radish, and carrot until the vegetables are well-coated.
Mix and ferment: Add the cabbage to the paste and mix by hand (wear a disposable glove – you will be happier for it later) until all of the cabbage is evenly coated with the paste. Pack the kimchi tightly into an airtight container (glass jar, plastic tub, etc.). You may have to use multiple containers. Push the kimchi down so the liquid covers the top, but leave at least 1 inch of headspace in the top of the container. Let the kimchi sit on the counter for a day with some sort of plate or bowl to catch any leaking liquid underneath the container. If it is fermenting, there will be gas bubbles developing down in the kimchi which pushes the liquid up and possibly out of the top of your vessel. Open the lid once or twice a day to let the kimchi de-gas and to push the cabbage back down into the vessel. After 2 days, it should start to sour a little (this is good!). If this is the right taste for you, seal it up and place it in the refrigerator to enjoy as you like. I let mine go 5 days and it was AWESOME. Makes a gallon.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
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