I feel like I’ve joined the game already in progress. It’s discouraging seeing hundreds of blogs out there, all with their unique story and personal touch, and wondering how do I fit in to all of this? I try to be fresh and innovative, tell my story as best I can, show my affinity for food, take adequate-at-best pictures; but I’m destined, like all other bloggers out there, to follow in each others footsteps. We make the same dishes, adapt recipes from magazines, find interest in new trends, and all around love food. I worry about finding my niche, about a lack of readership. I don’t want to be just another chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Kimchi and chocolate, as far as I know, do not go together. So there will be no chocolate chip cookie recipe with kimchi as an addition. However, I can’t think of a bigger hot topic in the food world than kimchi. I dare you to Google “kimchi + blog recipe,” or some form of that search and see the myriad of postings about people experimenting with making their own kimchi. Go ahead and open up a new tab and search. I will wait…
All right, cool. Did my blog posting pop up on the 1st page? No? That damn David Lebovitz probably has top billing huh? That chocolate loving genius, he’s got the lockdown on all the good recipes. So you can see how it might be dispiriting as a blogger to even attempt to cover kimchi in a post when it has already flooded the interwebs and has probably been better perfected by numerous others who managed to take extraordinarily eye-catching photos of soggy, red-speckled cabbage. Well none-the-less, I got a kimchi recipe for you. I’d like to say that it was given to my by some kimchi master, but rather I adapted it from Mr. Lebovitz and a few others to make it my own.
I love a good kimchi. It’s not on the same realm as say, goat cheese, but it’s up there for sure. The first time I had kimchi, I didn’t even know what it was. I sheepishly played along, oohing and ahing over the exotic topping that was offered as a condiment for a burger. I knew it was foreign and most likely weird, but probably something I should try if it was on top of a burger. I feel as though burgers are the perfect vehicle for showing off ingredients; there’s the obvious, cheese, bacon, avocado, and then there are the other, slightly more exotic items like fried eggs, foie gras, pork belly, and of course kimchi. I say if it’s good on a burger, then it must be all around good.
Anyhoo, Kimchi, for those not familiar is a traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. The main component of kimchi is Napa Cabbage; everything else that goes in depends on the regional recipe. Some have more spice than others, using dried chili as a component, but the most common ingredients are scallion, garlic, ginger, and daikon radish. There are regions nearer the water that insist on using fresh anchovies or oysters, or already dried or fermented sea creatures for depth of flavor.
(My recipe as you will soon see, does not implement any sort of creatures from the sea, as I am already opposed to the idea of this thing fermenting in a jar for a day or two before I put it in the fridge; the last thing I want to do is add something that is going to make it smell like the wharf)
It was difficult to put aside everything I learned from acquiring my ServSafe certification and allow a container of vegetables to ferment at room temperature for two days, but this is how it’s done, and will not argue with that.
And in case you were wondering, Health Magazine named kimchi in its list of top five “World’s Healthiest Foods” for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth. And remember bird flu? Infected chickens that were fed kimchi actually began to recover!
Kimchi is sounding pretty awesome now, huh? If nothing else, hopefully this post has got you on the kimchi bandwagon as well – albeit a little late like myself. If you’re afraid of making it yourself, I don’t blame you. The good news is you can usually find it at specialty Asian markets, and it will probably taste better than mine.
The way I see it, as a writer you’re hoping to reach at least one person, and after you get one, countless others will follow. On a side note, I’ve taken one step closer to fulfilling my dreams by having my first personal essay published. It was published in a small, online literary journal called Ink-Filled Page; but I couldn’t be more pleased that they appreciated what I had to offer and that they selected one of my favorites, July of my Youth.
So perhaps there’s one or two among my throng of supporters that has seen what I’ve seen, tasted what I’ve tasted, and followed the recipes I’ve clipped; but for those who haven’t, this one is for you.
To sum it all up: if you’re like me, when you have kimchi around, you should put it on everything. You really can’t go wrong; it’s good in noodles and soups, on pizza and burgers, in quesadillas and scrambled eggs; hell, just put it between two pieces of bread and go to town!
1 fresh Chinese cabbage, dark green outer leaves removed
1/2 cup cooking salt, 1/4 reserved
1L water plus 1/2 cup
1 heaping tbsp rice powder
4 scallions, washed and sliced on an angle
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 knob of ginger, grated
1/4 pear (preferably Asian), cored and peeled and diced
1 medium daikon radish, diced
1/4 cup chili garlic paste
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 Lemon juiced
1. Cut the cabbage in quarters, and cut into the stem to remove most of it.
2. Combine 1L water with 1/4 cup of cooking salt into a large bowl, then plunge cabbage into the water one quarter at a time. Carefully separate the leaves layer by layer and make sure that you get the salted water right to the base of the leaves.
3. Drain water from the cabbage segments, then sprinkle a light layer of cooking salt over each layer of leaves.
4. Place the cabbage segments into a bowl and leave covered for 2-3 hours, or till cabbage is floppy enough so that the leaves can be bent over, but still make a crisp snapping noise when snapped.
5. Rinse the cabbage well under running water, then squeeze as much water out of the possible, and leave in a strainer for another 15-30 mins to drain the last of the water out.
6. For the sauce: Combine 1 tbsp rice powder with 1/2 cup water in a pot, stir over low heat till the mixture has turned white, has a very thick consistency and bubbles whilst being stirred.
7. While rice powder mixture is cooling, blend together the garlic, ginger, pear, and daikon radish in food processor and pulse until mixture becomes pulpy. Once the rice powder glue is completely cool, stir in the garlic chili paste, sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice, then pear, radish, ginger mixture, and scallions and combine well.
8. (My mixture wasn’t as pasty as it should have been, so I combined the cabbage with the mixture in a pint-sized container and made sure the mixture covered all pieces of the cabbage.) I would recommend using less liquidy items if you follow my recipe to a T. When the mixture is more pasty: lay out the cabbage and coat the front and back of every leaf.
9. Once all the cabbage has been coated, press down into an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 days to aid the fermentation process, then place in your fridge for another 3 days. Kimchi can be stored in your fridge for up to 3 months.