I have been AWOL from Our Kitchen for some months; I was on holiday in September, but I promise this recipe makes up for my absenteeism.
I want to talk about kimchi/ kimchee/gimchi (김치) – this traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables is set to trend massively in 2015 and I wanted to be a part of it.
I started researching before I went away last month, but just like lasagne; everyone has ‘the best recipe’ …..Thankfully my friend Sung was on hand to provide lots of inspiration and assistance. I started the kimchi process earlier in the week and it is currently fermenting while I type.
Traditional preparation of kimchi saw it ferment underground in jars for months. I am too impatient to wait that long (although I may well stick one jar in the ground next time I make a batch of kimchi – for comparisons sake).
Before the invention of the kimchi refrigerator, each season saw a different type of kimchi born; Winter saw the biggest varieties of kimchi available – having been prepared at the start of the season in preparation for the long winter months. Autumn sees the ‘whole’ cabbage kimchi prepared – by stuffing a paste between the leaves of the cabbage. Spring gives way to fresh kimchi – using pot herbs and vegetables which is consumed fresh, with no fermentation required, and finally Summer; where radishes and cucumbers along with other vegetables are in abundance – turned into kimchi which is often complimented with dried chilli peppers.
It is the summer season which my kimchi most identifies with; – ( 양배추김치 Yangbeachu kimchi – translates as summer kimchi) I love radishes; their texture and colour adds so much to a dish, which is only furthered by their nice peppery flavour as you bite into them.
I also decided to omit the fish sauce which seems popular in many of the recipes, as I didn’t want my kimchi to be overwhelmed with that flavour – I wanted to retain the spicy sourness which is how this dish is often described.
To accompany my kimchi, I also made BoSsam (보쌈), on Sung’s recommendation – 2 weeks ago I had never heard this word spoken. Now it is literally ALL.I.WANT.TO EAT. This pork belly dish is also a traditional Korean meal, which has two key stages. The first involves boiling the pork belly in a cooking broth, while step two involves covering it in a special rub and grilling it- Recipe to follow soon.
I would like to quickly thank my friend Sung for his help with this post and his patience while I tried to work out which Korean characters best described my dish – Thanks so much Sung!
Makes 4-5 200ml jarsIngredients
1 whole savoy cabbage, veins and heart removed, cut into thin strips OR 1 nappa cabbage
6 -8 radishes -cut into match sticks
1 whole carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
250g (approximately) of Daikon, cut into matchsticks
2 large spring onions, finely sliced
1/3 cup sea salt (flakes, rather than grains)
Up to 3L Water (preferably spring)
1 ½ tablespoons grated garlic (approximately 10 cloves)
1 ½ tablespoons of sugar
1 ½ tablespoons of grated root ginger
3 ½ tablespoons of Korean red pepper flakes (Gochugaru)
Clean jars with lids
A large mixing bowl
A heavy plate
1. Slice all the kimchi vegetables (in this instance, the cabbage, radishes, carrot, spring onions and daikon) into matchsticks.
2. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and cover with all the sea salt. Massage for 5 minutes – the salt will start to break down the vegetables and they will start to get wet and soften. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the vegetables and weigh down with a large plate. Allow to stand for 90 mins/ 2 hours
3. Meanwhile, make the red chilli paste; combine the grated ginger, garlic, sugar and chilli in a bowl and allow to stand.
4. Rinse and drain the vegetables thoroughly and return to the large bowl.
5. USING GLOVES start to mix the paste into the vegetable mixture. It may look initially like there isn’t enough paste, but work through the vegetables for 10 minutes (approx.) – gradually the paste will spread and cover the veggies. Mix thoroughly until all the vegetables are well covered.
6. Pack the kimchi into clean jars, allowing 2.5cm space at the top of each jar. Seal the jars and place onto a large tray/plate.
7. Allow the jars to stand at room temperature for 3-5 days. Bubbles may appear inside the jar, and the jars may leak (hence the tray to help catch any overflow)
8. Check the kimchi daily – open each jar and press firmly down on the vegetables with a clean soon encouraging them to be submerged in the brine, taste regularly – one the taste develops to your preference, transfer the jars to the refrigerator.
9. At this point the kimchi can be eaten straightway, or left in the fridge for a couple more weeks. Enjoy