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!