For The Love of Kimchi!

24 Sep

Oh most holy of food! There is no food that better represents the heart and soul of Korean people than kimchi. It’s sassy, pungent, earthy, and will smack you in the head sometimes. I can’t live without it!

And there is no one on the planet that makes better kimchi than my mom. I will challenge any chef, any home cook or even anyone else’s mom. that’s also why I never tried to make it myself, there’s no way I could beat my mom’s kimchi. But I decided it was finally time I should give it a try. My favorite kind of kimchi is cucumber kimchi (oi sobaegi), so I’m gonna start with that. My mom makes it with cucumbers she grows in her garden. For me, cucumbers from Fairway Market will have to do.

So here goes!

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This recipe is super easy and the kimchi will last you about a week (or more depending how sour you like it):

  • 4 pickling cucumbers or other small cucumbers
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon Korean chili powder (gochugaru or Korean “crushed red pepper can be found in Asian food markets)
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce

First wash the  cucumbers with water thoroughly to remove any dirt from the skin.

Using a mandolin, cut the cucumbers into thin circles, about 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. You can buy a mandolin at Asian food markets but most kitchen stores have them now. Please be VERY careful when using a mandolin, the blade is super sharp. Most mandolins come with a guard to hold the food in place, I strongly urge you to use that or else you may cut off more than just the food!

Place the cucumbers in a bowl and mix with the salt. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the garlic, scallions, ginger, vinegar, chili power, sugar, fish sauce.

Drain the cucumbers, discarding the liquid. Then stir the cucumbers into the garlic mixture until everything is combined.

Wrap the bowl with saran wrap tightly and keep in refrigerator for 12-24 hours before serving. The kimchi needs to marinate in the mixture and the fish sauce will help the kimchi start to turn sour.

Note about that fish sauce. My mother uses baby shrimp instead of the fish sauce, but fish sauce is much easier. Most people think kimchi is vegetarian because they only see the vegetables, but there’s fish sauce or shrimp in it, so make sure you warn your vegetarian friends.

When the kimchi is ready, just serve it as a side dish with the rest of your meal. I guess some purists will say serve it with some rice and some Korean meat, but I think kimchi goes with everything, so be original. I used my first batch of kimchi as a topping for pork belly tacos. Came out pretty darned good! Will share the taco recipe later.

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2 Responses to “For The Love of Kimchi!”

  1. Shoshana Pursley February 3, 2013 at 6:41 PM #

    Is there a benefit to putting it in the fridge as opposed to leaving it at room temp? Most of the kimchi tutorials I’ve seen say counter to ferment and fridge after. Thanks!!

    • saucysmile February 3, 2013 at 7:31 PM #

      I find for this kimchi that you don’t need it to ferment on the counter. This is a quick-style kimchi, so you just need to ferment it overnight in the fridge and you can start eating it. Though it tastes better a couple of days later. Since the cucumbers are delicate, they don’t need so long to ferment. Good luck!

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