Sunday, September 6, 2009
I asked a Korean student to teach me to make Kimchi. He said, "Oh, that's very difficult, only Korean moms know how to make good Kimchi. It should be fermented in a clay jar and buried in the ground for the flavors to develop just right. We usually buy our Kimchi in Korea, it's delicious and more convenient than making your own. In America, I've never tasted good kimchi even when I buy from Korean stores."
Oh, well. I guess that's what I get for asking a young man who is a college kid! That's how desperate I have become about making real Kimchi.
I learned to make real Kimchi, about ten years ago. We were living at an apartment complex across the University. There were a lot of Korean students staying there too. Every night, I'd hear thumping coming from the floor above and beneath us. There was thumping too next door. At first I thought there were repairs being done but it went on every night, just after dinner, like clockwork. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I asked our Korean neighbor what was going on. She laughed and showed me what it was all about. She was making the Kimchi spice mix by pounding the ginger, garlic and hot pepper flakes using a mortar and pestle. So was every other Korean in the building! That explains all the after dinner thumping!
She taught me how to make Kimchi using hot pepper flakes which came directly from Korea. There was no Korean store where we lived but about this time, I had a Korean student who took my class the previous semester. He frequently visited home. It is a custom in most Asian countries to bring back souvenirs/presents to friends and family and he knew I loved Kimchi so he always had a huge bag of Korean pepper flakes for me. That's how my family got into loving Kimchi.
Fast forward, here in the Midwest, my Kimchi lesson is just a vague memory. My past 5 attempts have been hit or miss. More misses, actually. So I've resorted to a short cut.
I know how to make Kimchi the easy way -- by using a Kimchi base. When Michelle W. and I were at the Asian store, I even encouraged her to buy a bottle. I did not bother checking the ingredients since in the past it just said: garlic, vinegar, ginger, salt and sugar. Guess what, the Kimchi base I was using before had changed ingredients. Now it had raw oyster and squid extract, Yikes!!! I had to give away my expensive bottle of Kimchi base. Lucky for Mike M.! So I'm left with no option but to make Kimchi from scratch.
Hubby and Teen have been begging me to make Kimchi whenever I make them a Korean dinner. So I got out my favorite Taekyung Chung recipe for Kimchi.
1 medium head of napa cabbage, cut up into small pieces
1 cup water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 bunch green onions
5 Tbsp kimchi paste (recipe below)
In a glass bowl, add water and salt. Add napa cabbage and let soak for 2 hours. Drain water and squeeze out excess. Add kimchi paste to cabbage and mix in along with green onions.
Place raw kimchi into 2 gallon ziploc bag and squeeze/press out all the air. The recipe says store the raw Kimchi for 1 day and transfer to airtight container in the fridge. I think it is important to let it become acidic before placing it in the fridge, otherwise the Kimchi becomes slimy or non-lactic acid bacteria will proliferate.
1/4 c Korean hot pepper flakes
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp fish sauce ( the recipe says 2 Tbsp fish sauce + 2 tsp oyster
sauce so I just used 3 Tbsp fish sauce)
Mix together in a bowl till you have a smooth paste.
This is my Grow Your Own submission to for Sept 15, 2009. I'm using green onions from my garden in this Kimchi. The host this month is masalaheaven.