One of my favorite ethnic foodstuffs is kimchi—a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables, frequently with napa cabbage and loaded with ginger, garlic and chili powder. I’ve always wanted to try making my own but had never gotten past the idea phase until a rogue head of cabbage in my CSA farm box this week forced my hand. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to go shopping at HK Market in Koreatown on Western x 1st. Which is where I found salted shrimp. I have enough here for about a hundred batches of kimchi, but I’m thinking about deploying them in scallion pancakes or some kind of stew. This is between us, of course, so please don’t breathe a word to Mr. Foodinista. I’ve hidden the jar at the back of the fridge.
While at HK, I also grabbed a ton of ginger and garlic, as well as a huge thing of kochukaru (Korean chile powder) and some usukuchi, which is a lighter-colored soy sauce. From there, I followed David Chang’s recipe for Momofuku Kimchi.
The recipe calls for julienned carrots and I thought why not give the never-been-used julienne blade a go on the mandoline? At which point I lost my mind trying to figure out how to work the damn thing. While fluent in straight blade and crinkle cut, apparently I flunked julienne. What am I missing? Defeated, I resorted to julienning the old-fashioned way, with a knife. (Peeling potatoes and julienning rank as my two least favorite things to do in the kitchen, btw.) Can someone tell me, do I have this blade on there wrong? I mean, I think the blade is on there right but do I need to have the straight blade on there, too?
But I’m over it, I promise. Because—mandoline rage notwithstanding—the kimchi came together so much more easily than I imagined. It has to refrigerate at least 24 hours (this after 24 hours of the sliced cabbage first sitting doused with salt and sugar) so tomorrow night we are planning kimchi quesadillas. The kimchi reaches its prime in two weeks—on the very day I return from South Africa—so quite a homecoming it will be. Stay tuned!