A passion for food + fashion

The Kimchi Chronicles: Part One

In Food on January 9, 2011 at 7:19 pm

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!

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  1. Love Love Love Kimchi! I’m going to have to try this recipe.

    I, too, have abandoned my mandoline. Instead I have a set of these babies:

    http://www.kyoceraadvancedceramics.com/products/kitchen/slicers.html

    SO much easier to use. But please do use the hand guard when getting close to the blade. I speak from experience.

  2. I’ve gone to the V-Slicer. Still intimidated by it, but when brave I do use it. And I too love Kimchi! Lovely recipe here.

  3. You had me at Kimchee. There are over 200 types of kimchee. It is the celebrated national dish of Korea that is proudly eaten at any meal…any time of the day. I remember making my first batch squatting along side my Korean grandmother…listening carefully to her directions as she had from her her mother’s mother. It is a right of passage for most women in Korea. As with most modern conveniences, the younger generation simply buys this pungent staple instead of honoring the process. I prefer it a bit aged…so that the flavors develop. Every household has their own take on kimchee. Regardless, this pungent dish has traveled a long history….still celebrated, still devoured, still made with love. Enjoy!

  4. Hello,

    I discovered your blog after listening to the Splendid Table tonight on NPR. (Thanks for all the great wine tips!). I am so in love with the idea of making my own kimchi and I’m super excited to have discovered your blog. Thanks!

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