Well, yesterday was my Today Show gig.
What can I even say- The past two days were a whirlwind: Stressful, exciting, nerve-wracking, fun, AMAZING. Surreal. Surreal, but way more than nice. You can watch the clip here.
I can honestly say this was one of the coolest things I’ve EVER done. Probably in the top five. Maybe the top two. That says a lot because I’ve admittedly done a lot of very, very cool things. And you know what? I’m pretty sure when I’m 80, it’ll still be there at the top. Not to say that I’m not going to continue to do very cool things. I will.
But from where I sit now, It’ll be really hard to beat my seven New York minutes of fame.
Back to reality, and back to Korea.
When I first mentioned to my friends that it was Korea-time, every single one of them asked if I was making kimchee (aka kimchi). It’s obvious right? Before two weeks ago I admittedly knew very little about Korean food, but even in my naiveté knew of kimchee. As I wheeled my cart through the wonder of the H mart, I came upon a WHOLE WALL of kimchee, and almost, ALMOST bought it. Almost.
But I couldn’t do it. To you, to me, to the project. I’m here to make THE dishes of a nation, and to give kimchee the shaft would not have been cool.
In case you aren’t in the know, kimchee is a spicy and sour condiment of fermented vegetables, typically napa cabbage, radishes, scallions, cukes and spices. There are literally thousands of varieties. I think I saw them all at the H-mart. Anyway, fermentation takes months, and the readying jars are sometimes buried in the ground.
I’m not doing that. The burying or the months.
I gave it four days.
So, here it is.
- 1 large Napa cabbage
- ½ cup salt
- 1 Tbsp sweet rice powder (this might be labeled glutinous rice powder/flour as well)
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup Korean red chile powder (coarse gochugaru)
- ½ cup fish sauce (make sure the only two ingredients are anchovies and salt for a true fermented version vs. one that includes flavorings like MSG)
- 2 Tbsp whole cane sugar
- 1 3″ knob of fresh ginger
- 1 daikon radish (200g)
- ¼ cup yellow onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- Wash and remove the leaves from the core of the cabbage. Place cabbage leaves in a bowl of heavily salted water and let sit for 4-5 hours. Prepare the rice powder: Add one heaping Tbsp of the glutinous rice powder to a sauce pot with ½ cup water and, whisking continuously, bring to a boil. When it turns to ‘glue’, turn off the heat and continue whisking until it cools down a bit. Place in a bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Add the ginger, daikon radish, yellow onion, garlic to a food processor and process into a thick paste.
- Whisk together the prepared rice powder, red chile, fish sauce and sugar. Add in the processed ingredients to create a thick red chile paste. Once the cabbage has thoroughly soaked, rinse the leaves with water and chop into 1-2 inch pieces and set aside.
- Place half the cabbage into a large bowl and add half of the carrots and green onions. Using gloves, add half of the red chile mixture to the cabbage, carrots and green onions and work it so that every bit of cabbage is covered with the sauce. Press down into a fermentation vessel of your choice. Repeat with the second batch.
- Allow kimchi two days at room temperature, then test to repack it (adjust the crockery weights in the jar). It should be ready to pack in jars within one week and can keep for many months in the refrigerator.
Thoughts? To be honest, it’s been a while since I had store bought kimchee, so I’m not sure how this compares. I will say that it was a perfect complement to the bibimbap and it got better with age.
As do we all.
This post has been updated since originally posted.