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. 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.
The recipe I found is for “Easy” Kimchi, and I adapted it from The Kitchn’s recipe
2 pounds of baby napa cabbage
¼ cup sea salt
1 TB garlic, grated
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
3 TB fish sauce
3 TB red pepper flakes (or Korean gochugaru, if you can find it)
1 cup daikon radish, cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, cut into 1” pieces
1. Cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the cores. Cut into 2 inch wide strips
2. Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands, massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, and then add water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy. Let stand for 1-2 hours.
3. Rinse the cabbage under cold water three times and drain in a colander for 20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set aside for later use.
4. Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar and fish sauce. Mix in the red pepper flakes.
5. Squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage. Add the squeezed cabbage to the bowl along with the radish, scallions and seasoning paste.
6. Using your hands, gently work the paste into the veggies until they are thoroughly coated. Use gloves. Or a plastic bag. TRUST ME.
7. Pack the kimchi in a jar, pressing down until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1” headspace. Seal the jar.
8. Let it ferment by keeping it at room temperature for 1-5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seem out of the lid. This is normal.
9. Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down into the vegetables to make sure they stay submerged. Try it- when you like it, move to the fridge, but it’s best after another week or two.
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.