Elwood 5566

Killing Kimchi and Murdering Makgeolli!

Posted in 'Westernization' of Korea, Food and Drink, rice wine (beer), vodcast by 노강호 on March 10, 2012

I’ve recently posted my new video on how to make makgeolli, but before that…

One of my Korean friends recently questioned the point of making makgeolli when it is so much easier to buy! Where do you begin? I love randomness! I hate straight cucumbers, regimented onions and all vegetables that have been forced to conform. Back in Europe, the big supermarkets, citadels of conformity, reject fruit and vegetables that aren’t a specific size and shape and I can remember a few years ago when it was a common sight to see piles of onions on the edge of a field that farmers couldn’t sell and to which you could help yourself. If I recall, it was a kind protest by farmers against the big buyers. One of the vegetables I hate buying in Korea is the courgette-like vegetable which you only seem able to buy encased in a plastic straight-jacket. Trapped inside its constraint, every vegetable grows to exactly the same dimensions and no more. What ‘ fascist farmers’ forum’ decide on the specific dimensions of a courgette?

bent and wonky – banned by the big supermarkets

Market forces have already started killing kimchi and makgeolli. Fermentation processes, in which the development of something continues post the point of production, hinder the standardization that supermarkets encourage. It might seem an irrelevant point now, but I know several Korean women who can’t make kimchi and instead rely on their mothers for a regular supply. As for Korean men, most just about have the culinary skills to add water to  a pot of ramyon (noodles) or make a cup of coffee – with mix. Sorry guys! . When the older generation of kimchi makers have died out, I would imagine a lot of women will turn to supermarkets for their fix of kimchi and from that point the gradually numbing of taste buds will lead to shit, factory made kimchi becoming the bench mark.

MacDonald’s have done exactly the same with the noble burger. If you’ve ever had a real American burger, ‘loaded,’ you’ll know how superior they are. In the USA, I’d say most people have no idea what real chocolate tastes like after years of rape by crap like Hershey’s. British people aren’t more discerning. I once gave a class of 17-year-old British kids decent chocolate (Lindt 70% milk, Excellence) and the most common and mediocre of British chocolate (Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, around 26% chocolate), which is substantially better quality the Hershey’s ersatz chocolate. They didn’t know which was which but they mostly voted the inferior chocolate the best.  And British people are beginning to forget what real pork and bacon is like after years of abuse by pork that is pumped full of water and bacon that is similarly sodden with water and then ‘smoked’ by chemicals. Most British pork and bacon you can no longer fry as it ends up swimming in so much water they are effectively braised. Impregnation with water is what is probably going to happen with pork in Korea, which will rain torrents on samy-kyeop-sal (Korean pork barbecue) and kimchi and mekgeolli, in the hands of factory processes and supermarkets, will probably end up being similarly adulterated.

Take kimchi for example, the taste changes over anything up to several years and ‘maturation’ is greatly affected by temperature. Fermentation introduces random elements into food production that factory systems don’t like and it is safer for the image of brands to have products that are always mediocre, and hence reliable in their mediocrity, than ones where random elements occasionally deal both superb and inferior products. Most of our factory food, whether it be fast food burgers to almost anything in a supermarket, has been reduced to mediocrity. I remember when Indian restaurants in Britain all differed from each other. Not only was chicken served ‘on’ or ‘off the bone,’ choices you are never given today, but every restaurant cooked differently because the companies that were to supply all the ‘cook in sauces,’ standardise them and dominant the industry, had not yet been developed. Restaurants depended on the skills and creative talents of their chefs and eating out in an Indian was a culinary experience. I’ve even eaten curry garnished with melted silver leaf (varq) but again, you no longer see this creative addition. Standardization has killed the curry to the point crap factory products become the bench mark and preferred taste and in the process the chef is deskilled and becomes a ‘cook.’  Now, you can eat a korma in Newcastle or Cornwall and it will taste and look exactly the same – usually sickly yellow, sweet, and populated by uniform cubes of tasteless chicken.  Yes, it’s cooked in a restaurant but the components are produced by mass factory processes. Even the pickles are now mass-produced.

It was the variation and randomness of British Indian restaurants that made them so exciting and  it is currently the same variation that enlivens the experience of kimchi and makgeolli. Like most of the makgeolli type drinks you can now buy, and most of the packaged kimchi, the fermentation process has been terminated. Ten years ago, all makgeolli bottles had a hole on the top to allow the fermentation process to continue and so was packeted kimchi. Today, they are treated to kill the  micro-organisms which so miraculously collaborate to transform a pile of boring cabbage into kimchi and rice into makgeolli. You don’t really appreciate the explosive potential of makgeolli until you’ve brewed it and believe me, it can pack a punch far more powerful than champagne.

The allure of making your own makgeolli and kimchi, lies in the fascinating interplay, a kaleidoscope  of activity, that is produced when enzymes and environment collide and every production is a little different – and the difference continues to develop. And they are so very much alive; both kimchi and real makgeolli have a ‘zing’ that is absent when bottled or packeted. No matter how good a commercial makgeolli or kimchi is there is something they lack and quite simply, it is life. Homemade kimchi and makgeolli are full of ‘zeng’ (ie – ‘saeng,’ 생 -生), which is the Hanja (Character) for ‘life’ or ‘living.’ The moment you taste real kimchi or real makgeolli you taste life, it has a quality that with clinically dead food is only ever an approximation. Bottled makgeolli, boiled to death, is artificially resuscitated and put on a carbonated life support but despite the bubbles and facade of life, it is a zombie in comparison to makgeolli that has been allowed to retain its miraculous micro-organic population.

If you want kimchi that is always ever just, ‘just’ (그냥), well, the Chinese are making it in abundance. In my local Chinese store in the UK you can buy Kimchi made in the PRC that has not only been killed prior to packaging, but suitably embalmed in liquid chemical environment hostile to any micro-organic activity and then entombed in a can! And believe me, it tastes as bad as it sounds.

Kimchi and makgeolli are incredibly easy to make and doing so is fun. Homemade kimchi is much cheaper than the packet, supermarket variety and you can make around 8 liters of makgeolli from about 1.3 kilograms of rice (costing about 6000W – £6) which compared with shop bought makgeolli, is about half price. But more to the point, it is more about preserving taste and culture, than cost!

For more information on making makgeolli, visit Mister Makgeolli , and for information on making kimchi, visit: Kimchi Gone Fusion.

 Bathhouse Ballads chronicles many aspects of my life in South Korea. Kimchi Gone Fusion focuses on ‘the way of the pickled cabbage’ while Mister Makgeolli is dedicated to Korean rice wine.

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©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

Kimchi Potato Croquettes – My Recipes

Posted in Food and Drink, Kimchi Gone Fusion, My Recipes, recipes for Kimchi by 노강호 on June 24, 2011

delicious!

A local Japanese restaurant I use makes the most excellent potato croquettes and as cabbage and potato work well together, I tried combining them. The results were excellent and I ate far more than I should have done.

INGREDIENTS

Potato (approx 5 medium sized)

kimchi (finely chopped) 1 cup

1 onion (diced finely)

minari (미나리-though parsley would make an ideal substitute) Chopped.

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 egg (beaten in a bowl)

plain flour (in a bowl)

breadcrumbs (in a bowl)

oil for deep frying

Optional Fillings

Mozzarella, Brie, ham etc, even that pseudo Korean stretchy cheese

the assembled ‘balls’

METHOD

1. Boil the potatoes until cooked and then mash them over a low heat to remove moisture.

2. To the potato add the kimchi, onion, minari, sugar and soy sauce and mix together.

3. Arrange, in order, the mixture, and bowls of flour, egg and breadcrumbs

4. Taking the mixture, fashion it into  a ball a little larger than a golf ball. At this stage you can insert a cube of cheese into its center. Place each ‘ball’ on a plate until you have as many as you need.

6. Take each ball and and coat first with flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Place on a plate and complete the process with all ‘balls.’

7. Heat the oil until it is suitable for deep frying.

8. Carefully place the ‘balls’ into the oil and fry until golden brown when you can remove them onto greaseproof paper and continue with the next batch.

with a drizzle of sauce and salad

OBSERVATIONS

Mashing the potato over a low heat is crucial as removing any excess liquid stops the potato ‘balls’ falling apart.

VARIATIONS

I have also added 1 tablespoon of mushroom wine at stage 2

SERVING

Kimchi potato croquettes make an excellent snack or side dish but can easily constitute a lunch. I’ve eaten them cold and they are delicious but you can’t beat them straight from the fryer, hot and crispy. A suitable sauce, used in Japan and Korea is “Bulldog’ which is a brown sauce made with Worcester sauce. A drizzle of Terriyaki, Worcester Sauce or other brown-type sauces would be ideal but this is a matter of taste.

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©Bathhouse Ballads –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

Kimchi Bubble and Squeak – Fusion Kimchi

Posted in Food and Drink, Kimchi Gone Fusion, My Recipes, recipes for Kimchi by 노강호 on June 15, 2011

Bubble and Squeak was a favourite dinner when I was a boy and was one of those meals in which you could use various leftovers. It is an English food that along with most other typically English meals, toad in the hole, faggots, mince and onions, etc, you rarely find in a restaurant.

Here is a recipe for bubble and squeak using kimchi. As always the recipe is a template and I have provided some ideas for variations.

kimchi bubble and squeak (recipe link)

INGREDIENTS

1 pound of potatoes

salt and pepper

1 cup of chopped kimchi

water

oil (lard)

1 onion – chopped

METHOD

1. Boil the potatoes for 25 minutes, drain and mash (butter, milk, cream etc, can be added). Of course using left over potatoes is perfect. Add salt and pepper.

2. Mix the kimchi and mashed potatoes.

3. Fry the onion in a little oil in a heavy frying pan

4. Add the potato and kimchi mix to the pan and press down until it is like a cake – cook for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from the Pan onto a plate keeping the shape as much as possible. Make sure to scrape out the frazzled and burstled bits from the bottom of the frying pan. Re-oil the pan, heat, and put contents back in the pan, this time, upside down. Cook for 15 minutes.

6. Serve with an egg and/or bacon, sausages and or or with tomato, brown or Worcestershire Sauce. How about some cheese sprinkled on top or simply a sprinkling of sesame seeds and a little sesame oil. Just use your imagination.

OBSERVATIONS

My mother and grandmother never patted it down but just cooked it in the pan turning it every five minutes or so and scraping the frazzled bits, folding them into the mixture. It is the frazzled potato and cabbage which are the most enjoyable.

VARIATIONS

Bacon is a great addition at stage 3.

For a full fat version use lard in the frying process and add milk or cream and butter to the potato at stage 1.

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©Amongst Other Things –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

Kimchi Omelette – Fusion Kimchi

Posted in Food and Drink, Kimchi Gone Fusion, My Recipes by 노강호 on June 9, 2011

Key Features: easy and quick to cook, adaptable, Korean fusion, snack or fusion side dish

I’m constantly on a diet and freeze anything I might be tempted to eat when feeling peckish. So, one evening, feeling a little hungry I looked in the fridge to see what items might possibly make a quick snack. Five different pots of kimchi and a couple of eggs were all that confronted me.

So, I whisked two eggs and then added some chopped kimchi. The result was quite delicious.

MY RECIPE

1 cup = 180ml. T=tablespoon (15ml), d=dessert spoon (10ml) t=teaspoon (5ml) 

This recipe is ideal for one – double ingredients for each additional person

SHOPPING LIST

2 eggs beaten in a bowl

Half a cup of finely chopped kimchi

1t of sesame oil.

1t of sesame seeds

a little ordinary oil – just enough to stop the egg sticking to the pan

See variations and suggestions at the end of the recipe.

EQUIPMENT

Frying pan and bowl

RECIPE

1. Fry the chopped kimchi for a few minutes in a little ordinary oil.

2. Fold kimchi into the beaten egg

3. Put the mixture back in the frying pan

4. Drizzle a little sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds just before turning the omelette.

Serve with a little tomato sauce or whatever takes your fancy.

kimchi omelette

 

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©Amongst Other Things –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.