Elwood 5566

Cabbage Kimchi (Sun-hee version) My Recipes

Posted in Food and Drink, it's kimchi time, Kimchi Gone Fusion, My Recipes by 노강호 on January 6, 2012

‘Kimjang’ – the Korean kimchi making season between mid November and December

Without doubt, cabbage kimchi is the most important item in the Korean kitchen. Not only is it an important side dish, accompanying most meals, but essential base in a number of other recipes. Kimchi is a ‘keynote,’ a defining feature of Korean culture and mastering its production will gain you much respect in the eyes of Koreans. There are not only geographical variations on the recipe, but family and personal ones and homemade kimchi is infinitely superior to that bought in supermarkets. This recipe was taught to me by my friend Sun-hui (순희) and it has proved to be a very successful.

Key Features: very healthy / relatively easy to make/ an essential Korean food

MY DEFINITIVE RECIPE

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

SHOPPING LIST

1 large Chinese leaf cabbage (Napa) weighing about about 1.25 kilograms

I cup of mooli (무)

0.5 cup of red pepper powder (고추가루)

2T rice flour

0.25 cup of Fish sauce (액젓) plus more if required

24 cloves of crushed garlic

1. inch piece of fresh root ginger, grated

1cup of chives or wild leek (실파/부추)

0.75 cup of salt (sea salt, kosher, rock, 호렴)

1d Sugar

3 cups of water

Kimjang in Cheonan

SUBSTITUTES IF YOU’RE LIVING IN THE UK

Mooli can be substituted with white turnip but I would grate it rather than dice it.

Red pepper powder must be Korean (고추가루) and not chili powder.

Rice flour can be replaced with standard flour and many Koreans use this in Korea.

Fish sauce (액젓) can be either anchovy (멸치) or sand-lance (까나리) but Thai type squid sauces will suffice.

Chives are best but wild leek is better and after these small spring onions without the bulbs.

Salt – sea salt (Maldon) and rough salt such as rock salt or kosher salt are highly important. Table salt is totally ineffective at wilting the cabbage leaves!

EQUIPMENT

A large plastic basin

A plastic Tupperware type container

Possibly a muslin type bag

Rubber gloves

SALTING

  1. If the cabbage is a large one, cut it lengthwise into quarters and wash it. Then chop the cabbage into pieces about 1 wide and a few inches long. Wash the chopped cabbage and drain. Next dice the mooli into small pieces approx an inch square and a quarter of an inch thick and add them to the cabbage. Put the mixture in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and then and 1.5 cups of water. Fold the mixture, pat down firmly and leave for about 12 hours turning once after six hours or so. 12 hours should ensure the cabbage is fully wilted but often it is ready much earlier than this. You should notice the volume of cabbage reduces by about half as wilting occurs.

PREPARING THE PASTE

When the cabbage is ready, wash it three times in clean water and thoroughly drain. I use a muslin bag for this process so I can squeeze out excess water. This process ensures the paste doesn’t become too watery though some people prefer it such. Set the cabbage aside.

2. Chop the chives into pieces about an inch long

3.  Crush the garlic and chop the ginger into small slivers.

4.  In a large plastic bowl, put the:

Red pepper powder (0.5 cup)

Chives (1 cup)

Ginger

Garlic

0.25 of a cup of fish sauce

sugar (1d)

5. Mix the flour in a little cold water and then heat a pan containing 1.5 cups of water. Add the flour mixture to this and stir until it is starts to boil. The flour paste needs to be the consistency of porridge so add more flour as required. When ready add this to the ingredients in the large bowl.

6. Mix the ingredients with a spoon and then, when you are not in danger of scalding, with your hands (you might want to wear rubber gloves for this process).

7. Add the cabbage mixture to the paste and thoroughly fold them together.

8. You can now taste the kimchi and if necessary add additional fish sauce to increase the saltiness. I hold back on using 0.5 of a cup to allow me more control over saltiness.

9. Put the kimchi in a Tupperware type container and pack down firmly to remove air pockets.

Kimchi does not need to be fermented and many people prefer kimchi when it is fresh. However, fermentation will begin immediately, indeed it has already begun. It can be kept in part of the fridge where it won’t freeze though you can leave it in room temperature for a few days to speed up fermentation. The lid will pop off the tub every day as gases build up but the smell grows on you!

Kimchi keeps for a very long time and even after a year it has its uses. Personally, I have used kimchi older than a year and have read of people using kimchi that was 3 years of age. My year old kimchi had a small layer of mold on the top but this washed off.  Aged kimchi, tart and sour, is a delicious basis for kimchi stew (kimchi jjim – 김치 찜) and far superior to fresh kimchi.

delicious..

ON GOING NOTES

None! The recipe is perfected!

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© 努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

It’s Kimchi Time – Killing the Kimchi

Posted in Food and Drink, it's kimchi time, seasons by 노강호 on November 9, 2011

Over the years I’ve had several temper tantrums which have resulted in my wrecking some valuable possessions. I’m not ashamed as I usually only ever lose my temper with objects, this being preferable to losing it with people, and the tantrum is never public. That I will talk to inanimate objects during a tantrum certainly curtails where they occur. The catalogue of damages is extensive: I’ve axe kicked a television, stabbed a pair of Japanese sai into a DVD player, wrapped a Gemeinhardt flute around the leg of a table, kicked to death a hard-drive that was being lazy and a thumped a laptop which used the Vista system. Let’s face it! Microsoft’s Vista deserved a more humiliating and public demise and after being forced to spend around £120 to purchase the latest Word package (it wouldn’t work with earlier ones), I am totally in favour of pirating anything Microsoft.  I remember the days before Gates got totally greedy, when Word was a standard part of the Windows operating system. But I’m digressing…

Sun-hee. My kimchi guru

Recently however, I’ve taken my tantrums out on kimchi that hasn’t wilted properly when doused with salt. A few weeks ago a cabbage that refused to wilt was given a stern talking to before being savagely torn to shreds. This weekend I got so annoyed with a badly behaved Napa that I ripped it apart and then cursing, dumped half a sack of salt on the remains. I realised, as about 4 kilograms of salt was burying the cabbage, that this was overkill and such a quantity was likely create a meltdown rather than encourage some wilting but in the heat of the monent all rationality evaporates. Later in the day, I met some friends who taking pity on my endeavours, came to my one room armed with two large cabbages and a new bag of salt.

preparing cabbages for salting

There is no doubt that salting cabbage is the most problematic part of the kimchi making and yet in so many recipes the process is treated with such abandon you’d think a cabbage liable to wilt the moment the salt is brought into the same room. For the last few months I’ve made kimchi every weekend making small amendments to the previous week’s recipe or trying entirely different ones. This weekend I’d tried a recipe from a very well-known western chef who soaked his cabbages in water in which two cups of salt had been dissolved. Unfortunately, despite using the correct type of salt, the cabbages were fresher after twenty-four hours soaking than they were when I’d immersed them. The problems of salting are well documented on sites such as Maangchi where there are numerous comments on both inadequate wilting and excessively salty kimchi.

The most effective wilting method I’ve used is rubbing coarse salt into each leaf  and while this produces the quickest response, the process is tedious. Coarse salt, such as Kosher or sea salt are  imperative as a Napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage), is impervious to even the largest quantities of table salt. I usually make kimchi with quartered cabbages whereas Sun-hee’s chopped one large cabbage, around 1 kilogram, before folding  3/4 of a cup of coarse salt through it. Rather than grate mooli (무)  as I usually do, she then added about 2 cups cubed. After tossing the mixture, it was firmly pressed down and left to stand over night. I was then instructed to ‘stir’ it in the morning and leave it for a further hour after-which it was to be washed three times.  Not only was this salting process superior to other methods I’ve used, but it used less salt. Consequently, the taste of the prepared cabbage wasn’t salty which meant the actual saltness could be easily controlled by how much ‘fish sauce’ was added in the final part of the paste making process.

Chun-hee and Sun-hee. Spot the makeolli!

I’ve also discovered that using dried chillies to make you own pepper powder (고추 가루) can be problematic. The dried chillies I bought are slightly smaller than the ones I usually see and are thus hotter. Consequently much less is required to make kimchi paste. I recently used only half a cup powder for one large cabbage (1kg). While my latest kimchi is tasty it has lost the vigorous, rich red colour and I intend to return shop bought chili powder in the future.

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

It’s Kimchi Time – April 26th 2011

Posted in Food and Drink, it's kimchi time by 노강호 on April 26, 2011

This batch of kimchi turned out to be a further improvement on my technique. My cabbages were large and I have since been told that the best cabbages are not the largest, but ideally more middle sized ones.

3 large Chinese leaf cabbages (Napa)

washing the cabbages

Preparation –  Unless the outer leaves are very damaged or spoiled, keep them as they are excellent for use in bean paste soup and numerous other recipes.

slightly damaged leaves can be kept for other uses

Salting – The salting process was very speedy, perhaps three of four hours after-which the cabbages had reduced by almost half, become rag-like and capable of being wrung without tearing. Coarse salt (굵은 소금) is vital and sea salt the most preferable as table salt is ineffective in wilting the cabbages.This brand of salt has currently been the most effective.

if the right type of salt isn’t used wilting won’t occur

table salt is ineffective

coarse salt is best, preferably sea salt

the leaves after salting

in successful wilting there is around a 50% reduction in bulk

wilted – floppy and rag, like, can be bent without breaking, can be wrung like a dish-cloth

Pasting – I usually add ginger but decide to omit it from this batch. Further, I reduced the amount of down to 2 cups but I feel this is still too hot. When I later made bo-ssam kimchi, I decided that one cup for two fairly large cabbages was still a little to hot and intend reducing it a little more.

the paste ready to go

pasting the segments

ready to ‘pack’

For the most up to date and effective recipe for Kimchi, check My Recipes.

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

More Tips on Cabbage Kimchi

Posted in Food and Drink, it's kimchi time by 노강호 on February 16, 2011

‘decanted’ after over two months and deliciously sour

I am now quite proud of my cabbage kimchi, a skill which has taken me about ten years to get right. One reason why it takes a long time to make decent kimchi is that you have to develop a sense of what constitutes a good kimchi and an awareness of kimchi at different stages of fermentation. Unless you have a cultivated appreciation of what Kimchi is, and by that I mean an awareness of kimchi that a Korean would enjoy and not what you personally think it should taste like, your kimchi will never be authentic. The subtleties of kimchi are as intricate and extensive as wine or Indian curry  and an appreciation is important if you are to use a recipe to guide you.

There exist many recipes for cabbage kimchi, regional, personal and for accompanying certain meals; bo-ssam (boiled, sliced pork, 보쌈) for example, uses a special type of kimchi. I am concerned here with the standard type of kimchi that accompanies the majority of Korean foods and which can be divided into two categories, fresh and sour.  There is of course, a range of flavours in between these extremes. Many Koreans have a preference for one or the other and foods which use kimchi as a major constituent, as for example with kimchi stew (김치 찌개 or 김치찜), suit one or the other.

scary yes, but tasty

I’m told by Korean friends that big cabbages are not the best to use and that medium sized ones, which compared to Britain are enormous, are the most suitable. The outer leaves are trimmed and unless damaged these shouldn’t  be thrown away as they can be used in other recipes.

One of the most persistent problems I faced was the most crucial; namely getting the salting process right. Even cook books sometimes overlook what is a seemingly simple procedure. When the prepared cabbages are ready to paste with your kimchi paste mix, they should resemble a dishcloth by which I mean they should be floppy and it should be possible to wring them without them tearing. If you get your kimchi paste wrong you can always adjust it. Even if you subsequently discover your kimchi is too salty it will mellow as it ferments but should the kimchi fail to wilt properly it will not be easily rescued.

Many recipes gloss over the salting process and only this week I read Jennifer Barclay’s book, Meeting Mr Kim (Summersdale, 1988). The book is an interesting account of life in Korea and not a cookbook, but her kimchi recipe, and she is not alone, simply directed you to soak the cabbages in salted water. If as recipe does not explain the salting process in some detail, tread with caution!  I once used an entire big bag of table salt in which I soaked the cabbages for several days and they still failed to wilt effectively. The salting process is actually simple if you use a coarse type of salt  (such as sea salt or if in Korea  굵은 소금)) and sprinkled between the leaves is all that is required to wilt the leaves in several hours, depending on room temperature. When I make kimchi in the UK, I am forced to use cabbages which are almost white in colour, very stemmy, and which are too small to quarter but even these wilt if treated properly. After salting the washed and wet cabbages they can be placed in a bowl or sink, sprinkled with extra salt and a few cups of extra water and left. Immersing them in water isn’t necessary. In hot weather the wilting process is much quicker. You should notice the cabbages almost half in volume and soon become limp, floppy and wringable.

Bo-ssam (보쌈) uses a different type of kimchi

Like rice, traditionally, Koreans rinse the cabbage three times. I have learnt it is much better to rinse them thoroughly, perhaps removing too much salt but this can always be remedied later. However, if you use the correct ammount of salt and don’t sprinkle excess on, three rinses are adequate. You can feel where salt residue remains as the stems are slimy and you can remove these by simply rubbing your fingers over them.

Salty kimchi will mellow with fermentation, it is probably better for it to be not salty enough than too salty, especially given the concerns over salt and blood pressure. One hint Mangchi suggests is adding some thin slices of mooli (무) if it is overly salty.

A good kimchi paste will cling to the leaves like a sauce so it is prudent to drain the segments and even wring  water out and this will prevent your kimchi becoming watery as the cabbages ferment.

Pork kimchi stew (김치찜) – works just as well with mackerel

Plenty of recipes, online and in books, will guide you through making the paste but my all time favourite is Maangchi. Her website is enormous and her videos on Korean cooking are well presented. Here you will also find other ways to use kimchi as well as many other types of kimchi, cabbage and otherwise.

British friends who have since become lovers of kimchi often ask me how long it will keep. I tend to keep kimchi in the refrigerator in hot weather and somewhere cold, but not freezing, in winter. If you like kimchi fresh (newly made,) keeping it cool or cold will delay fermentation. If you like it sour then you can use a warm  place to speed up the process. I tend to juggle things in order to better control fermentation. I made my last batch of kimchi in November and the tub in which it is stored has stood on my balcony almost 6 months. I have now moved it to the bottom of my fridge to mellow indefinitely. I have used kimchi that was over 6 months old and which had white mold on the top but this washed off and the underlying cabbage was excellent as the basis for a stew.

For my up to date and effective Kimchi recipe, check the, My Recipes, page.

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

Basic Kimchi Recipe (adapted for those living in the UK)

Posted in My Recipes, Quintesentially Korean, recipes for Kimchi by 노강호 on February 13, 2011

the taste of a nation

I have a number of friends and family in the UK, most notably my sister, who have been asking me to give them a kimchi recipe despite there now being many great recipes available on the Internet. So, I have written up a recipe I use when in the UK where I can’t always get authentic ingredients and I need to make substitutions.

There are many different cabbage kimchi recipes encompassing different styles to regional variations. The fact kimchi is so varied makes it exciting and without doubt, everyone who makes kimchi does so slightly different from someone else. For Koreans, when mum makes kimchi, and I’ve only met a few men who can make it, their hands invest it with love.  This is the recipe I use for what is basically a straight forward kimchi comprising the basic ingredients.

Kimchi is very easy to make but it helps if you have some knowledge of how decent kimchi tastes so you are able to assess your endeavours and make adjustments to improve future attempts.

There are 9 basic ingredients:

Cabbage – Chinese leaf (called napa in the US). In the UK places like Tesco sell these but they are white, small and very stemmy. You will need 4 of these.

Mooli – once again this sometimes appear in supermarkets though they are small, skinny and bendy. Turnips, 3 0r 4 make a suitable alternative.

A whole bulb of garlic.

An inch or so of ginger. (I often omit this)

A bunch of chives or spring onions. (the type of onion Koreans use I have not seen in the UK)

Rice flour, though I have used plain flour. Not all recipes use this but I prefer paste slightly clingy)

Fish sauce – in the UK Thai Nam Pla is fine including ‘Squid’ brand.

Salt, like a whole box or packet. You will need Kosher salt or sea salt and not table salt.

Korean red pepper powder. You cannot substitute this but I have ordered it with easy in British Oriental supermarkets.

A good size plastic tub – like a Tupperware tub.

(Sugar – not all recipes use this)

Stage 1 cabbage preparation

Without any doubt the most neglected part of recipes on kimchi involve salting, and hence wilting the cabbages. All my early failures at kimchi making resulted from recipes that failed to explain this process. Getting this right is crucial but it is very simple.

1. Immerse cabbages in water. Then trim off discoloured bases, remove any bad leaves, and using a good knife begin to cut the cabbage in half from the base. Once about a third of the way into the cabbage, remove the knife and then simply tear the cabbages in half. If you have large cabbages you would in fact quarter them in this manner but if they are the small ones I’d simply half them.

Let the cabbages drain but don’t dry them.

Double check your using sea salt! Lay the cabbage half on its back, and then begin sprinkling salt on the lowest leaf, on the inside. You’ll need to raise the rest of the cabbage up to access it and at times, with a small cabbage, you can hold it in the palm of your hand and finger the leaves apart. Make sure you sprinkle salt into the base area where stems are thickest. You don’t need lots of salt, just a good pinch for each leaf. This process is finicky with small cabbages.

salting the cabbage

When all salted, put the cabbages in a bowl, throw a handful of salt over the top and then add a cup or two of water. Then simply leave them until wilted which may be between 2 hours to over night depending on the temperature. Turning them a few times during salting is useful.

leave for several hours or overnight

How do you know when the cabbages are ready to paste? First they will have reduced in volume considerably and the container will contain a lot more water. Most importantly, the cabbages should be limp and floppy j.  A good test is to wring one and it should wring just like a cloth, without tearing.

suitably wilted so that it is limp and like a wet cloth

Next, rinse them 3 times. To prevent the kimchi being too salty, you can immerse cabbages in water and feel where excess salt is as it will have a slimy feel. Simply remove this with your fingers. Make sure you wash between the leaves.

Finally, wring them to remove excess water which will otherwise dilute your paste. The cabbages are now ready to paste.

Stage 2 Preparing the other ingredients.

Grate the mooli (white turnips) and squeeze any fluid from them

grate the ginger

crush the garlic

chop the spring onions (chives)

Mix 2 tablespoons of rice flour (or plain flour) in a little cold water, until it is a runny paste, then add this to a pan containing 1 and a half cups of water. Heat this until it begin to boil, stirring it constantly and adding any additional water until it resembles porridge. As it begins to boil you can add a 1 tablespoon of sugar but this is optional. The ‘porridge’ provides some body to the paste and many Koreans do not use it. Personally, I quite like a thicker paste on kimchi though not too long after fermentation, the paste will have become diluted regardless.

Stage 3 making the paste

Put the rice flour porridge in a large bowl

Add half a cup of fish sauce

3 cups of red chili powder

Add garlic, ginger, onion and mooli

Mix them all together into  a paste being careful not to burn your fingers on the porridge mix.

Stage 4 pasting up the leaves

kimchi pasting

This process is almost the same as salting the leaves; lay each cabbage on its back and staring with the inside lowest leaf, paste on the mixture. Any leftover paste I simply spread over the top unless there is a lot when I might freeze it for later use. Segments should be placed in a Tupperware container with each segment being laid in a head-tail-head order. They pack better this way.

Some General Points

Where to store kimchi – basically, if  it’s summer in the fridge and if winter, somewhere cold but not freezing. Kimchi ferments and as it does so the taste is altered. Part of the fun in making kimchi is in controlling the fermentation so you keep your batch in the condition in which you best enjoy it.

Fermenting kimchi – You can eat kimchi immediately. Prior and during fermentation, kimchi has a very fresh taste where individual ingredients are distinct.  The kimchi will also be lively in colour. At this stage the kimchi can be salty but as fermentation and infusing continues, saltiness is lost. Some saltiness or even heat (spiciness) can be compensated with some additional sugar. If it has lost saltiness you can adjust this at this stage. Stems may still be slightly firm and thick stems may still have a little crunch left in them despite being wilted.  Be prepared for some bad smells during this period. Fermentation can last up to  a week depending on temperature and in comfortable room temperature (21 degrees) you can expect the lid of the Tupperware container to pop open about once every 24 hours. I’ve slept in the same room as fermenting kimchi and no longer find the aroma unpleasant but the released gasses will easily scent a room with what some will consider a very unpleasant smell.

Fermented kimchi – individual flavours are much less distinguishable, saltiness is reduced and the paste has probably thinned and increased considerably.  Don’t worry; this is delicious in stews and soups. I often make minor adjustment to saltiness and sweetness.

Aged Kimchi – aged kimchi draws your mouth with its sourness and if you appreciated this type of kimchi, there is a point, which differs for each ‘connoisseur,’ where the balance of saltiness, acidity, and sweetness combine to provide an exquisite taste.    I often add a little sugar or salt to this kimchi in order to balance the mixture exactly as I like it however; it never produces the same sensation as it does when the balance is naturally right.  Aged kimchi is slightly yellower in colour and the stems slightly translucent. What aged kimchi might lack in lustre is compensated by its mature taste.

Once you know how you like kimchi you can move your Tupperware pot in order to slow down or suspend fermentation. After the kimchi has stopped releasing gas, it will continue to mellow but at a much slower rate and during winter months or when it is kept in a cool place or the fridge, the taste will differ very little over several months.

Very old kimchi, over six months might have mould on the surface but don’t throw it away; wash the mould of the top segments and the kimchi is still edible but much better for use in stews.

 

kimchi  segments packed head to tail style

If you can obtain minari, as you can in Korea, a bunch of this, chopped can be added along with the spring onion, garlic and ginger.

Good luck and don’t be afraid to experiment as you gain experience!

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.