5/2/10

Going Korean Part 1: Kimchee

In college, my friends and I frequented a little Korean restaurant called Niwana. My pal Mary Anne even worked there for a few short weeks (Come to think of it, what happened there, Mare?). We loved the place. As we waited for our entrees, they would bring us these little appetizers free of charge, one of which was always a tiny bowl of kimchee. It always tasted weird to me, vaguely rotten, but it was free so I would always eat it. (Eating free food feels like winning.) Also, some days it tasted different from other days. It was curious. I ate on. When I finally learned it was kimchee? I don't know. When I finally learned how to make it? Three days ago.

I went back to Karen Solomon's jam it, pickle it, cure it--home of the homemade marshmallows success--as her recipe seemed 100% doable.
Jam It's version:

our version:
You start with an ungodly amount of cabbage.
But don't worry. It will shrink down when you pour an ungodly amount of salt on top.
2010 is the year of fermenting for Bon Appetempt. First with the fromage blanc, second with kombucha (to come), and now with kimchee. Basically, after you sprinkle the three heads of chopped up cabbage with a cup of salt and then rinse, you mix in chopped scallions, sliced garlic, minced ginger, and a cup of Korean dried chili flakes, which we couldn't find and which we substituted with the suggested 1/3 cup cayenne pepper. Then, you wait. For up to three days, tossing every twelve hours.
We let ours ferment for about 30 hours. And I don't know if it was the cayenne substitution or my lack of Korean heritage, but this kimchee was hotter than any kimchee I've ever had. Matt ate a lot, but for me, it was borderline inedible-spicy. And I still have one more jar. Any takers?? Seriously, it will be good for another month or so.

Next up: bibimbap. Or as Matt keeps saying: to be kimchinued...
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11 comments:

ZenKimchi said...

Yeah, I think it was the cayenne. I noticed from the pictures right away that it wasn't Korean gochugaru. Gochugaru has a much coarser grind, making it a bit spongy and absorbent, and it has a different heat than cayenne--more of a delayed back of the mouth heat. For my money, Hugarian paprika is the closest substitute. The heat also subdues after a while. Fresh kimchi is usually very spicy (at least when I make it). But the best is yet to come when it gets around 2 weeks old, and you can turn the leftovers into Kimchi Jjigae.

Mary Anne said...

Kimchinued! Ahahaha...

This looks fun, delicious and easy. Nice one!

Interesting comments, ZenKimchi. That is interesting about it getting less spicy over time. So you still have hope, Amelia!

And I have done all I can to block the Niwana employment disaster from memory. Thanks for making me relapse.

Matt said...

I actually liked the heat, but the cayenne definitely changed the taste a little... made it a little weird.

amelia said...

ZenKimchi: thank you soooo much for all that info! so great to know. Am going to Google Kimchi Jjigae now.

Mary Anne: Niwana is the best restaurant in Baltimore?

Matt: you are weird.

Tracy said...

I'm not one for Korean food (because I've never really had any), but I am one for spicy and cabbage. My mom gave us a nice care-package of crabcakes and slaw yesterday. So happy to have cabbage to go home to. Your post sparked my appetite, sincerely.

Mary Anne said...

Whoa, ZenKimchi actually brought back a good memory of my tenure as a Niwana employee--that's never happened before. I googled Kimchi Jjigae, and I think that's what the cooks would serve all the staff every night after the restaurant closed. They always cooked up this big stew and we all ate it family style at a big table, and it was sooooo spicy I could hardly eat it (but always did. Because it was free. Something Amelia understands).

sara said...

color me impressed because korean cooking scares me like no other cuisine. i'm not sure why, i just feel overwhelmingly certain that i would screw it up.

Jenny Ryan said...

OK woman...I am gonna get some Koren chili to you. It was the cayenne that was the problem for sure. Oh btw I'm a friend of Wendy Jung & Cathy Callahan's (who turned me on to your awesome blog). I'll give Wendy some to bring into work...it is so amazingly delicious you will huff it like a teenager huffs paint!

amelia said...

Jenny:
1. thanks so much!
2. Korean chili?! that sounds amaaaazing!!
3. wendy and cathy are awesome.

Heather Taylor said...

this sounds like such a fun project and considering kimchee is one of alejandro's favorite foods, I'll have to make. this is impressive, bon appetempt!!

Megan Taylor said...

woah food looks great! p.s. haven't read "reading rilke" but it sounds right up my alley! now i can't wait to pick it up! have you read "Letters on Cezanne" by Rilke? It's so good! xoxoxo