Friday, December 31, 2010

Kimchi


My camera lens broke this last week, so I am working with limited material here. It is a shame because I have been cooking up a storm for several catered dinner parties, and would love to share what has come out! I am taking a break as we speak from preparing a Thai New Years Eve dinner for a group of 12 neighbors and friends. I can still smell the lemongrass on my fingers. Yum.

Oh well, it gives me a chance to share my kimchi recipe which I was hesitating to do. This is not a recipe for everyone, in fact, it literally scares Gregg, so I recognize that some of you will be excited while others will be completely uninterested. But maybe, just maybe, you will give it a try and be pleasantly surprised.

I remember when my landlord in Santa Cruz brought over my now kimchi container as a gift and I was so excited at my beautiful new piece for "when we bring soup to a potluck". Gregg looked at me as though I had lost my mind. Turns out I don't actually bring soup to too many potlucks, but now it has grown into a new role of housing saurkraut and kimchi production. Perfect.

Kimchi is a fermented condiment used in Korea. Simular to saurkraut, it contains potent probiotic properties (good bacteria) that aid digestion and help keep our internal flora healthy and ready to protect against foreign invaders. It has a very strong flavor and is meant to be enjoyed in small quantities as a component of larger meals. Completely raw, it is loaded with energetic enzymes, Beta-carotene (which our bodies turn into Vitamin A) and Vitamin C. As a cruciferous vegetable, cabbage has been shown to protect against a wide range of cancers as well as possess the ability to lower cholesterol levels. The remaining ingredients are pretty flexible so feel free to tailor it to your personal taste.


Fermented vegetables typically need 3 weeks to fully process, although they can sit for much longer. Most say that the flavor develops with time and advocate for longer fermentation periods, although I believe it is completely to taste and worth testing at different points.

Kimchi

Ingredients
1 medium head of Napa Cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, grated
1 bunch scallions, finely sliced
6 inch piece of daikon radish, grated
1 inch piece ginger, grated with a microplane
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs. sea salt

Directions
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Fill a large ziploc bag with water and seal tight. Place on top of mixed vegetables and cover with something heavy-ish (to apply downward pressure). Let rest for 15-20 minutes, or until you notice that the vegetables have released their juices and are mostly submerged. If this does not seem to be happening naturally, use a meat hammer to pound the vegetables to encourage them along.


At this point, transfer kimchi to a large bottle with a tight sealing lid (a 1/2 gallon mason jar works well). Press down firmly to submerge the vegetables in their own juices. Cover tightly and store at room temperature for 3 weeks or longer. Once it has reached your optimal flavor, store in the fridge and enjoy a little bit each day.

Save some of the liquid from each batch and use it in the next batch to spur the lacto-fermentation. This way you can use less salt without running the risk of bacteria taking over before the lacto-acid has a chance to build up.

Relax. Eat Well.

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