Sunday, March 20, 2011

Homemade Kimchi

For this delightful recipe, I owe the Kitchen Wench.  She was also the source (via use real butter) for the bulgogi recipe I like so much.  I guess I don't know if the kimchi recipe is delightful because I just made it today and it still has to ferment, but it smelled amazing when I was mixing it up so I'm pretty confident it's going to be a lot better than the supermarket kimchis I've been buying lately.

Before I started on the zhong zi, I actually prepped my napa cabbage.  This was pretty easy, divide the napa into quarters length wise, plunge in salty water, and then sprinkle the leaves with more salt.  There are a few things I would do differently next time.  First I would cut the kimchi into smaller pieces at this stage instead of later, because after all the water in the napa is gone it's a little harder to cut.  Second, I would probably wash off the salt a little earlier next time.  I did about 5 hours and maybe next time I'll do 4 hours since I like more crunch in my kimchi. (Ok, after tasting this I'm not changing a damn thing.  It's so good as it is).

After this, I washed the napa thoroughly in a couple washes of water and then squeezed whatever water I could from the leaves.  Then the leaves were left to drain while I made up the spice mix.  Unfortunately, when I was shopping for ingredients, I bought rice flour, thinking it was the same as the rice powder.  After perusing a few other sites, I realized that I needed sweet rice flour, which contains gluten.  Regular rice flour does not.  So, I decided to substitute all purpose flour instead, which at least has gluten.  Once mixed up, the spice mixture resembles a paste, which surprised me for some reason.  While the recipe says to blend the onion, pear and white radish into a pulpy liquid, I got very little liquid, it was mostly pulp.  I also discovered that the blender will not blend any of these things so was reduced to running through little bits at a time through my mini-food processor.

And then once all mixed up, into the jar it all went.  I was very pleased to find that it all fit into my one jar.  I had some daikon radish left over so I chopped those into small pieces and mixed them in.  I think I should have salted them like the napa, but at this point, I wasn't going to wait another several hours just to throw in a few of these guys.  The jar is currently sitting in my laundry closet, can't wait to try!

(My only fear is that the kimchi might end up being too salty.  Kitchen Wench says not to buy the chili powder that already has salt mixed in but I forgot about that when I bought mine.  Of course, mine has salt mixed in.  I haven't noticed this warning on any of the other sites so I'm hoping this will not affect the results...)

Also, I'm completely impressed that Kitchen Wench and her mom make 10 napa cabbages worth of kimchi every month.  Much props to them.

UPDATE (1 day later): I just tried a bite of the kimchi and man oh man it's good.  Definitely the right amount of salt.  I ended up having some for dinner (with Kitchen Wench's bulgogi recipe) and it was just incredible.  I'm contemplating making more kimchi this coming weekend because now I'm afraid of running out!  This recipe is perfect.

Kimchi (adapted from the Kitchen Wench)

1 head napa cabbage
1 1/2 cup salt (I don't know how much I actually used though)
4 cups water

1.  Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove the stem.  I would cut my cabbage into smaller pieces also at this point.

2.  Combine 1/2 cup of salt with the water.  Plunge the napa through, one quarter at a time, making sure the water touches everything.  Drain the water and then sprinkle salt over each leaf, focusing on the white stems.  I just had my salt next to me and pressed my fingers in the salt and then ran them over the white part of the leaves.  I figured the green parts already went through the salty water and that would be enough.

3.  Let the napa sit for 5-6 hours (I would do less next time) and then rinse the leaves in clean water a couple of times and squeeze the water out.  Let drain for 15-30 min.

Spice Mix
1 tsp sweet rice flour
1/2 cup water
1  cup Korean chili powder (gochugaru, not flakes)
1/2 cup fish sauce
2 tbs white sugar
6 green onions, sliced into 1-2" pieces
5 cloves garlic crushed 
1 knob of ginger, grated (I food processed both ginger and garlic) 
1/4 nashi pear, cored and peeled (I used bartlett)
1/4 onion
200 g white daikon radish

4.  To make the spice mix, combine the rice flour and water in a little pot and cook until the mixture is very thick.  Let cool.

5.  While the porridge is cooling, blend the garlic, ginger, pear, onion and radish together.  When the porridge is cool, add chili powder, sugar and fish sauce, then pear mix and green onions.  Combine well.

6.  Mix the napa leaves with the spice mixture with your hands, making sure all the leaves are well coated.  Press the mixture down into an airtight container and store in a cool dark place to ferment.  Make sure to leave some space on top to prevent overflow.  Taste it after 3 days, and if the leaves tastes slightly tangy, soft but with some crunch and spicy, then place in your fridge.  I haven't gotten to this part yet but I plan to taste it after 1 day to see what it is like.

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