How nice to be back, it’s been a little while since I last wrote…
As were moving towards the end of Summer, we’ve been lucky to have had a mini heat wave here in London. A couple of days ago we spent a glorious afternoon on the veranda of a beautiful houseboat near Hampton Court in Surrey. It was baking hot, boats were passing, kayaks were paddled and all the kids were splashing about in the river. It was pure bliss.
With outdoor life comes also the inevitable barbecue. What’s not to love about prolonging summer a bit longer and taking the cooking outdoors? And where there is a barbecue there must be condiments in my book. I don’t believe there is anything that can’t be made better with a bit of sauce or a pickle. Which is where Korean kimchi comes in. Kimchi is the generic name for pickled vegetables in Korean and there are many different kinds – cucumber kimchi or radish kimchi for example and it is served with almost every meal regardless if its meat, fish or vegetables on the menu. The Koreans certainly understand the importance of a condiment.
Kimchi is hot, spicy and lacto fermented which means it includes the good gut bacteria we’re all after as well as vitamins A, C plus minerals calcium and iron. You can buy it ready-made in Korean supermarkets but it is a fun thing to make yourself or give away as a gift. Be prepared for a bit of prep but if you make a big batch you can store it in jars and keep for a long time. This recipe is easy and produces great tasting kimchi – make sure to check out thekitchn website for more Korean favorites.
Home made Kimchi (courtesy of thekitchn)
1 medium head Chinese cabbage
4 tbsp sea salt
Water (see Recipe Notes)
1 tablespoon grated garlic (5 to 6 cloves)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 5 tablespoons Gochugaru paste (ready-made and super spicy) or Gochugaru Korean red pepper powder (mix with a bit of water).
220g Daikon radish cut into match sticks. (I used the regular red small radishes from Waitrose but if you go to an Asian super market you’ll find Daikon there).
4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Optional: 2 tbsp fish sauce or seafood flavour water (Korean supermarkets)
- Slice the cabbage: Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. Cut each quarter crosswise into 2-inch-wide strips.
- Salt the cabbage: Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands (gloves optional), massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, then add water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.
- Rinse and drain the cabbage: Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set it aside to use in step 5.
- Make the paste: Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce/seafood flavour (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the Gochugaru (either paste of flakes), using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy. Test your way, it is quite fiery.
- Combine the vegetables and paste: Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the radish, spring onions, and seasoning paste.
- Mix thoroughly: Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here but highly recommended to protect your hands from stings, stains, and smells!
- Pack the kimchi into the jar: Pack the kimchi into the jar, pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1 inch of head space. Seal the jar with the lid.
- Let it ferment: Let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 to 5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow.
- Check it daily and refrigerate when ready: Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it’s best after another week or two.