Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Making kimchi is easier than you would think

Granny Choe lays out kimchi ingredients: Nappa cabbage, onions, mustard greens, daikon, ginger, garlic, chile powder, sugar, salt.

Machine Project hosts some of the best food events, usually at really affordable prices. With Boingboing's Mark Frauenfelder and Homegrown Evolution's Kelly Coyne and Eric Knutzen organizing with an assist from SlowFoodLA, the Krautfest 2009 was destined for cabbagey awesomeness.
Here's Mark's report on BoingBoing. I couldn't make the kraut part, so I showed up to learn how to make my own kimchi.
Kimchi expert Granny Choe and her daughter showed us how it's done.
  • The night before, you have to submerge the leaves from a Nappa cabbage in salted water. The next morning, you drain them.
  • Slice them up into about 1" slices into a large bowl. Now mix in some chopped scallions or onions, a cup of chopped mustard greens and a handful of shredded daikon if you like.
  • Pound or pulverize an entire head of peeled garlic cloves and mix it with about an inch section of grated ginger, two teaspoons non-iodized salt, a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of pulverized cooked white rice and a cup of water. Pour that mixture over the cabbage.
  • Now pour in a cup of powdered Korean red chile pepper. You need to get this at the Korean market -- cayenne pepper or Mexican chile powder is not the right stuff.
  • Mix it all up, and it already looks like bright red kimchi ( above left). You can taste it, it's already pretty good before it even ferments. But you're not done yet. Like with yogurt or bread, you'll need some starter. Mix in a few tablespoons of kimchi from the store, or ideally from your last batch, to get the fermentation going.
  • Now put it into a closed container (a big jar like the one at right is good) and leave it in a kitchen cupboard for a day (maybe two if it's chilly out). Put it in the fridge after two days, and voila, you've got kimchi! It's pretty forgiving stuff -- you can try out all kinds of different ingredients, and it will last for quite a while in the fridge, getting more and more fermented. Granny Choe says it's the interplay of the chile, garlic and onions that makes the magical kimchi juice. I left out the pulverized rice and daikon, but mine tastes just fine.
Have you ever made kimchi? Did you do anything differently from this class?

This Saturday and Sunday is another great SlowfoodLA food workshop at Machine Project -- you can learn how to make bread and pizza dough Saturday, and then build a pizza oven and bake it on Sunday.


Doran said...

Pat, you've made my culinary week with this post. Thanks!

Delicious Coma said...

It was nice meeting you on Sunday, Pat!

Here's my write-up of the event, including the sauerkraut making: Krautfest '09.

lynn said...

have never made kimchi - i dunno if my fridge has room for it!

Mr. Homegrown said...

Hey Pat,

Thanks for coming and many thanks for putting the recipe up!

LeisureGuy said...

Isn't "Napa" spelling with a single "p"?

Unknown said...

I use miso to help my Kimchi ferment. I also scour the farmers market for interesting additions like seasonal Asian greens. The last batch I made cracked the gallon jar in the fridge. Must have been too good:-)

Unknown said...

Just made kimchi at home for the first time a week and a half ago. Didn't use anything as a starter, just presoaked vegetables in salt water then submerged them in brine after adding spices. Used chopped serrano and habanero peppers and seeds instead of chili powder. Fermented about a week, then transferred to the fridge. Still eating it.