Chuck Hayes, Newborn, Georgia - [email protected]
I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll just say it….I LIKE STINKY FOOD. In particular I love kim chee (or kimchi). It doesn’t necessarily smell bad, just strong (my wife will disagree---I can’t even open up a jar of the stuff inside the house without her getting on to me). It is so pervasive in Korean culture that the Korean government has named it a national treasure. The basic recipe for kim chee consists of vegetables pickled in a solution of garlic, salt, and red chili peppers. Not so many years ago in Korea, and even in modern times, the kim chee is stored outside in large clay jars called tokes.
The combination of garlic, salt, carrot, ginger, green onion, Napa cabbage and fermentation in the recipe below make for a joyous experience (think kicked up sauerkraut!). Korean food as a whole is the most glorious, flavorful, vibrant, tantalizing, exciting, colorful experience one can have with their stomach. What it lacks in the overall PRETTY presentation of Japanese food it definitely makes up for in taste and texture. The Japanese have food styling down like nobody’s business, but the whole sweet/sour/salty/spicy thing is ruled by the Koreans and not the Thai (as most “experts” like to point out). Step out on a limb. Be adventurous and leave your comfort zone.
KIM CHEE RECIPE
• 6 lbs Napa cabbage
• ¼ cup Kosher salt
• 8 green onions, green tops only, sliced at an angle
• 1 ½ cups shredded carrot
• 2 Tb grated fresh ginger
• 2 Tb garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 2 tsp sugar
• ½ cup Korean red pepper flakes (can be found in any Asian market)
• 1 Tb Kosher salt
Remove limp outer leaves from the cabbage and quarter the head lengthwise, then cut across the quarters into 1 ½ inch-wide pieces.
Put cabbage in a VERY large bowl and add the kosher salt. Toss to coat. Allow to stand for 30 minutes (tossing a few times). Rinse the cabbage with cold water and drain well.
Toss with the remaining ingredients and pack tightly (push it down if you have to) into a large crock or left over half gallon pickle jar. Add water to cover (about 3 cups). Screw top on lightly to allow the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation process to escape.
Allow to sit on counter for 1 or 2 days (I prefer 2 days for a “stronger” flavor). Screw the top down tightly then store it in the fridge. It will keep for MONTHS.