If my former co-workers could see me now. Back when I was a computer programmer, I was best buddies with two other women in my office. We would eat lunch together every day, whether brown bagging it or visiting local eateries nearby our office in Rockville, MD. We were inseparable. And we always started off the day by saying hello, asking how everyone was doing, and then discussing what we'd do for lunch. Without fail. One of those women was Korean. She often talked about kimchi but I was never game for trying it and now I'm regretting that decision. Immensely.
I don't know what was holding me back. People warned me about it. I guess there was that. And the smell IS pretty strong. But now I think it just smells amazing. Kind of like that quirky friend that you have that you love BECAUSE she's quirky.
This kimchi has been on my It List. The stuff I can't get enough of. You know you're off the deep end when you grab a bag of tortilla chips and the jar of kimchi. No, you know you've got it bad when you just grab the kimchi jar AND A FORK!
I'm not ashamed to admit that I've done both.
It doesn't take much to make this pungent condiment either. A few simple ingredients, a bit of massaging the mixture, and time.
I brought a small jar to bring to the Masters at my son's Taekwondo studio, who are all Korean, and I got smiles and big thumbs up from them.
This stuff is REALLY good.
Kimchi may not be for everyone but I've been a fermentation freak this year with something always bubbling away on my counter or stored in my refrigerator.
My family doesn't always like to sit with me when I eat the kimchi by the jar... the smell is too strong for them.
The first few times I ate it, Mike wrinkled his nose at it.
It wasn't until he had a small amount on top of a Korean BBQ taco at a food truck in DC did he become a believer (he LOVED it!).
He's not as hooked as I am but he has an appreciation for it within this context. So for our taco night this week I made him and myself Korean BBQ tacos (his with beef and mine with tofu - that's how we roll around here). All topped with a spicy, chile- garlic-ginger-soy sauce, cilantro, and Sriracha sauce.
Adapted from Sarah at My New Roots
1 large or 2 average heads of Napa cabbage (my cabbage was labelled Korean cabbage at my int'l market but Napa is widely available)
1 daikon radish
5 large carrots
1 bunch spring onions (about 7)
70 g fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Korean chile powder (crushed red chili flakes work too)
¼ cup good-quality sea salt
1. Wash all veggies. Chop cabbage into 1-2" chunks, julienne or grate carrots and daikon. Slice green onion. Place all vegetables in a very large bowl.
2. In a food processor blend ginger, garlic, and chili until well combined. Add this mixture to the bowl of vegetables along with the salt.
3. Massage and mix all ingredients together until the cabbage begins to soften and release fluid. Continue for about 5 minutes or until the cabbage has released liquid in the bottom of the bowl. The vegetables will have have lost much of their volume by this point. Let the bowl sit out at room temperature for a few hours, massaging once or twice more. Season to taste.
4. Pack the vegetables into a large sterilized jar, or several smaller ones, trying to avoid any air pockets. Make sure to leave an inch or two of space at the top of the jar for the release of carbon dioxide. Loosely cover the jar with a lid, or make sure to open it periodically to release any pressure that may build up. Leave the jar on the counter for 3-5 days. You may see bubbles forming in the jar – this is carbon dioxide and totally normal. Taste the kimchi each day. You'll notice the flavors change with each passing day. When the flavor is to your liking, close the lid and refrigerate. Keeps for several months.