In Korea, on the 10th moon of every year, women come together to make Kimchi for their families.
They do it on the streets in front of their homes and they do it with purpose, love and laughter.
This tradition is known as gimjang. The ‘jang’ in gimjang and ‘jang’ in ganjang, gochujang and doenjang are the same word and reflects the same basic principle of fermentation.
The magic begins!
Kimchi is composed largely of Chinese cabbage (Napa / Wombok) combined with green onions/ shallots / leeks and daikon radish and sometimes carrot or Asian pear (Nashi).
You can soak the soft cabbage first with salt and rinse well, then spread with paste or pack into a jar or crock with veggies (carrot, daikon radish, shallots /leeks) + a paste made from unrefined sugar, ginger, garlic, (optional fish sauce / kelp for Vegan) and chili powder and leave to ferment. Spices are often added for flavor and additional preservation.
Gochujang is a unique traditional fermented product.
It uses malt or red chili powder to make a sweet and spicy taste.
It is one of the most important seasonings, enjoyed by many Koreans. Gochujang stimulates the appetite, and a very important ingredient for kimchi.
It is said that if you eat Gochujang with other food it helps with digestive functions.
Also, if you eat Gochujang with meat, it is a natural digestive.
Aside from the addictive flavor, another of the factors contributing to the ubiquity of kimchi, it is ridiculously easy to make.
The following recipes, borrowed from Khiam’s mum draws on the expertise of our exchange students mum and grandma and so on.
Tongbaechu- Kim chi (a.k.a. baechu-kimchi or pogi-kimchi)
The most traditional way of fermenting cabbage kimchi is keeping the head of Napa / Lombok/ wombok, whole, making it more labor-intensive, requiring time to spread the spicy paste leaf by leaf. It includes rice flour porridge and is a staple in traditional kimchi seasoning pastes.
Adding a viscous texture, rice flour porridge acts as a binder serving as a base for the kimchi paste.
3-4 Wombok 1/2 cup salt
Porridge: 2 cups clean water, 2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour, 2 tablespoons unrefined sugar
Veggies and fruit: 2 cups daikon (cut in strips), 1 cup carrot strips, bunch of shallots, cut including some green, chives, optional Nashi pear
Seasoning: 1/2 cup blitzed garlic, 2 teaspoons minced ginger and turmeric/ 1/2 cup seaweed / fish sauce. Up to 2 cups of chili flakes / Gochugaru (Korean fermented red chili pepper flakes)
SALT THE CABBAGE
1. Trim any excess cores.
2. Split cabbage in half without tearing the inside leaves. Cut a short slit in the cabbage base. Gently pull halves apart.
3. Cut a slit through the core of each half, 2 inches above the stem. So the cabbage leaves are loose but still attached to the core.
4. Dunk the halves in a bowl of water. Sprinkle salt between the leaves by lifting each leaf. Use more salt closer to the stems (the leaves are thicker).
5. Let rest for 2 hours. Turn over every 30 minutes, to ensure even salt distribution.
6. After resting time, wash cabbages a few times with cool clean water. Whilst washing, split the halves into quarters, along the previous cut slits.
7. Cut off cores. Place in a strainer. Allow to drain well.
Whilst cabbage is salting for 2 hours, between turning times, make the porridge.
1. Combine water and sweet rice flour in a small saucepan. Mix with wooden spoon. Allow to cook over medium heat for approx. 10 minutes, until starting to bubble. Add sugar and cook for a further minute, stirring. Remove form heat and allow to cool completely.
2. Pour cooled porridge into large mixing bowl. Add garlic, ginger, seaweed and chili flakes. Mix well with wooden spoon. Until the mixture turns into a thin paste.
3. Add daikon, carrot, shallots, chives and nashi. Mix well.
1. Spread kimchi paste on each cabbage leaf. When every leaf in a quarter is covered with paste, wrap around into a small tight bundle. Lovingly place into jar, crock or onggi.
2. Over to the fermenting fairies to do the real magic!!!!
Khiam’s mama’s quick vegetarian kimchi (using sliced Wombok, sans rice porridge)
1 x organic Wombok – cut lengthwise into quarters, removing the core. Cut each quarter into wide strips. Salt cabbage with 1/4 cup Him. Salt, lightly massage and add clean water to cover. Place plate on top and weigh down. Stand for 2 hours. Rinse and drain under cool water 3 times in colander.
Drain 15 minutes.
Make paste: 1 tablespoon garlic (approx.3 small cloves – too much garlic can make the end result a tad bitter), 1 teaspoon ginger. Teaspoon rapadura
3 tablespoon water. Mix in Gochugaru 1 tablespoon makes a nice spice or up to 3 tablespoons for more fire.
Gently squeeze water from cabbage and return to clean bowl with 1 cup daikon (white radish) and carrot – both cut into even size sticks (not too thin or too thick).
Add chopped shallots / leeks or both including the green + paste.
Pack into jar, pressing down until submerged in liquid (don’t be tempted to add water). Leave head space to allow boiling and bubbling.
Leave at room temperature for 2 – 5 – 10 days, depending on fermenting cave temperature and how fast you want your kimchi to ripen.
Then, store in the fridge.
Although you can start eating at any time, kimchi needs about two weeks in the fridge to fully develop the flavor.
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