Welcome back to my Kimchi (Kimchee) school. We are entering the second session of Kimchee making. If you miss the first session, click here.
In a previous post I have explained how to soak the cabbage in the salt water solution, which is the most important part of Kimchee making. If you master that process you can graduate Kimchee school with an honor degree, the Kimchee Cum Laude.
Today I will show you how to make the cabbage stuffing.
We call the stuffing, Kimchee Soh (김치소).
They are the sidekicks of the show, which makes the look and the taste. They are the ones who makes the important final touch. Just like the impressive supporting actors or actresses who adds the real kick in the movies, this Soh makes the Kimchee to another level.
FACT : Did you know that Kimchee(Kimchi) was originally white, not red? Koreans have been making Kimchee for over 1000 years but never been spicy, which means no chilies had been used. Chilies simply did not exist in Korea. The introduction of chili pepper in the 1800’s via Japan, which was from Portugal, of whom they got it from South America, changed the look of Kimchee. Japanese didn’t care much of chili when it was introduced by Portuguese but Koreans were the one who went nuts over. We love CHILI! Thanks to South America. In fact if you look into the history of some food, you will be amazed how many are originated from S. America. Columbus did not only contributed the course of world history but he also influence the cuisines of the world. I wonder what Europeans ate before the arrival of potatoes, because every restaurant I went in Europe served fries as a side.
Ooops! my lectures has detoured to somewhat different course. Sorry! Let’s come back to our original point and begin the class. Kimchee! here we come…
Chapter II : the Sidekicks
The supporting crews of the show. anchovy sauce, sesame seeds, Korean chili flakes, sweet rice powder, sugar, shrimp sauce(salted shrimp), Korean radish, green onion, ginger, garlic, onion.
Before I tell you how to prepare the sidekicks of the show,
I need to show you my hidden jewels of Kimchee recipe.
The sea quartets!
Pollock fish, shrimps, anchovies, sea kelp, all in dried form.
You can be creative and use your own choice.
If you have access to fresh fish head (such as cod or yellow croaker),
it will make gorgeous flavor to Kimchee. Weird?
Adding these sea flavor to Kimchee is one discovery that you won’t regret to adapt.
Trust me on this.
Put them all in a pot and add about 3 cups of water.
Boil and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
You need to make this stock real intensified.
Gorgeous! Strain the stock and reserve 2 cups.
You wan to separate this into 1 1/2 C to make rice glue + 1/2C for another use.
Pour 1 1/2cups of reserved stock into the sauce pan and add 2 Tbsp sweet rice flour.
Mix and boil to thicken whisking constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Let it cool You are making the rice glue. This will make the filling to be spreadable consistency and help bond to the cabbage better.
Do not try to taste this. It is disgusting now but will raise your Kimchee to a whole different level.
Now, let’s move on.
Make your knife to be proud.
Peel off her cloth. She performs better in nude.
Slice her into 1/8″ thick.
It is okay if you made a few slices thicker or thinner. Nobody is perfect in this world.
Cut them into 1/8″ sticks, just like that.
Why, oh, why on earth am I so good at slicing?
Cut the white part of green onion in half lengthwise and slice them into 1 1/2″ long.
In a big bowl place 4 cups of Korean chili flakes and pour the rice glue.
Add the anchovy sauce,
add these alien looking shrimp sauce, aka salted shrimp.
No need to chop them. They will eventually melt in the process. Aren’t you glad?
Mix together. It will be like thick paste.
As you know, this is a garlic. They hold on each other like the United Nation.
How many lives can you get out of one head of garlic?
You count and let me know.
You will need about 10 cloves out of this pile.
This is ginger. She flew all the way from Brazil to help me out.
Ola, Como Vai, Ginger?
Cut 2″ long slice off from her and peel her with spoon. Roughly chop her.
In a blender put diced onion, garlic, ginger and the reserved 1/2 cup of stock.
Puree their lives until smooth.
Mix in to the paste.
Add sugar and sesame seeds, mix.
Take a little piece of cabbage and put some paste, EAT!
You need to test if the paste is rightly seasoned.
Depends on how much sodium level in your cabbage,
you might need to add more fish sauce or salt in this stuffing.
It should be slightly saltier than you would usually taste from other food.
Remember the radish and green onions?
Mix them into the paste. You need to let this filling sit for 30minutes so that the radish will extract their moisture and get wilted. They are too stiff to use right away.
Now the Kimchee filling is created and well rested.
If you want to be more exotic at this point, you can add fresh shrimp, or fish to the filling.
(When I mean “fresh” it means alive, not dead. They have to stare at you and crawl in front of your eyes. I couldn’t find the live crawling shrimps nor jumping fishes at any grocery stores so I skip them)
Adding fresh sea creature might sound so bizarre to you, but that puts your Kimchee to rise above all.
Many Korean home cooks add that to the winter cabbage Kimchee and everyone loves it.
My mother always put fresh, clean cod pieces in the cabbage during winter time and I remember how good her Kimchee tasted.
Some add raw oyster instead and it makes Kimchee very refreshing, that’s what we call, but you can’t store too long with oyster. They get mushy and unpleasant after a while.
Well, well, well…
I need to end my second Kimchee post right here. My buns aren’t that tired this time and my kiddos are gone to bed, but I am hungry…
I better go eat some of my Kimchee with rice.
The photo on top is my Kimchee that has been fermented for about a week in my fridge.
It is too die for…
Can’t be compared with store bought. Not even close…I will come back again in a few days with the last chapter of this process.
Thank you so much for being patient with me.
It is so cold outside, keep yourself warm. Or if you live in tropical, stay cool!