Kimchi Making #3
No matter how festive Korean meals are, how fancy everything looks, if there is no Kimchee on the table, then, that Korean feast is not completed. That’s how important our Kimchee is.
There are over 200 different types of Kimchee. Every region in Korea has developed their unique way of making it with different ingredients. This version of cabbage Kimchee method is good for winter time when the cabbages are in good season so that Kimchee can be stored through the winter.
In 2008, Health Magazine announced Kimchee (Kimchi) as one of the 5 world’s healthiest foods. According to the recent study the good bacteria called “Lactobacilli” in Kimchee help digestions in the body and prevents yeast infection, even the growth of cancer. However Kimchee has its weakness as well, the sodium intake and the spiciness. Using the solution of 1:10 (salt : water) ratio over a long period time rather than burying the cabbages in the salt directly will keep the sodium level on just right amount.
What is good Kimchee like? The texture. It should be crunch and cool. Good Kimchee should not be too salty nor spicy. Even Koreans won’t eat if the Kimchee is too spicy. Sometimes red chili flakes from Mexico yields strong spiciness. Chinese chili flakes tends to be darker in color, which means less appealing in the eyes, and not as flavorful as Korean origin.
Also You should be able to taste the pungent flavor in the mouth that is almost unforgettable if you never tried Kimchee before. Once you get used to the flavor, you are hooked. You will crave the flavor.
Welcome back to my final episode of Kimchee class. We are going to wrap up our cabbages to make scrumptious Kimchee.
Remember the Kimchee filling “soh” from the last session? If you are ready to move on to our last chapter of Kimchee making, there are two important items you need to have before we start.
First, go to your closet and find your husband’s (or boyfriend’s) hideous shirt that you hate. If you are a boy, put on the shirt that your grandma or mom gave you last Christmas that you don’t dare to wear in the public but can’t donate either for emotional reason. This is not a time to wear fancy Dolce and Gabbana silk blouse. Chances are you will get some splashes of chili filling on you and this will make a genius excuse to recycle them. Smart, huh!
Second, get a pair of plastic glove.
Don’t you even think about a pair you have in your house that you used to clean the bathrooms. If you do, I won’t talk to you! This cost only about $1.60(USD) and you should declare them as the Holy Kimchee glove. They will be your guardian angel of your delicate hands.
Now, are you ready? Let’s get to work.
Chapter III : The grand assembly
If Edward has scissor hands, then, I have Kimchee hands. Put them on proudly.
Now I am going to have you imagine yourself changing a baby’s diaper. Have you done it before? If not, this will be a good practice. With your left hand hold up the cabbage just like you would hold the baby’s legs and release the most outside leaf to be flat. (You will need a large somewhat shallow mixing bowl to do this) With right hand spread the filling onto the leaf just like on the photo. Make sure you reach to all the nooks and crannies like you would clean the baby’s bottom. Sorry to make you imagine that! 🙂
Repeat the layers one leaf at a time. Do not put too much “soh” on each leaf.
I don’t need Picasso on the wall. This is artistically good enough to inspire me everyday.
Fold the end leafy part of cabbage toward the stem holding them together.
Remember the rough green leaves we reserved? Just scrunch it with a little bit of “soh“. (It was not easy to do wrapping with only one hand and trying to take a picture with the other)
If my fairy godmother would grant me one wish at that moment I would ask for an extra arm, and then later I will regret rest of my life for not asking a pair of glass slipper.
Tightly wrap around the cabbage. She needs to hibernate. Wrapping will help the cabbage to keep its flavor during fermentation process.
My Kimchee sisters are nicely stacked in an airtight container.
Add about 1 cup of water to your mixing bowl you assembled Kimchee in, swirl around to rinse the “soh” and pour over the Kimchee. This will make some Kimchee juice later on to use in soups and stews. The “soh” amount I gave you in the recipe should be more than enough for 2 cabbages. Keep the leftover in the fridge for later use.
“Behold the power of Kimchee!”
My container comes with airtight seal cover in it. It is better to keep your Kimchee not to contact with too much air. You don’t have to have this fancy container, of course. You can put your Kimchee in a ziplock back and let the air out, seal it, and then put in a container. That will help to shut out the air from Kimchee.
Let your Kimchee rest in the room temperature for a day or two depends on the room temperature in your house and how much of fermentation you desire. I left mine for a day and half in a 74ºF room and it was just right for me.
Put them in the fridge. They will continue to ferment in a slower speed than room temperature. Your Kimchee can last several month in the fridge.
Yes, Kimchee making is a work but it pays off. Think of how many dishes you can create; the soups and stews, fried rice, dumplings, noodles, stir-fries, and so on…, the possibilities are endless. I will be enjoying the fruit of my labor throughout this winter.
So next time you go to Korean market and see the gorgeous cabbages? Think hard.
Make it or buy it? That is the question.
The Kimchee class is now officially over.
The recipe is written below.
Thanks for all your kinds words and encouragements.
It is my favorite season of the year.
Hustle and bustle, fun to observe people shopping in the stores…
This petite Korean woman is getting in the mood of baking cookies.
Perhaps I will share with you one of my favorite holiday cookie recipe next posting.
I have been spicy for couple of weeks, so
I better show you the sweeter side of mine.
I am a sweet Ajumma after all,
Although I hate to admit that I am an Ajumma…
Cabbage Kimchi (Baechoo Kimchee)
For the soaking
- 2 whole nappa cabbage, about 5 lb or 2.3 kg each
- 3 cups Korean coarse sea salt plus 1 cup more for sprinkling
- 30 cups water
For the rice glue
- large dried anchovy, shrimp, kelp, and Pollock fish
- 3 cups water
- 2 Tbsp sweet, glutenous rice flour
For the filling
- 1 Korean radish, about 3 lb or 1kg sliced thin and julienne to 1/8" sticks
- 2 bunch green onion, cut into 1 1/2" long both white and green
- 4 cups Korean red chili flakes
- 1/2 large onion roughly diced
- 10 cloves garlic
- 2 " piece ginger peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 Tbsp Korean anchovy sauce
- 4 Tbsp shrimp sauce, salted shrimp
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- For the soaking; Remove the most rough outer leaves (about 2-3 leaves) from each cabbage, set aside. Give a 2" slit to the stem part of cabbage, open up and rinse them. You can give another 2" slit on the center stem part of the cabbage halves.
- Sprinkle some salt onto the white stem part of each leaf of the cabbage, make sure you salt each and reach to the tip of the stem. Be careful not to break the leaf.
- In a deep large container dissolve 3 cups of salt with 30 cups of water. Place the cabbage facing up and press them down so the solution will sip through each layer. It is okay if your cabbages are not completely immersed in the solution at this point.
- Cover the cabbage halves with the reserved green leaves, put plastic cover, and place something heavy on top. Let it soak for 8 hours, turn the cabbages to the other side, place the covers and heavy item back to push down, let it soak for another 4 hours.
- After 12 hours, try to bend the stem part of each cabbage. If they are willing to bend, it is done. If not, Sprinkle a little more salt on the stem part and soak for 2 more hours.
- Remove the cabbages and the rough leaves from the solution and rinse 3 times. Cut the cabbage laves into another half. This will make 8 cabbage quarters. Drain the cabbages in the colander or basket for at least 2 hours so the water will drain out thoroughly. You can cover them with a large bowl or plastic to prevent them from drying out during this step.
- For the rice glue; Bring to boil water with dried seafood in a pot, covered. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 20 minutes to intensify the stock. Strain the stock and reserve 2 cups.
- In a small pot, whisk 1 1/2 cup of stock with rice flour, bring to boil whisking continuously until it gets bubbly and thickened. Let it cool. Reserve 1/2 cup of the stock for other use later.
- For the filling; In a blender puree onion, garlic, ginger and the reserved 1/2 cup of seafood stock until smooth.
- Pour chili flakes in a large mixing bowl, add the garlic mixture puree and the cooled rice glue, anchovy sauce, shrimp sauce, sugar, sesame seeds. Mix well.
- Add sliced radish and the green onion to the chili mixture and mix again. It will look like mostly radish and green onion at this point. Let them sit for 30 minutes so the radish will extract their moisture and get wilted. Your filling should be spreadable consistency. You can adjust with more stock in case your filling seems too thick.
- Break a little piece from cabbage, put a little bit of chili filling and taste to see if it is seasoned right. You might need more fish sauce or salt depends on the sodium level in the soaked cabbage.
- For the assembly; You will need large shallow mixing bowl to do this job.
- Hold the cabbage quarter upward with your left hand and release the outside leaf to be flat in the bowl. With you right hand take some of the chili filling and spread all over the leaf, put down another layer one at a time and repeat. Don't put too much of filling on each leaf, just enough to cover. When all the layers are spread with chili filling, fold the leafy part of the cabbage toward the stem holding them together and wrap with the reserved rough green leaves tightly. Place each cabbage quarters in the air tight container. Add 1 cup of water to the mixing bowl and swirl around to rinse the filling residue in the bowl, pour it over the cabbage in the container. Seal the container and let it sit in a room temperature for 1-2 days depends on the room temperature or the fermentation level you desire. Keep your Kimchee in the fridge after that. It can store for several month to enjoy.
- The filling amount is perhaps more than enough for 2 heads of cabbages. I always keep the leftover in the fridge and make Bean Sprout Kimchee with it.