For me, a cold winter Sunday means football, but if my refrigerator is lacking jars of kimchi, Sunday is also a day of slicing, chopping and (then) fermenting.
Yes, I am still crazy for kimchi. I love making it. I love fermenting it. I love eating it. Hell, I even like the smell of it. I previously wrote about my love of making kimchi in the Summer 2012 edition of Shelter magazine, titled “Crazy for Kimchi.” I’ve continued to experiment with my kimchi creations since then but recently hit somewhat of a dead end when my supply of Korean chili paste (without preservatives) ran out. What to use now?
Thankfully, chef, food icon and founder of Momofuku, David Chang, came out with his own cooking show on PBS, titled Mind of a Chef. If you haven’t seen it and cooking is your thing, you’ve got to check this show out. Chang dedicates one episode to rotten food, with a huge focus on kimchi.
In that episode, which I followed with close interest, he offered up his love of the Korean specialty and a recipe for how he makes it. He showed that most Koreans use dried chili powder to make the chili paste for their kimchi. I’m not sure why I was so thick headed to think that I must use jarred Korean chili paste rather than dried chilies, but there you have it. I didn’t make the connection.
Although I knew I could find some chilies to powder in my coffee grinder, I wasn’t confident I would find Korean chilies in our grocery stores here in the Western San Juans. And no, so far, I haven’t been successful in finding Korean chilies. But the Safeway in Montrose does have an impressive variety of dried chilies in its produce department. I went with a variety that was grown in Japan. I know its not Korean, but hey, we are in Western Colorado. I took what I could get.
While using most parts of Chang’s recipe, including the use of pineapple to make the chili paste, I made my best batch of kimchi yet. This batch had much more depth of flavor and was very, very spicy. I threw in a head of red cabbage to give it some color. Here’s a basic look at what into my latest kimchi creation:
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 head Napa cabbage
1 head red cabbage
6 baby bok choy, leaves separated
3 carrots, julienned
1 large daikon radish, julienned
1/2 of a pineapple
2 medium onions
1 finger ginger root
half a cup dried red chili, ground (use less if spice isn’t your thing)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
After slicing all the veggies and blending the paste in a food processor, I fermented the kimchi for about a week-and-a-half. It certainly has the funk I am looking for, although I know some like it even funkier. Kimchi is crazy. As I have said before. The more I make it, the more I love it.