Fiery homemade kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented Korean dish that is served at almost every Korean meal.

In Praise of Leftovers
Fiery homemade kimchi.

Kimchi is one of those divisive foods. You either love it, hate it, or haven’t even gotten near enough to decide. One of the best things about moving to Seattle 16 years ago was my introduction to Korean food. And even around here, it’s an under-celebrated, almost undiscovered cuisine. I’m waiting for Korean to get its big break like Vietnamese food has, or tapas or izakaya. In the meantime, I’ll definitely be making more batches of this. (Though Yancey’s hoping I’ll wait a few weeks, since our entire house now smells like a kimchi factory.)

Fair warning – this recipe takes a day or two to make (depending on if you cheat like I did), involves massaging daikon strands, and will find you putting anchovies in the food processor with apples. Now, that’s my love language, but I’d be surprised if it’s everyone’s. Were I to commence with a hard sell, I’d say that kimchi is full of good-for-you live cultures (naturally present in cabbage), livens up a lunch rice bowl like nobody’s business, kicks up the endorphins with its spice, will make you feel like a globally conscious cook, and the homemade version is vastly better than most store-bought jars. If you’re not ready to make the plunge, I’ve got a half gallon of it waiting to be eaten in my fridge. Come by and I’ll send you home with some. Just make sure to bring an airtight container. Your partner or roommate will thank you.

This recipe is from Fine Cooking. Thank goodness I found a link to it, because I didn’t feel like typing it out. It instructs you to let the paste sit for 24 hours before you combine it with the cabbage. I didn’t do that. I let it sit for a couple hours. I was tempted to just grate the ginger rather than julienne it, but I’m glad I didn’t. The long, crunchy strands are toothsome and delicious. I didn’t matchstick the garlic, however. Why would someone impatient with details go for that?! I just finely chopped it. And what else can you do with kimchi besides eat it straight from the jar? Make soup (recipe coming up, I’m lightly promising), mix it with scrambled eggs, drizzle a little sesame oil over it and serve as a side salad. Let me know what you come up with.

Fiery Homemade Kimchi by Debra Samuels from Fine Cooking


Sarah Murphy-Kangas blogs at In Praise of Leftovers.

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