Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How to make Kimchi

Since I am Korean, I often have been asked from the people around me how to make kimchi. Many of you probably know that kimchi is a Korean traditional food. Actually, most of the people interested in kimchi are from Asian countries. I talked about how your home country food can be helpful for mitigating your homesickness in the previous posting, How to deal with homesickness..  With kimchi being such a Korean staple, there is even Kimchi Expo in Korea. I think tasting kimchi will be another adventure for those who have not tasted it yet.

 In the global era, sharing each other’s traditional food is a good way of connecting people all over the world. Every culture has its own unique culinary tradition. Experiencing different culture through food is also a part of education. Therefore, in addition to studying in America, learning different culture through food can give you an opportunity to broaden your horizon.

Actually, sharing food is the easiest way to make friends in a foreign environment. Why don’t you teach your friends how to make your traditional food and in turn, learn their native food?

This is a video clip that will show how to make kimchi:

2 1/2 pounds napa cabbage
1/2 cup kosher salt, a walnut-sized know of ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch scallions,  minced
2 tablespoons crushed red chili pepper
2 jalapenos, minced fine
A concoction of half a ripe apple, half a ripe pear, half a yellow onion
2 tablespoons of anchovy sauce of fish sauce
a glass or plastic bowl
1 2-to-3 1-pint glass canning jar
plastic wrap
rubber bands

The process of making Kimchi

Step 1> Separate the leaves and chop them up into bite-size pieces. These shreds of cabbage will shrink about 25% during processing, so no need to make them too small. And no need to
clean them yet, as you’ll be giving them a good rinse in a bit.

Step 2> Measure out a quarter cup of sea salt.
Salt extracts water from kimchi by osmosis, making it crisp.

Step 3> And add it to a small bowl of warm water.

Step 4> Give it a gentle stir until the salt is dissolved.

Step 5> Now add the salt water to the cabbage and give the cabbage a light toss to distribute the salt water.

Step 6> Now a bit of waiting time. The salted cabbage needs to sit at room temperature for about four hours. The salt will help draw moisture out of the cabbage, and will also act as a natural preservative.

Step 7> If you look closely, you’ll see a small pool of salt brine at the bottom of the bowl. Now grease up your elbows and wash and strain the cabbage two or three times. You want to rinse off the salt water and return the cabbage to a large bowl.

Step 8> Measure out a quarter cup of kochookahrhoo, also known as fine red chili flakes/ powder.

Step 9> Add a quarter cup of warm water and mix with a spoon until the chili powder/flakes turn into a bit of paste.

Step 10> Transfer the red pepper paste to the cabbage.

Step 11> Plus a tablespoon of minced garlic.

Step 12> Add a tablespoon of finely chopped/ minced ginger.
The garlic and chili pepper help to preserve kimchi

Step 13> Three to four green onions, sliced.

Step 14> Two tablespoons of anchovy sauce of fish sauce. If you prefer a vegetarian version, you can skip this step.

Step 15> And now for the secret ingredient that sets this kimchi apart from most commercially prepared varieties: a concoction of half a ripe apple, half a  ripe pear, and half a yellow onion, all blended up with one cup of water. This apple/pear/onion blend adds a hint of natural sweetness to the kimchi –most commercial varieties simply add a cup of sugar.

Step 16> Now put on a pair of gloves so that you can get right in there and give everything a solid toss and rubdown. Gloves are necessary, as the red chili flakes/powder will make your bare hands burn.

Step 17> You want to bottle the kimchi up in glass bottles, cap them, and leave them out at room temperature for 24 hours before refrigerating.

 Don’t fill the jars right up to their tops, as the contents will expand a bit as the kimchi ferments, and filling the jars to their rims will likely result in leakage.

Step 18> After 24 hours of fermentation out in room temperature, transfer capped bottles to the refrigerator and take portions out as needed. The kimchi will continue to ferment while refrigerated, and will keep for at least a month. The longer it ferments, the more sour it will get.

Kimchi will keep refrigerated for up to a week. Do not attempt to heat-process kimchi.

If you prefer kimchi that isn’t sour at all, you should use these bottles up within a week or so. 

 (cited in  How to Make Kim Chi)

There is an old saying that sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly (M.F.K, Fisher) It is a privilege for you to have a wonderful experience of staying in American society, where many different cultures from around the world live together. To become a leader in this rapidly changing global era, you need more than computer skills, English language proficiency and the knowledge of your major. Thus, making friends from different cultures by sharing cross-cultural food is highly recommended while your staying in America. It is because the ability of understanding various cultures will be useful regardless of your career field in the future.

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