An Attempt at Kim Chi

When I think of my first canning project of the summer, my thoughts usually turn to ruby red strawberries or tart rhubarb stalks, but the common denominator is sugar, and lots of it. However, this year, I broke out the mason jars for the first time over kim chi, slightly pickled but mostly fermented Korean vegetables. *Note: I did not process the kim chi in a boiling water bath, so it is to be used up within a month or so. *Related Note: Does anyone want any kim chi?
While the most common vegetable base for kim chi is Napa or Korean cabbage, there are actually many different types of kim chi based on all sorts of vegetables. Anyone who says otherwise does not know what he or she is talking about. Since I was blessed with an abundance of bok choy this week from my CSA membership (more details soon), I decided to make a kim chi based on bok choy, with Korean radish, Korean leeks, and green onions. *Note on ingedients: I went to the local GrandMart (a very extensive ethnic supermarket with an awesome produce department) to procure the Korean radish and chili powder, and I happened to see Korean leeks, which I had not known even existed, on sale for $0.99 a bunch.
I combined two different recipes to make my kim chi, because there were aspects of both that I liked and disliked. I still managed to miss a step and I may have ruined the kim chi, despite my best efforts to save it. I guess I will find out in a few days.

Recipe:

  • 1 large head bok choy
  • 1 Korean radish (could substitute daikon)
  • 2-3 Korean leeks
  • 5-6 green onions (mine had red bulbs)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • A knob of ginger, 3 inches long and peeled
  • 1 1/2 cup Korean red pepper powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup kosher salt

1. Chop the bok choy and radish into bite size pieces. Cover with salt and let sit overnight in a glass bowl.

2. Drain the brine off the vegetables (the salt will have brought out the juices from the vegetables a la osmosis). Rinse the vegetables!

3. Slice the leeks and onions, press or finely mince the garlic, and grate the ginger, combine in a separate glass or ceramic bowl. Add the pepper powder and a little bit of the brine and stir to make a paste.

4. Mix the paste with the vegetables. I used a spoon; if you use your hands you might want to wear gloves.

5. Spoon the mixture into sterilized jars. Too off with brine, fresh water, or a mixture of the two, depending on how salty the vegetables were.

6. Let it sit for a few days at room temperature until it starts to ferment (bubbles will form), then move it to the fridge. Use within one month.

*Never eat anything if you are unsure if it is safe. “When in doubt, throw it out!”

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