Last Sunday we got a spicy treat. Deb and Richard's friend Boksoon gave a kimchi-making workshop using Tantré's great napa cabbage. Boksoon says the secret to great napa is when the base of the leaves is thin - then they are very sweet. Apparently, Tantré has some of the best and thinnest napa around. The way Boksoon makes kimchi is the way her grandmother made it in Korea.
Overview of the steps:
1. Cut up the cabbage and soak it in a brine solution for 4-5 hours. Then drain and rinse it.
2. Make the thickening with either rice flour or wheat flour. Cool.
3. Make the spicy sauce.
4. Gently mix the sauce, a little at a time and without crushing it, into the salted cabbage.
Step 1 - Salt the cabbage
4 lbs. napa cabbage, chopped into 1" long pieces
3/4 C. salt
1 gallon water
Dissolve salt in the water. Soak napa for 4-5 hours. Drain water and rinse napa in clear water. Drain again.
Step 2 - Make the starch thickener
2T. flour (rice flour or wheat flour)
1 and 1/2 C. warm water
Whisk together flour and water, bring to a boil. Stir until slightly thickened. Cool.
Step 3 - Make the spicy sauce
1 T. garlic, chopped
1 T. ginger, chopped
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. (coarse) hot pepper powder (from Korean grocery like Manna on Plymouth Rd.)
1 t. fish sauce
1 T. salted baby shrimp sauce (also available at Manna)
1 T. roasted sesame seeds
1/2 bunch sliced green onion (cut on the diagonal)
Mix together these ingredients. Then add the cooled starch mixture from Step 2. Boksoon says make sure you have enough sauce. Too much is ok, not enough is not good.
Step 4 - Bring it all together
In a very large bowl with the drained cabbage in it, add about 1/4 of the sauce mixture and gently rub it into about 1/4 of the cabbage pieces. Do this very carefully so the cabbage is not crushed. Repeat this process until all cabbage is covered evenly with sauce. Once this is done, kimchi is ready to be stored. Put in glass jars, keep away from sunlight. Boksoon says it's best to leave the kimchi un-refrigerated for 24 hours. This gets the lactic fermentation that is healthy for your gut flora going. Kimchi will keep (refrigerated) up to a year.
This kimchi was delicious! I'm going to be making my own as soon as the batch I got on Sunday is gone. I'm going to try to recreate the spicy pork, tofu and kimchi dish that we love at Seoul Garden.
In Korea kimchi is often stored partially buried in the ground. Boksoon says this imparts a wonderful flavor that is special to each place.
By the way, Boksoon says her favorite Korean restaurant is Arirang over near the Outback Steakhouse.