This is the third year I’ve made a major batch of kimchi. My initial experiment took place while I was interning with molecular gastronomy great Dave Arnold and we double bagged and vacuum sealed two heads of napa cabbage kimchi, a la sous vide minus the cooking process that normally takes place in a circulator. The double bags provided us with an interior-sealed bag that should explode when fermentation is complete according to our calculations. Not having enough storage in the hallway walk-in, we volunteered Cesare Casella‘s Italian classroom as storage and entertained the idea of the kimchi bag exploding during class and delivering a red hot mess for the chef.
That was my first trial. Now in my third year — and about a dozen times making kimchi since that experiment — I think I’ve finally found an ultimate vegetarian fan-favorite recipe. And believe me, it was much appreciated the last time I paraded around and delivered it. (James Oseland, Editor in Chief of Saveur, thought it was pretty awesome). And while it takes a bit of practice, once you’ve mastered the technique, there’s no doubt you’ll be making your best batch in no time. I made so much of it last winter, I had no choice but to give away most of it. The leftovers (some are still in the fridge) reminded me this year I should not hesitate to give it all away. Why waste food when it’s this good? So, in lieu of buying gifts this holiday season, I’ve decided to give it another round and share the joy once again. Here are some fun giveaway snapshots of the kimchi takers his year along with the recipe I swore I’d never give away.
I have to add a little warning: kimchi is intended for risk takers and you must be okay with the occasional gas here and there (from the cabbage). It may be stinky at times, but it sure adds that magic touch to your favorite dishes and aids in digesting your food — hence why it’s so mysterious and magical.
Here are all my favorite people who got to taste my homemade kimchi this year:
Yield: 40 Servings
Prep Time: 6 hours
Active Time: 90 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 30 minutes plus 48 hours for fermentation
2 heads of napa cabbage, washed and sliced into halves
8 scallions, washed and sliced into 2″ pieces
4 gallons of cold water
1/2 mu (Korean Radish), peeled and julienned
1 bunch of Mustard greens, washed and trimmed
3 cups coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon of preserved Yuga fruit (aka Yuzu) or orange marmalade
1/2 cup applesauce
4 cups red pepper flakes
1 cup minced garlic
4 tablespoons of minced ginger
1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans, soaked overnight
1/2 cup cooked white sticky rice
a few tablespoons of water
In a large bowl, add half the amount of salt. Place cabbage halves in the salted water sliced side up. Salt the cabbage and lift in between individual leaves to add salt in the crevices. This step allows the cabbage to soften and removes excess water.
Set aside for about 3 hours uncovered, turn the cabbage over and leave for another 3 hours uncovered. When finished, remove from the brine and rinse cabbage under cold running water for about 5 minutes. Place in a colander and allow to air dry for about an hour.
In the meantime, cook the kidney beans unseasoned along with the rice. To make the kidney beans: boil 2 quarts of water, add half a cup of beans on medium- high heat. When the water starts to boil, reduce heat to a medium-low. Once the beans are starting to soften, reduce to a simmer and allow to completely soften (about an hour). To cook the rice: add 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of water in a pot. Place on the stovetop, allow to boil for a minute, reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes covered. Turn the heat off and allow the rice to sit for an additional 10 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of the cooked rice and 1/2 cup of cooked beans and blend in a kitchen blender until smooth and creamy. Add a few drops of water if necessary. Remove from blender and set aside in a large bowl.
Add to the mixing bowl: minced garlic, ginger, fruit preserves, fine sea salt, applesauce and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Combine the red pepper mixture with the julienned radish, mustard greens and scallions (make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves).
Place cabbage in a bowl, smooth side up and start adding the kimchi stuffing mixture (about a tablespoon at a time) in between every leaf. This is the part where it matters the most, if you don’t take the time to add the mixture and rub it in between every leaf- your kimchi won’t be as tasty when it’s ready! Repeat steps for the remaining cabbage. When you’re done, place kimchi in a large container with an airtight lid. You can allow the kimchi to sit at room temperature for about a day and then transfer it to a refrigerator. After 48 hours you’ll start to see water inside the container along with bubbles. Air out the bubbles as it’s the natural gas from the cabbage and the fermentation process should be complete now.
To serve, Slice along cabbage halves lengthwise once, and slice 1 1/2 inch pieces widthwise. Each stack of 1 1/2 piece equals one serving.