08-25-2014 Journal Entry – Kimchi For Me!   1 comment

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‘Korean Kimchi’

With the Harvest season in full swing I’ve been wanting to come up with a recipe for something new and out of the ordinary.  I’m tired of the same old things and need to step out of the proverbial box if I can.  I reached back into my past for inspiration and actually found some.

Having spent a few years in the Republic of South Korea I was introduced to hundreds of dishes I couldn’t have ever imagined.  Some were killer and some were more than a little disgusting.  After my first year there I was able to adapt my pallet to a much more exotic range of foods.

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One thing in particular that at first glance turned my stomach was Korean kimchi, a foul smelling concoction that is eaten by every Korean at every meal. It smells to high heaven and is as hot as blazes. It’s a fermented Korean cabbage dish covered in a smoking hot red pepper mixture and fermented in clay pots buried in the ground for a month or two. Sounds pretty nasty I know but I eventually I came to like it a great deal. Thankfully, once you’ve eaten some of it you can’t smell it on the breath of others which was a blessing when you intended to spend time with native Koreans. It was a learned survival technique.

I decided I’d make an attempt to create a kimchi dish that had less stench, more flavor, and still have a decent level of heat. Much of the kimchi available here in the US is a milder Americanized version with a medium heat level for the faint of heart. I also have an real aversion to eating food that’s been left to ferment in the ground. I prefer something a bit more sanitary.

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Step one was to purchase ten pounds of good old American cabbage and a quantity of good quality habanero peppers.  Instead of fermenting the cabbage I decided to pickle it to allow for longer term storage.

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I shredded the cabbage into smaller than normal pieces to make it easier to handle when filling the jars.  I grated the onions and fresh ginger, mixed it together with the shredded cabbage and minced garlic.  I’ve developed a pickling mixture of jalapeño vinegar and a handful of other spices and seeds which I think should mimic the Korean flavor pallet.  I decided to make only six pounds of the mixture in case this first attempt failed.

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As you can see the end result looks good but will it taste good?  It’s been a week since I completed the batch and I’m about to give it my taste test.  It has that familiar pungent aroma and the level of heat is exactly where I wanted it to be. I’m pleased to announce that the flavor is a little sweet with a serious bite of vinegar. The spice mixture works well with everything else and of course the habaneros are working their magic. I’m a very happy person. This will make an excellent side dish for any meal and could even be used as a relish of sorts for hot dogs, hamburgers, and the  occasional taco. 

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‘Actual Korean Kimchi’

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‘My Version’

I look forward to many meals with this dish as a main component. I do anticipate a few adjustments in future batch’s to increase the heat and to refine the flavor to be closer to the original.  Cooking is such fun.

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One response to “08-25-2014 Journal Entry – Kimchi For Me!

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  1. Interesting! Without burying it in the ground, it seems much more passable.

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