23 January 2011

Cucumber Kimchi

I am presenting here a how-to primer on a basic cucumber kimchi...this is my first cucumber batch, and 4th kimchi batch overall, so I am certainly no expert, but damn, my kimchi tastes good.

Actually, I recently took some of my second batch of kimchi to Kim's, our local Asian grocery market, which is owned by Koreans. After some linguistic confusion, I explained to the woman who owns the market (and makes delicious kimchi) that I wanted her to try mine, and perhaps give me some pointers. She was, to put it mildly, rather suspicious of my kimchi. However, she did put a very, very small piece of it in her mouth, chewed it slowly, and then turned to her husband (who was acting as our interpreter in the process) and said something in Korean, with a surprised look on her face. He looked at me, smiled, and said, also with some surprise, "It's good!"

So I now am nonstop making kimchi, and nonstop eating kimchi, and I'd love to share the passion. Check it out below. This is super easy. I'll let you know in a few days how it tastes.

1. Cut four cucumbers into small chunks, put them in a bowl, and mix with two tablespoons of salt. Let sit overnight.

2. Upon your return, you will notice the liquid that the salt has pulled out of the cukes. This is your brine. To this, I added one yellow onion, five garlic cloves, one teaspoon of honey, three tablespoons of Korean chile flakes, one tablespoon of vinegar, and a teaspoon of fish sauce.

You can play with what else you put in, and in a pinch, you can use regular crushed red pepper instead of the korean stuff. It is quite different though.

3. Mix up all that stuff and pack it in some mason jars. Pack it down so that you see the level of the brine (now all red and pretty looking) rise above the level of the veggies.

4. Put the tops on the mason jar, but don't tighten down the ring. Obviously you can also choose to use a different sort of vessel. As long as the brine level is higher than the veggies, all is good and you don't even need a lid at all. Just a towel atop the opening will work fine.

4. Let it ferment. Two days is good, though it will get stronger in taste the more you let it go. If you see any mold on the brine surface or on any veggies poking through, just scrape it off. Harmless.

5. Enjoy!

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