Wednesday, July 08, 2009

We Made Our Own Kimchee!

Tuesday night in Brooklyn, a kimchi-palooza was underway. It all began quite simply: garlic, ginger, scallions, daikon radish, and some heads of Napa cabbage that had been salted and left to sit for six hours or so.

But then brined shrimp and chili flakes joined the party, and that's when the fun really began.

This all took place at a cooking class at Brooklyn Kitchen - a kitchen goods store in Williamsburg. The class was taught by Sunny Bang, a Korean-American chef who has cooked under the likes of Tom Colicchio and Kerry Heffernan.

Sunny started out by explaining the history and health benefits of kimchi. He explained that there are many different types of kimchi and that in Korea, each family would have its own variety. This has a lot to do with what Koreans call "seon maht" or "hand taste" - a concept that holds that each person's hands impart a specific flavor to the kimchi they make.

Hands play a big part in the kimchi-making process. Once the garlic, ginger and brined shrimp are blended into a paste and the daikon is julienned they are mixed together by hand with the chili flakes and chopped scallions. This forms the "base" for the kimchee. The hard work comes in squeezing the water out of the cabbage - by hand, of course. The base is then spread on to each layer of the cabbage and after allowing a few days for lactic acid fermentation, the kimchi is ready to put up or be eaten fresh!

Our fridge is now a mini-shrine to pickled and fermented cucumber and cabbage. Yum...

Related post: Why Mr. Kimchi is so popular

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