New foodie trend: move over kale, it’s kimchi’s turn in the spotlight
When a guest brought a dish containing kimchi to my friend Penny’s very traditional Thanksgiving in scenic Boondockville, I knew it had surfaced as the latest hot thing. It’s turning up everywhere. At Crimson Sparrow in Hudson, they’re actually having kimchi tastings, using it in consommé, and folding dried kimchi into the sausage mix for Scotch eggs. Some people don’t even know what a Scotch egg is, and here they are with kimchi in them.
In case you’re just catching up yourself, kimchi is Korea’s national dish, made of fermented vegetables, typically cabbage and daikon radish, spiced up with seasonings. It’s commonly served as a side dish, but Koreans also use it as a condiment and an ingredient in cooking — and now, apparently, so do many American chefs. You can use it to flavor soups, stews or stir-fries, braise it along with short ribs, or add it to any dish you think would be perked up by a sour/spicy note.
Korean food has long taken a back seat to Chinese and Japanese cuisine, and even lags behind Vietnamese. I know of only a couple of restaurants in the Hudson Valley offering Korean dishes. Still, with kimchi gaining a toehold, the other fare shouldn’t be far behind.
You can buy kimchi in specialty stores and some supermarkets. Look for it near the refrigerated pickles and sauerkraut. It’s simple to make, too. You’ll find Korean chili powder and fish sauce in Asian markets or online, if your local market doesn’t carry them.
There are many recipes; here’s a basic one:
1 Napa cabbage, about 2 lbs
½ cup of coarse salt
10 to 12 cups cold water
8 oz daikon radish, peeled and julienned
4 scallions, chopped
¼ cup fish sauce
2 Tbs Korean chili powder
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp sugar
- Cut the cabbage into 2-inch pieces; discard the stalk. Put the cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle it with salt, tossing to coat evenly. Add enough cold water to cover. Let soak at room temperature, covered, for 12 hours.
- Drain into a colander, rinse with cold water and gently squeeze out as much water as possible.
- In a large bowl, blend the fish sauce, chili powder, garlic, ginger and sugar. Add the radish, scallions and cabbage, and toss to coat evenly.
- Pack the mixture into a large, clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. Seal and leave in a cool, dark place for a day or two. When it starts to bubble, your kimchi is fermenting. Refrigerate for 3 or 4 more days. It’s best after a week and will keep in the fridge for about a month.